Fruit poisoning – King of Fruits


How are fruits being artificially ripened in Chennai, India


“Mangoes” the word itself makes a majority of them go craving for it. The colors and shapes of mangoes makes it even more attractive for people to consume as and when they see one. If you are pondering why I have not talked about the most important characteristic feature of mango which is the “SMELL”, I certainly have some justifications.

My mom is a very fond eater of mangoes and so am I. Off late she discourages me from eating mangoes because of the many news articles which floats around about artificial ripening. Yes, it is indeed true and very scary to know the facts about this concept of fruits being ripened artificially through the use of cancerous chemicals like CALCIUM CARBIDE.

Consumption of calcium carbide, known to be cancer-causing, has other terrible health implications that can negatively affect skin, kidneys, heart and liver, and causes ulcer and gastric problems. “Industrial grade” calcium carbide contains arsenic and phosphorous. This is highly dangerous for those consuming it and also those handling it. It can not only cause cancer, ulcer and other ailments but also severely impede neurological functions.

With such a looming disaster in front of our eyes, we the citizens of India feel very handicapped and succumb to the greedy and evil commercial vendors who sells these POISON to us without any concern for the health and safety. The irony here is that we feed these poison to our own families and friends with a big neglect for the consequences we would face in the near future.

The big question is that what is the State and Central Government doing to eradicate this vicious practice.

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My sons (Raagav) first day at school

Very smart was my Dad to tell me a bedtime story on the night of 23rd July 2008 about a police officer knocking at my neighbor’s house and checking if my friend Aveeshkha has gone to school.

The script goes somewhat like this “Aveeshkha seems to be troubling her parents in waking up every morning to get ready and go to school. Tired and frustrated about this, Aveeshkha’s Dad calls a police officer to come home and check her out. The officer does arrive promptly but by mistake knocks at my house and asks if someone was causing trouble in getting ready for school. And this is where my Dad proudly tells the officer that both Raagav and Ramya are very good and they never trouble in getting ready for school. And not wasting much time he points the finger at the neighbor’s house…..”

Are you reading between the lines here? Well, I was really dumb that night and got carried away by my Dad’s narration and believed that both I and my sister Ramya were so good. My Dad was adding all the thrills and frills to his storyline and in fact made me to literally sleep in fear of a cop standing with a baton just outside our house. Also trembling within the cozy blanket was my sister who was unable to express herself after listening to the POLICE STORY, but at the same time giggling about the fact that Dad said she was very good in getting ready for the school. Mum was as usual elated by Dad’s creativity and his ability to pull out something like this on the eve of me going to school.

Slept reasonably well through the night not knowing that I will be falling soon into a routine which will deprive me of exhibiting my mischievous activities at home with my Mum and Paati (Grandma). Occasional cough which I had that night kept my Mum a bit vigil to wake up in the early hours of the 24th July 2008.

My parents along with my Sister and Paati had done their homework in preparing for the auspicious occasion of my FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL. At around 6:30am in the morning Dad slowly crept onto my bed and following that was a heavy bombardment of kisses and cuddles. He was showering me with all my pet names and nick names from his memory to somehow wake me up. With the characteristic refusal and reluctance I slowly opened my eyes to see a big sigh of relief from my Dad in accomplishing something. Since I love my Dad a lot I was equally overwhelmed to have such a good start for the day. Well, the great irony here is that until this day my parents always felt that I should sleep longer so that I do not trouble them in the early hours when my Dad and Sister were getting ready….

Carrying me down the stairs in his arms, my Dad just gave a synopsis of the POLICE STORY which he told me the previous night. I simply had no choice except to grab the toothbrush and start dancing to his tunes.  It was as if two teams competing for glory, my Dad and Mum were pampering both me and my Sister respectively to see who gets ready for the school first. (Dad later confessed to me that he had a bit of jitters the previous night on the additional responsibility he was about to take in preparing me for the school.)

