Monday, November 22, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

After months of waiting and guessing, the first part of the last movie of the Harry Potter saga is finally here. As soon as I found out the timings of the movie and got together some friends, I managed to get permission from my parents, and went off to the cinema.

My heart was fluttering slightly when by the time the movie started, and with good reason too. The starting scene showed Snape walking into Voldemort’s meeting place; the Malfoy Manor has a ghoulish yet majestic look about it. There, Snape lets out the real plan of Harry’s final departure from his Uncle’s place in Privet Drive. Voldemort takes Lucius Malfoy’s wand, which he thinks would help him kill Harry. The meeting ends with Voldemort killing Charity Burbage, Hogwart’s former professor of Muggle Studies. The snake, Nagini, makes a delicious (eww!) dinner out of her.

In the meantime, Harry has convinced his Uncle and Aunt to leave Privet Drive for good. While he is wandering about the empty house, Hermione, Ron, Fred, George, Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody and other members of the Order of the Phoenix turn up all of a sudden. After a brief squabble with Harry, Hermione rips off some of his hair and puts it in the Polyjuice potion. In minutes, seven Harrys appear in the place of the others. The ploy is an attempt to baffle Voldemort or his Death-Eaters in case anyone is out there. False trails had been leaked in the Ministry of Magic about the date and time of Harry’s departure. But someone has betrayed them, and they are surrounded by Death-Eaters. At this point, a number of changes have been made from the book. But the major points remain the same, and Harry (the real one) and Hagrid land in Ron’s house. One by one the rest of them appear, George with a ear cut off, and Hedwig and Mad-Eye dead.

It is during Bill and Fleur’s wedding that the actual movie starts. With the Minister having been killed and the Ministry taken, the Death-Eaters attack. Ron, Harry and Hermione disapparate in a hurry, and thus begins their final adventure.

By and large, the movie has stuck to the book. However, there are some theatrical adaptations. The feel of romance is much more prominent in the movie than in the book. It even has some elements of action thrillers. By the time Harry and Hermione had returned from Godric’s Hollow after their close encounter with Nagini, I was hyperventilating.

A very nice part of the visual effects was when Hermione was reading out the story of the Three Brothers form The Tales of Beedle the Bard. The entire episode was shown in silhouettes, and a background of twilight added to the mystic nature of the show. 

I have always felt that the choice of actors for the Harry potter movies was excellent. After watching this movie, I am more than ever convinced that no one other than these very actors could have done better. Harry is just Harry, slightly headstrong, sometimes pushy, and usually faithful to friends, but with no well-defined talent or character as such. Ron is eternally awkward and very often ridiculous, but is probably the best kind of friend one can wish for. And Hermione! She just seems to grow prettier every day! She most characteristically carries books with her on the most life-threatening journey possible. Emma Watson has positively outshone herself in all the subtle expressions and feelings that keep flashing across her face throughout the movie. Other than these three, others have brought out their characters well, though most of this film circles around the trio. A new addition to the Harry potter crew is Rhys Ifans, who plays the role of Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s father. Had I not seen him act, I wouldn’t have believed that anyone could possibly act that eccentrically! Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort is quite fearsome. A lot of the credit would go to the make-up artists. They have positively done a good job.

The problem with movies made from books is that a lot of the details have to be omitted. Little things which, apparently of no great consequence, have made Harry Potter what it is. For those who have read the books, and read them well, the movies are bound to be disappointing. Those who have laughed at every Weasley joke, sympathized with Ron when Hermione got mad with him and cried with them all at their slightest pain find the movies sadly lacking in such details. The last movie, though made in two parts, suffers from the same problem.

Most parts of the movie plays in a dull gray morning background. The average spirit of the people has been very well brought out in the misty surroundings. The haunting music that sometimes rings in the background goes well with the general air of hopelessness and desolation that is closing in. Certain parts of the movie have been very well-directed, as in the portrayal of the hostile feelings growing in between Ron and the other two, and the last torture that Ron faced before he was able to destroy the locket horcrux. Even the part which shows Bellatrix Lestrange torturing Hermione was quite horrifyingly real.  I could almost feel her pain myself.

