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!


Shilpi said...

Your title says it all, and you've hit the nail nice and hard and not without humour.

Most children don't grow up because they are seen as being infants for far too long. And childhood itself has been interminably extended. In some ways I guess I was lucky enough to be doing many things on my own and by myself, in and out of the house during my school years and later (and not lucky at all in some matters) but never thought about it much. I had thought most people did the same until I went to college and saw that most people did not. And in some ways of course I didn't and haven't grown up at all although I've grown old (sadly enough).

The anecdotes are hilarious. "Urbider kotha alada." (And why? Does your family come from a planet from another galaxy...?) The girl in the car accompanied by the parents and grandparents...and this strange boy who started feeling ill. Dear-oh-dear. But that woman who asked you why you were reading a book after your exams - wow, now that is priceless. I wonder whether you told her anything or whether you simply rolled your eyes.

People are weird. That's probably the only thing that holds constant through time and space...and it's better, so some days I think, to be considered unhinged by these so-called "hinged-types". Also better to be unhinged than to be hinged like them, I say.

I'm already waiting for your next story/essay.

Alka said...

:-) :-) nice write up! My daughter is just four and likes to play with sand, stones, mud,water puddles and loves climbing trees. You have to see the stares I get from mothers and stylish teenage girls and admiration from guys. :-)

Urbi Chatterjee said...

Thank you Alka-di (I am sure you don't want me to call you aunty!) I still do all those things, and climbing trees is quite a hobby with me :) I bear with the stares. My best wishes for your daughter.

Amit parag said...

The group of wierdoes is made up of a motley collection of people, but (as you have rightly noticed) parents are in majority. Most of them are of the opinion that they are one of the successes of Almighty and children should no longer act as independent human beings but as pets. If only parents thought before acting half the adolescents in the world would have stopped lying.

Anirvan Choudhury said...

Dear Pupu,

A very apt post for our times indeed. I wish every parent goes through it(specially mothers - no offence meant - mothers out of their intense affection tends to be over protective). A vast mental difference exist between our previous generation and our generation. Earlier we were expected to grow up and take responsibilities. On the contrary we have conveniently chose to ignore that wisdom and try to protect our wards like 'australian grapes'. Problems starts once they have to go someplace else for higher studies or for jobs. But the pseudo silver lining is that they slowly cope up with time only to return back to old ways once they become parent.

The reason behind - now we live in small nuclear establishment compared to joint family setup of earlier times. But again exception exists and rest of us learn to compromise.


Arijit said...

Dear Pupu,
I feel ashamed to say but my parents also never allowed me to travel alone.They followed me until class eight.Then one day, I took courage and said I won't get lost. Their only fear was If I indulge with brats and be bad.Another fear is that what will happen if my son falls in love.People will say chi chi..After all falling in love is a crime isn't it?
Except the above there are many things that do worry parents;I can't share all the reasons with you.Though boys somehow get rid of these things girls are the sufferer,I know many friend's who are still parasites and spoon fed.Lucky for you that your parents believe in you.
Take care and keep writing.All the best.

Mayuri said...

Interesting post, Pupu and very well written. Glad to see that you have a discerning eye.

The anecdotes are both funny and sad and I'd love to read some more from you. Perhaps ones that are both funny and inspiring, next time?

Take care,

Amritaksha Duttagupta said...

Dear Urbi,
I and my classmate Gaurav Pande, had once volunteered ourselves to help Sir during admission to his classes. We still remember, how reluctant parents were, to read twelve points written on a notice board before entering the room, and how we laughed seeing their attitude towards a serious message! I still remember the conversation we three had; over those people, who just went over those lines in three seconds (or even less) and passing weird comments like, 'Oh Accha'! (Nobody was even bothered to switch off their cellphones).

I have also seen in my school days, certain incidences, that exactly match with incidences you have mentioned; (coming to school with grandparents and parents)... and after four years of leaving school, when I meet those 'victims', I find that they are still 'babies'! (Can you imagine, a college going boy is escorted by parents for tuitions?)

And you yourself know who is 'unhinged', as you have described in the last paragraph, don't you? Your father has taught me a lot about life, beyond ICSE textbooks, of them, I am quoting one:
'There are people, who know not they know not, IGNORE THEM!'...

Wish you all the best in your new endeavour. Good wishes would always prevail!

Take Care,

Vaishnavi said...

Dear Pupu,

I completely understand what you say when you call this particular thing weird. There have been loads of times when I have felt at odds with my parents over similar issues. It has been an interesting process for me, I have been a rebel at times and super understanding at other times. I guess we all have these two particular qualities in some quantity. I am glad your parents trust you and believe in you. I do believe this without a doubt will make a person stronger, more responsible and assertive. I am ashamed to say that I still need to screw up a little courage in crossing the roads (but maybe that is because for some reason, I regularly trip over my own feet and my worst nightmare is that it will happen in the middle of the road :-) ). I am glad that you have the freedom to be your own person and grow responsible by practice in a country where it is not that easy for girls :)


Subhro Sengupta said...

Everyone here seems to know you on a personal level,but still I'd like to say i know what it feels like.There is a vast world besides conventional studies,exams,schools,unit tests,marks,grades,jee and what not.Without trying to be preachy all I'd like to say is,keep it up.Your habit of indulging in Gerald Durrell and books before exams is great,so keep it up follow your mind.You are already a success writing at 13 and will be a bigger one in the future

Rashmi Datta said...

Hello Urbi,
It is a pleasure reading your blog.You inspire people much older than you.Do keep writing.
As for all the weird people you have met,it is a relief they are still believed to be weird.I am almost sick of listening to 'aaj kal to sab log waise hain'(It is the same with everyone these days).
I completely agree with you about foolish parents turning their kids into mechanical robots who only act according to pre-installed programmes.And it is sad that you are called 'lucky' that your parents believe in you.(Is it not something that every parent should do?)
I know a girl who had completed her post graduation two years ago.She once told me (about a year ago) that she would make sure her kids would be able to do mathematical calculations at lightning speed (Ironically,she was explaining that 3 cubed is 9 to her junior!).All my best wishes to her would-be kids.
There was another woman who wanted to 'drill' (that was the exact word she used) her daughter's entire syllabus into the seven year old's head unaware of the fact that her daughter had problems in understanding even the simple sentences she read (she used to guess the meaning by looking at the nearby pictures).
While this same woman gave me a disapproving look when she saw me reading The Reader's Digest (I was supposed to read text books instead of 'magazines') another teenager was disappointed that the same magazine did not contain any gossip on commercial films and their actors!
And yes ,I cannot forget the speech of the Principal of the college I used to attend who wanted all the students of his to watch a particular telugu commercial flick (one of the worst of its kind) to energise themselves.And this man in his seventies got very annoyed when he saw the disgusted and bored out expression on my face amongst the giggles of silly girls who found this man extremely young and funny!
I guess I have written a rather long comment.But I just couldn't contain myself.On a similar note,I would love to read a sequel of this post with more of your funny and thoughtful anecdotes
Rashmi di