With the well orchestrated stage, I was simply made to perform a character which was not my own. My Paati and Mum were cheering me for even silly things I did which made me to ponder why they were different till yesterday. Gaining all the importance at that moment, Mum played my favorite songs from the movie Sivaji which is one thing that makes my mouth open involuntarily (Let me stop your straying mind at this stage! I am too young for the actress Shreya). Yes, you got it right. Mum certainly capitalized on this situation and fed my breakfast comfortably.

“Bob the Builder” school bag was all loaded with my tiny lunch box and alternate dress for me (only for accidental spills because I have already been POTTY trained). Dad insisted me to wear the denim cap he had bought to hide my spiky hair style which he was not at all happy about. Nevertheless, I was given all the attention which I did not expect. Proudly holding the hands of my Dad I was walking towards the car to jump into my car seat when my Paati came with her blessings and wishes and of course not forgetting to ask for her Kakku (a very rare commodity).

My parents were very proud of seeing both my sister and I geared up in the school costume and relishing that moment there were few flashes from my Dad’s camera to register the nostalgic moment. Peeping out of the window I was shocked to see my friend Aveeshkha cheerfully boarding her car to go to the school. The child intelligence kicked in me and told that “How come she is so cheerfully going to school when Dad was talking all about Police, baton, locking up, etc”. Though raining, we reached theElaBeachPre-school on time and made our way to the school.  Suddenly I realized that my Sister was behaving as if she is a very senior student knowing all the etiquettes of pre-school.

Very colorful, cool and clean atmosphere, dangling decorations, building blocks, cute little toys, semi cheerful kids, pleasant fragrance, friendly teachers and a sense of freedom was extending a warm welcome to me and whispering in my ears “Raagav, welcome to the Ela Beach Pre-school”. Not wasting time, I and Ramya were exploring the length and breadth of the school when I overheard my Dad talking something about Vegetarians and Cold water, etc to the teacher. Later Dad and Mum decided to fight with the dinosaurs which were invading all over the tiny table kept in one corner.

Yes, that’s the corner they decided tactfully to make me indulgent in fighting with the beasts while they sneaked cowardly out of my vicinity.

Aunty Rita helped me sincerely in looking for my family who I thought disappeared mysteriously. Immediately I gave them a sample of my melancholy note coupled with variable frequency notes (crying and screaming) to prove that I am Raagav and not someone else. My anger and frustration prevailed partially until when my Dad came to pick me up at lunch time. Seeing a glimpse of him through the misty glass door, I shouted in joy to Aunty Rita “Hey! my Dad has come”. I gave a bit of orientation to my Dad on my play area and then I was all jubilant to pack my bags and leave home.

It was now my turn to give a teaser to my sister by walking into her class room and telling her that “I am going home with Dad now and you enjoy your lousy bus ride back home”. Mum and Paati were all too anxious at home to receive me and listen to my achievements of the day. They probed me enough to see if a word or two comes out in English from me, but I disappointed them sincerely and voluntarily. Mum reached for my bag quickly to see if I have finished the mini-lunch she has made for me. Well, no choice for me. I had to bring a empty box to keep her smiling always. But my only hope is that the POLICE STORY will not be repeated tonight…..

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A eunuch (unique) harassment technique

The evening of the 25th of June 2011 was very sultry as any other day, which indeed was not a big surprise for people in Chennai during the summer especially. It makes you to hate yourself for no reason and leaves you with no choice excepting to keep yourself hydrated at all times. Busy at work, I found myself suddenly looking at the clock and shouting to myself “Oh! Shucks…. I forgot to buy the gift

Yes, I was supposed to attend a birthday party that evening and had this unwilling task on hand to buy a gift for the birthday girl. Well, my reputation of selecting boutiques proved unfavorable for me that evening. I just informed my team at work that I will be back soon and I set on foot towards the famous showrooms in one of the busiest shopping spot in Chennai called “Pondy Bazzar”.