The most touching part of the movie is undoubtedly the death of Dobby. Dobby’s last sigh was ringing in my ears long after I left the movie hall. I think that J.K. Rowling has been unnecessarily cruel with Dobby. He should not have died. Not Dobby.

The first part ends with Voldemort stealing the Elder wand from Dumbledore’s grave, and casting a powerful spell into the sky. Harry Potter movies have never been great by themselves. It is really the storyline that carries the entire thing off so decently. It is no different for this movie. But certainly, this one is an improvement when compared to The Half-Blood Prince. This movie is not one of the best movies that I have watched, but I would not have liked to give this one a miss either. The two hours spent at the cinema were not spent in vain. I will be waiting for the last part of this last movie eagerly. Let’s see how things turn out. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fun with waste

This year, the Children’s Day celebration in our school was a bit different. There was the usual quota of dances and plays and picnic. But the real fun began after all this was over. A rather unusual competition was held. Each house from each class was asked to make something out of waste materials. When we initially heard of this, we were rather irritated. How could we possibly make anything presentable out of discarded materials? I am the leader of the Violet House of our class, but I washed my hands of the matter entirely. Then one of the other girls took charge. She chalked out a very innovative idea. We were going to make Humpty-Dumpties spending a day out on the beach. This caught my attention, and slowly my interest in the competition revived.

I shall not go into all the planning and fighting and bossing that went on in the days before the competition. On the day of the competition, this Saturday, we went to school with all the materials. To tell the truth, I had forgotten all about it the previous day, and remembered about the green wrapping paper that I was supposed to bring only at the gate of the school. Fortunately, I had money with me, and some of the roadside shops had already opened. I managed to get some sellotape and had to make do with some green marble paper. My friend Srimoyee is a wonderful craftsman. She had made a beautiful background of the setting sun on the sea on a used sheet of thermocol.  She had also made some beach shades by winding thread around a used pen’s refill. There was even a volley ball net made with intricate designs out of that same thread. This one was made by her aunt though. But what was most remarkable was that she had ever so carefully drilled holes into seven eggs, taken the yolk out, washed the shells clean and painted them into Humpty Dumpties! We were so amused and also amazed when we first saw them! The poor girl had had to work late into the night to do all that work.

All the different houses chose their own space to work in. The Violet house girls of our class were the fastest, and bagged the best space available; a raised platform right outside our school library. One of the girls had brought a huge cardboard box which once contained their new T.V. That became the base of our beach. One of my friends and I acquired some sand from the garden next to the convent, and that formed our beach. Soon, all of us were very deeply engrossed in our work. We had been given one hour, but we could easily bet on an extra half hour. I along with one of the girls started making some trees for our beach. At first we were a bit confused about how we could make them, but then I had a sudden brainwave. We used old refills (Shivangi had brought a large number of those) as the trunk. The green marble paper was used to cut out circles whose edges were fringed. Then, two such circles were placed opposite to each other that it looked like two ice-cream cones stuck on the pointed sides. This was then attached to the refill and voila! Our tree was ready! We made eight such trees. In the meantime, few of the others were making beach chairs and lemonade stalls with old match boxes and used matchsticks and ice-cream sticks. A piece of torn jute sack was used as a mat, and two Dumpties were placed on them. Two more Dumpties played volleyball and two more rested on the chairs. The last one sold lemonade. We even put a piece of used lemon that one of the girls had brought on the stall! After we were done, the beach looked beautiful, and I am not saying that because we made it. Even our opponents agreed that ours was the best in class.

Violet House

The other houses had nice ideas as well. Red House depicted a village scene. Green House did a project on the theme ‘Go Green’. Gold House decorated a used pot with chocolate wrappers and coconut shells. They put a dead beetle on the pot (though Heaven alone knows why a dead beetle should be considered waste material!) and put the caption ‘Dariye achho tumi amar harir opore’! We had a good laugh trying to imagine Robi Thakur’s reactions had he seen the latest version of his poem! Some of the other classes had made pretty things too. Among numerous projects, there was one which showed the lost city of Atlantis. One was a submarine whose fans were attached to an electrical circuit and actually moved. There was the Dhamekh Stupa of Sanchi. Somebody even did a presentation of the Harappan civilization! It was amazing how many innovative ideas could come out when minds are forced to work.

Gold House

Green House
Red House

All in all, it was positively one of the best days that I have spent in all these years. The fun and laughter was there,  and add to that the anticipation of winning a competition where so much of hard work and dedication and team spirit has been put in, and your day is made.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


This Sunday, I appeared for my karate examination. It was the second time for me. Last time, I was in class five, and used to train at another centre. There, I had some minor issues with the sensei, and dropped out right after I got my orange belt. Then, in the beginning of this year, we found that there was another class in Santose Club, just two-minutes away from my house. I was only too eager to join, and started attending from April. Though I had passed the examination and received an orange belt already, I had been out of practice for over two years, and sensei told me to start once more from the white belt.

I must acknowledge that I did not practice much at home. Whatever exercises I did were in class. My father told me many times to buck up and practice at least the warm up exercises regularly, so that I could keep lithe and supple. But I was just too lazy and unwilling to move. So naturally, I was feeling far from confident when the examination came along. I kept feeling that I would not be able to pass the examination, and would once again have to spend a year with the white belt.

The examination was scheduled from ten in the morning in a club in B-zone. It is quite far away from home, and we were going to give a lift to another girl, so we started off by nine fifteen.  This girl who came along with us had joined the class along with me in April, and unlike me, it was truly the first time for her. But she had worked hard at home, and was quite confident and relaxed while heading for the examination.

We reached the spot in good time. But like most other places in India, starting on time was quite unthinkable, and by the time the judges arrived it was nearing eleven. There were so many students, with an age difference so great that tiny six-year olds and people of my father’s age were classmates! And I saw how hopelessly some people were performing. Some of them were actually of higher belts then I am. This gave me some confidence. If these people had passed the examination, so would I. Anyway, to cut a long story short, after four and a half hours of sometimes easy and sometimes not so easy fighting and exercises, I was heading home again, none the worse for the experience.

This time the examination was much better than last time. Last time, we had had to perform without any break for four hours. I had been half dead by the time I returned home. This time we had been given enough rest and relaxation breaks. I managed to return without too many injuries, and a few funny stories to tell.

It is unbelievable how marks-obsessed people have become these days. I learn karate for self defence and for keeping fit, and I thought all others did the same. But yesterday, I saw a woman bring her little boy of class three or four, who was sick with fever for the examination. Her excuse: the marks he will get are very important. Much more important than her son’s comforts, it seemed. My mother was sitting with the group of guardians, mostly mothers, in the shade. She felt disgusted with their conversations. They were all praising all the other children but their own. They did not really care about how much their children were learning. All that mattered to them was the marks that their children managed to acquire.

When we came back home we told baba about this. He jokingly said, “When one of these children is confronted by gundas, he will say, “Do you know that I have scored 93% in karate! You should be very afraid of me!”” Not a highly unlikely thing to happen, is it?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Environmental Education

Every time during the examinations, we students grumble incessantly about E.V.E. Everybody has the same complaint, “This is such a BORING subject! What good does this do to anyone?” Even teachers do not like E.V.E. much. They teach it because they don’t have much of a choice in the matter. For sometime now, I have been wondering about this myself. I have been trying to jot down a few points in my mind that would justify the existence of this subject. But then, I cannot think of any reason other than that it is supposed to make us aware about our environment. 

I suppose this reason would have been good enough if a lot of positive results could be seen since the introduction of this subject in schools. However, I do not see how this subject has been helpful in forming a better environment. There haven’t been many noticeable changes around me whose credit would go to E.V.E. I can vouch for my town in this matter. There are still many unattended garbage dumps, and the students still don’t hesitate before throwing their chocolate wrappers on the road. In almost every E.V.E. class, we learn about the harmful consequences of plastics, but hardly anyone refuses a plastic packet when shopping. Students still forget to switch off fans and lights while leaving a room, and a running tap is a very regular sight everywhere. Even people who score above eighty percent in E.V.E. do not stick to the rules and safety measures that they had learnt up during the examinations. When it comes to practice, those rules can be shot to hell.