I usually like to walk and in fact I also took this as an excuse to make myself proud and happy that I am doing some physical workout. Though not a pleasant experience to walk in Chennai during summer, I was very determined to reach my destination by foot and get back to work on time. Passing by the street side food vendors induced my appetite and made me to crave for the sumptuous Channa and Pulav which my wife had prepared specially for the birthday party. Treading my foot carefully on the filthy roads I was shocked when a eunuch placed her hand flat on my head with a rubbing motion and showering her blessings for my longevity. Known for my aversion towards someone touching my head/hairs, my instinct pushed her hand and warned her from any such gestures again.

This act of mine bewildered her and in a split second I was surrounded by three eunuchs with one of them demanding or rather commanding to give them some money. Well, I immediately realized that something was brewing up and involuntarily I was being dragged to the spot light. Embarrassed by the threat from them and more so due to the onlookers, I tried to brush them aside and make move. But this time they showed their force on me and held me by my shirt collar and swore at me in a language which could not be published in this blog by any standards. Perplexed by this situation, I refused to pay them any money. Ignorant of their next course of action, I was just gazing at them in dismay when one of them belligerently shouted that she will lift her skirt and embarrass me if I do not pay her some money.

Startled by her ultimatum, I decided not to be part of any more embarrassment and struggled my way out from their strangle hold. While I was contemplating on my expulsion from them, they were very sincere in swearing at me with all the possible filthy words and one of them was sincerely executing her last ultimatum which she had given me. In this depth of despair, I somehow released myself from the three and ran for asylum. Till date I feel thankful for that showroom which was nearby where I ran for safety. As soon as I came inside the showroom, I felt as if I have escaped from some hardcore hooligans. Not too late, I realized that all the staff of that showroom had been a witness to the unique harassment which I was going through in their vicinity….

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Chennai at its best for bike riders – Thanks to Pongal holidays

Testing your bike riding skills, or street racing could all be a “Dream come true” for any vehicle owner in Chennai during the Pongal holidays. Wish the roads and streets of Chennai remain deserted like this atleast once a month so that the drivers/riders could have some precious “Peace of mindwhile on their wheels.

I was indeed taken by surprise by the amount of importance the Pongal festival (Jan 2011) has got in Chennai  (I have been overseas for quite sometime). All the State Government institutions were illuminated with colorful and dazzling lights. Trees present in the vicinity of the 5 star hotels were lucky to be decorated with some colorful lights slightly imitating Singapore during festive seasons.

Not knowing that Chennai was wearing this grandeur costume, myself and my wife set out to visit my mother in-law in our newly purchased wonder. Yes, indeed it’s a blessing to ride a two-wheeler in Chennai. Though I own a car, I am cocksure that every two-wheel rider  (including bicylces) would feel the pride in navigating the congested roads with their two wheels. Eventhough these bikes do have their drawbacks during the hot and wet season, I will definitely support the two wheelers whole heartedly not for the way their ride their bikes but for the privilege they have in reaching home early.

The cold breeze during the month of January (Chennai people look forward for December and January mainly for this cold weather), was blowing so gently which made me even sacrifice my helmet for that ride. Of course the other excuse in not wearing a helmet is that I find it very inconvenient to talk to the pillion rider especially when it is my wife. That feeling of cold breeze and my wife sitting at the back of my bike was in itself quite a pleasant ingredient for a jolly ride. However, when we covered a few meters in our ride, we found ourselves in a different planet altogether because there was hardly any soul on the road and the traffic was only a bare minimum. Well, this helped me to show some tricks and test my bikes performance at 80km p/h which is not a possible during other days. We enjoyed the ride so much so that we reached our destination so quickly and planned to meet few other relatives who were not in our consideration earlier.

Only regret – Did not capture the empty roads and streets.

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Uncomfortable hospital experience – Behind closed doors

My mom recently got operated for a fracture in her right shoulder. Sure enough, it is a very painful experience whether it is a 7 year old or 73 years old as my mother. Osteoporosis is a medical jargon which is getting popular these days with the old people and the Doctors. Sometimes I ponder whether the term is too generic to be used as a cover for the accidents which happens with the old people (Doctors not to take offense).