Even the teaching of this subject is done in a bland stale manner. In every class, the chapters are read aloud, sometimes by a single girl, and sometimes by the entire class in unison. E.V.E. is one of the most popular classes when it comes to dozing or completing homework of other subjects. Every year, we have the same lessons. Apart from a few new terms, what we learn is the same. There is such a lack of new lessons. We do not do much of practical work in this subject. The best that we do is make clay models of ecosystems, or write about the types of pollutions and the ways of reducing them. In our school, we have a ‘Spice Club’. Only girls of classes nine and ten are allowed to be its member. It is supposed to be an environment awareness club, but we never seem to see what they do. Nothing noticeable happens, or at least we never come to know of anything done by them.

If the board removed this subject all of a sudden, there would be quite a lot of celebration among the students and the teachers alike. I suppose there was a very noble idea behind the introduction of this subject, but the idea doesn’t seem to be working out. It has just become a useless load for the students and teachers. In any case, I believe that the most important environmental awareness lessons are learnt at home. If the parents do not bother about keeping the environment clean, and if they are not keen on making sure that their children do the same, no amount of E.V.E. at school could make significant changes in the child’s character. How can anyone expect a child whose parents regularly waste water, paper and electricity to be an environment-friendly person?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On Teachers’ Day

Today is the fifth of September, an important day for teachers of India. Teachers’ Day, celebrated on the birthday of Doctor Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan is a day when students are supposed to show their respect and love to their teachers. Most schools celebrate this occasion with a nice blend of cultural programs and speeches by the teachers. Our school is no exception. Teachers’ Day is one day we look forward to with excitement. About three weeks before the occasion, the girls from class ten get allotted to different classes and take the responsibility to stage some kind of a program with the girls of that class. Those three weeks are invariably great fun for us. We skip classes and run for practice, and hide when the principal comes to look for us, and then go stealthily back to class and make up all kinds of cock and bull excuses, and have a whale of a time! The day of the program is usually a mixed bag of anxiety, excitement, happiness and sadness about the fact that the day will pass very soon. Undoubtedly Teachers’ Day is the best celebration we have in school, and only Children’s Day comes anywhere near it.

However, something else has been going on in my head. In spite of all the dancing and frolicking around that we do on Teacher’s Day, how many of us feel any real respect and gratitude for the teachers? Like any other occasion, isn’t Teachers’ Day a mere excuse to avoid work? While staging the programs, how many of us really think about whether the teachers will like it? The truth is, teachers are usually bottom of the priority list when a program is planned. And this is not something happening just in our school. I have friends, both boys and girls, from various schools around the town. When I mentioned Teachers’ Day to them, all of them started talking about the dance or play they were going to stage, because they themselves had liked it best, and the picnic they were going to have, and the various ways they had planned to entertain themselves. Not one of them told me that they were putting up something that they hoped the teachers will enjoy. I must admit, even when I was planning my class program with the girls of class ten, we decided to do something that the students were going to enjoy the most. We did not spare much thought about what the teachers were likely to feel about it.

The same thing goes on when it comes to giving presents to teachers. Most of the students who give anything to their school teachers or other tutors do it just because it is the tradition to do so, and not because they really like that teacher. Students are more bothered about what their friends will say if they give, or don’t give a present to a certain teacher. I have seen girls in my school competing each other about how many teachers they had given gifts to. It is all about winning and losing such competitions, and not about real affection or gratitude.

All said and done, however, can we put the entire blame of such behaviour on the students? Aren’t teachers partly to be blamed too? After all, teachers play a major role in forming one's character, and maybe the children are just learning from how teachers and other elders behave?   

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Of Adorsho Hindu Hotel and Other Books

A month or so ago, I read Adorsho Hindu Hotel by Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay. The book tells the story of a poor Brahmin cook who works in a town hotel, but hopes to be able to open a hotel of his own, someday. Hajari Thakur has a lot of dreams and aspirations, and though middle-aged, has the ability and wish to work hard. However, he is desperately poor, and all he can do is work like a slave all day to be able to look after his wife and daughter back at home. In spite of all the hardships, his strong belief that someday his own hotel will come into existence and that he will be its sole owner and run it his own way helps him endure all humiliation from his master and go on with life. The story goes on to tell us about the strange turn of fate in his life that brings him friends and money, and helps him establish his dream hotel. The book gives us a very vivid picture of the entire scenario of the man’s life, and reading it is a very rewarding experience.  

Most people around me seem to suffer from a very acute fear of books. In fact, I can think of several people of varied age groups who would gladly endure physical torture rather than read a good book. The only thing these people ever read, if any at all, is a very cheap kind of chick lit. No wonder Chetan Bhagat books have become best sellers. When I mention some great book like To Kill a Mockingbird and A Christmas Carol, they give me blank stares. Obviously they have never heard of them. Our school library is an embarrassment. Not that there aren’t any good books; I have seen labels like Great Expectations and The Street Lawyer in the showcases. Even a dusty copy of The Kite Runner is lying in a faraway corner. But when it comes to lending books, the students are given a few Hardy Boys and Nancy Drews to select from. When, accidentally, they do give out a good book, they discourage us from taking it. I had found Anne Frank's Diary on the table, and tried to take it. The librarian snatched it away from my hands, saying that it was not a book for children, and handed me a Famous Five. I was in class seven then. Of course, I later discovered three copies of the book at home, so I had nothing to lose!

When it comes to any of the Indian languages, things are much worse. Bengalis don’t read Bengali, Marwaris don’t read Hindi, and Punjabis don’t read Punjabi. To most Indians, their mother tongue is a matter of embarrassment, rather than pride. I have heard one Bengali boy sneering at another because the other had read one Bengali book! We have a lesson in English Literature this year, called “The Last Lesson” by Alphonse Daudet. The writer tells us about their last French lesson after the Prussians had conquered Alsace and Lorraine. The writer’s old master talks of their language with infinite love and pride, and says that every Frenchman should hold on to it, as it can be a key to the prison of slavery. When baba was teaching us this lesson in class, he said that every community should feel the same way about their mother tongue. He joked sadly that the problem with us Bengalis is that “Amra Bangla ta bhule gechhi, aar English ta shikhini” (We have forgotten Bengali, and haven’t learnt English)!

Though I am a voracious reader, I feel ashamed to admit that I have not read many Bengali books yet. My mother tongue is Bengali, which makes it even more shameful. I cannot deny that my father has tried and still keeps trying to make me read more in my mother tongue. I know it is high time I listened to him. I read Adorsho Hindu Hotel, Chander Pahar, Ghonada, Feluda, Byomkesh Bokshi and a few other such books, and got a taste of the invaluable treasure that is waiting for me. Srikanto, Aronyok, Pather Panchali, Kamalakanter Doptor, Muchiram Gur and everything besides, here I come!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Warm Thank You

Today, my blog has become one month old. I already have twenty one followers, and the number of visitors has almost reached six hundred and fifty. I am extremely grateful to all those who have taken interest in my blog and have been with me till now. I hope to continue with my blog for a long, long time to come. Maybe someday it will become a much more widely read, widely visited blog. My daddy says that it has been a good effort. Also, I am open to any suggestions about how I can make this blog more interesting and attractive. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Equal? Are you sure?

Men and women are equal. This is what we hear everywhere nowadays. However, a strange suspicion keeps bothering me. Is it really true? Are we really equal?

There are stark proofs against this notion in most of the places I go to. My school is an all-girls Catholic school run by nuns. The teachers and the sisters in school are always emphasizing on how there is no difference in a boy and a girl, and how girls can do everything that boys can. But whenever anything serious has to be done, like signing a report card or writing an absent note, it is mandatory that the father does it.

If men and women were really equals, then why are there special seats kept aside for women in trains and buses? I am hardly someone very well versed in politics, but even with what little ideas I have, it has often been a wonder to me that special seats have to be reserved for women in the parliament. If there was equality between men and women, then I’m sure women would not need special bills to take their seats in the political Houses. 

Coming back to much more regular household matters, we see so few women drivers. Women usually need their fathers, boyfriends or husbands to take them to wherever they need to go, but we hardly ever see a man waiting for his girl to take him anywhere. Whenever I go to the market in this town, I find that the overwhelming majority there are men, doing the shopping. Of course, it might be that some of them are loving husbands helping their wives in running the household, but surely not all of them?

Even the movies we watch propagate this sense of inequality. Most Hindi movies have a very common storyline. Somewhere in the middle, the heroine gets into trouble, and her lover comes running to rescue her. He is the one who does the brainwork or the fighting, whichever is required, while she just gazes wide-eyed or emits tiny squeaks like a cornered rat. Now I am not a cinema buff, but most of the Bollywood movies I have watched follow this pattern. In fact I can think of only one or two movies in which the heroine behaves like anything better than a money plant growing on her lover’s shoulders. Ironically, these movies are old ones, those of Hema Malini and Rekha. Equality was not preached so loudly in those days as it is now, but things seemed to have been better then.

On a related note, girls seem to have made out a very twisted version of equality for themselves. Many girls I know love using swear words. When I tell them not to, their invariable reply is that, “When boys can do it, why can’t we?” According to these girls, it is their right to copy all the bad habits of the boys. The good things about boys can be left aside. They are too difficult to be copied, and would mean leaving behind much of the feminine crookedness and meanness.

In my opinion equality, while it is certainly a birthright of every citizen, should be used with much care, and never bent and remade to suit one’s own selfish wants. A nation where every citizen is considered basically equal regardless of their caste, creed or economic status outstrips all other nations in terms of progress.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Why Bootle?

Some of my readers might be wondering why I have named the blog as I have. The name has been taken from a book called “My Family and Other Animals” by Gerald Durrell. In that book, Gerry had been given a boat for his birthday. Gerry had wanted to name it “The Bootle”, but his older brother Larry had wanted to call it "Bum Trinket". In the end, “The Bootle Bum Trinket” had been decided upon.

In my family, we have shared personal jokes revolving around ‘bootle’ and ‘bum trinket’ ever since I was a baby. We have modified the words and given them a personal touch, and have used them as code words for each other. As a child I had considered the names to be my father’s invention, and had been very proud of them. I had been so sure of them being baba’s composition, that when I read the name in the book two years ago, I remained grief-stricken for quite a few days!

When I was just about to create this blog, I had quite a bit of trouble coming up with a nice name for it. Everything I thought of turned out to be solemn and quite common, whereas I wanted this blog to be cheerful and out of the way. It was then that baba suggested calling the blog “The Bootle Bum Trinket”. Now that was bound to be an uncommon selection. I was all for it from the moment baba put the idea into my head. So unless I find a better, more uncommon name, “The Bootle” it will remain.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I was thinking about the different kinds of people I have met, and the various weird habits and acts I have seen. I see many of these at the time of admissions in baba’s classes. Different candidates and their guardians have different kinds of eccentricities. Often when I was helping out my parents during the admission procedure, some parents have gushed to them, "How smart and mature your daughter is! My son/daughter can't do a thing on his/her own!" It never occurs to these parents that their children can't do things because they have neither allowed nor taught their children to do anything other than "study" for examinations! 

I also keep observing people in  school. My friends, their parents, the teachers, all kinds of people. Some of their habits and antics are really unbelievable. A few classmates of mine asked their parents to allow them to go to and return from school by public bus. Incredibly, all the guardians unanimously said, “No, you are not yet old enough to travel alone.” Most of the girls didn’t even ask their parents why they thought that their daughters were incapable of taking care of themselves even for such a short distance. I suppose those girls themselves were actually relieved to get the “no”. They themselves were sure that they were only “children” of class eight. Only one of the girls asked her parents the reason for not allowing her. She said, “Why, Urbi is my classmate, and of my age, and she travels alone!” The parents got angry with the girl for talking back. They said, “Urbider kotha alada” (it’s different with Urbi’s family). I don’t know how it is different with me. I am of the same age, in the same class, and actually her friend! I appreciated this girl for her guts.

Another classmate of mine used to come to school in her car escorted by her parents and grandparents every day. The parents were afraid that their daughter might “become bad” if they did not accompany her. This girl has now escaped to a boarding school in Mussoorie, a thousand miles away from her parents. I wish her luck for her glorious days of freedom.

A certain woman I know of always boasts in public about the fact that her daughter, though a working woman by now, never disobeys her mother, and leads her life exactly as her mother orders. This daughter will be getting married in a short time, and will have her own kids. I can guess what kind of a mother she will be, and thank my lucky stars that I’ll never have to be one of her kids.

When I started going to school by public bus in the beginning of this year, it was just me and another girl two years older than me. Now, it is almost twelve girls who travel together. That in itself is good because of the safety it provides. I would have thought that my parents would have been relieved to know that I was travelling with so many senior girls to look after me. But it has turned out to be quite the opposite. In fact, the mother of one girl two years older than me has told my mother that she is not worried about her daughter because her daughter is with me. A girl two years older than me has been left in my care!

A student of baba’s came armed with his bag and accessories all the way to our house the other day only to say that he was feeling ill and wanted to go back home!

These are the same people who stare at me like I was some alien when they see me doing the shopping alone in the market, or reading a book even when examinations are not near at hand. In fact, one woman actually asked me what I was doing with a book after the examinations were over! These people are quite convinced that I am the one who is slightly unhinged. Really!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


There is going to be a basketball match in our school this year, in December most probably. It is going to be an inter-house game. Girls from classes eight through ten will take part. There might be girls from classes six and seven too, but chances are slim. Selections from class eight A was held the day before yesterday. Our P.T. teacher saw some of the girls play, and selected some of the girls. I was selected. It was a dream coming true!

The first basketball matches in our school had been held two years ago, when I was in class six. At that time, I was just beginning to learn the game, so I was not selected for the team. I practiced the entire year so that I could take part next year. There was no match in class seven. I practiced another whole year. In the meantime, I kept growing taller, one big advantage for a basketball player. So this year, when I heard that there is going to be a match, I was one of the first people to enlist as an interested candidate. The entire month of April, and some of the days of May before the summer vacation, we practiced every single day. There were, I was quite surprised to find, many girls from my class. I was surprised because many of the girls were those who had never before shown any interest in sports. I guessed that they were the kind who had just come with the herd. I was right. The number went down drastically in about a week. That was better. Those girls didn’t want to do anything that needs hard work, and were just proving themselves to be nuisances. After school reopened in May, we started again with double vigour. We were now carrying sports shoes and shorts with us, and those of us who have basketballs were taking them as well. Our teacher kept giving us useful tips every now and then. The few girls who have learnt the game earlier in some club (and I’m pleased to say most of them are in Violet House, my House!) helped us with the rules. So by the time selections day came, we ourselves had a rough idea about who would be selected and who won’t. Nothing came as too big a surprise. Now that we are quite certain about our team members, we are concentrating on team strategies. Regular practice will go on as usual. 

There is going to be some competition, and some spitefulness in the air. I am rather ashamed to say that games in our school are not played fairly. The last time we had basketball and kho-kho matches, one particular house had got itself known as the house of cheats. Of course, many of the girls who had played at that time have passed their ICSEs already. We have new players now. I am hoping this year’s match is going to be more enjoyable. My best friend is going to play against me (she is in Gold House), but we have promised to each other that we are not going to let any enmity on the field ruin our friendship. Of course, I will be very glad if we win, but then, winning is not the only reason I am going to play for. I will play because I enjoy playing. I am looking forward to a very nice first experience. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Making a Beginning

Writing is something that I have enjoyed from childhood. The first of my little stories involved a certain “Ram Babu” and his travelling anecdotes. My parents tell me those were quite entertaining. Unfortunately, I have lost all the loose sheets in which they were written, though many of my later short stories are stored safely. However, it is not just formal ‘stories’ that I enjoy writing. Anything that catches my eye in day-to-day life, any particular incident that has left a deep mark on me, even the review of a good book I read, all get penned down in my diary.

My father started his first blog in 2006, and a second one last year. I am a very regular reader of both, and some other blogs listed there. The idea of starting my own blog has been revolving in my head for quite some time now. The blogs that I read act as inspirations. I was not very sure about whether my starting a blog would really be appropriate, as I’m hardly fourteen yet, until very recently. My father himself suggested that I do it. After getting his unasked permission, there is no stopping me. Here, I shall open my heart and write about anything that comes to my head. The good thing is that there is no specific word limit or time limit that will constantly be nagging me and poking me at the back of my head, and telling me, “It’s time to stop!” I am looking forward to many happy hours of writing. I also look forward to comments from more competent and worldly people correcting and guiding me with their ideas and thoughts on life.