Well, the inevitable had to happen on that fateful day (10th August 2010) when she had to brace herself for the worst experience in her life time. I decided to write this blog to reflect the feelings of an old patient who had a traumatic experience, not in the operating bed but during the pre and post operative procedures. I could be pretty naïve in my intention to share this with you, but believe me that I felt the same as a witness to what my mother went through.

One of the most uncomfortable feelings a old person would have is that she or he should not become a burden to their family members be it a son or daughter. Proud feeling thrives when they are independent and a feeling of guilt eats it all when they become dependent on someone. The following experience is not meant to serve as a deterrent to patients waiting to get operated but it is a longing in me to find some truth and justification to some unanswered questions.

As a pre-operative procedure, she was given some mild sedative and other medications. All sorts of food were stopped atleast 6 hours before operation. When the actual moment came she was asked to wear a light green color SUIT before she could sit on the wheel chair. The dress was so light not only in color but in weight as well. Perhaps the reason being that there were no buttons and other safety features to protect the body from being exposed. Humiliation started right from that moment onwards because the dress was not decent enough for either a young lady or an old lady or even for the opposite sex. She buried her head in shame and despair especially when a male ward boy was asked to take her to the operation theatre.

As per her narration, she was asked to get of the wheel chair and temporarily sit in a zone labeled STERILE. What I could not understand is that those wearing those green color coded uniform move frequently in and out of the theatre and therefore it fails to justify me whether they would be sterile in anyway. It seems she felt so awkward to displace herself from the wheel chair in front of so many Doctors both male and female. To put it bluntly she was half naked it seems. When she tried to pray the god for everything to go well, there comes the mind in an instinct it seems to instruct her to cover herself properly and not to get exposed. With the assistance of two people she was made to lie under the powerful operating lights. She told me that at that stage she failed to assign priority to her thoughts whether she has to worry about the operation or her personal safety.

With myself and my sister anxiously waiting outside the theatre she was pulled out in a stretcher with bare minimum consciousness. She could hardly see us. Anesthetist gave a nod that everything went well. She was bought back to her room and another odd procedure was in the queue. We were all asked to get out of the room and she was being transported from the stretcher to her bed. I was told that four of them would lift with the bed sheet and sought of drop her in the bed. Now this is all done by male assistant. Thank god she did not have much consciousness to realize this.

My question is very simple. With so many sexual abuses being reported in all the media in various fields of work including the medical field, what control is in place in the hospitals to govern these kind of incidents which are the norm of the day? Can’t there be a better way to handle the patients and can the dresses be more dignified? Does the hospitals have any control over these incidents and how secured the patients can be in this atmosphere? Should the hospitals wait for an incident to happen and brought to the limelight before it revises or revisits it policies or can the medical fraternity come up with a more comfortable and governed procedure?

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A bus journey in Chennai, India – An hour of abuse in route 27c

A jerky bus journey from T.Nagar to Koyambedu

Sexual abuse in bus

A Crowded bus in Chennai

Having an own transport to commute comfortably within the city with a fully loaded car, would definitely distract or even stop you from using any other means of transport. Well, the situation in my case demanded me to commute by bus on the day when I witnessed the pain of traveling by bus. If you are thinking what the “SITUATION or CIRCUMSTANCES” could have been, I can only assure you that I will definitely write another blog on that.

Scorching heat and humid conditions of Chennai will dampen the spirits and morale of even the most ardent disciples of the great Tamil poet Bharathiyar who is quoted saying “Fear not even if the thunder falls on your roof. Be determined on the task you have set to achieve”.

Well, if he was alive in our era, he would have probably rephrased the quote as “Fear not even if the temperature soars to 40 degrees. Be determined on the task you have set to achieve.” Ofcourse not to blame him because, global warming is a phenomenon which was probably unheard of nearly half a decade ago.  Discomfort sets in very early in the morning during summer in Chennai and remains as ORDER OF THE DAY until you switch on that wonderful invention called “Air Condition” at night. I honestly feel very guilty every day after my shower especially during summer when I wear my singlet along with the shorts.  This is because, being a male I definitely feel a lot comfortable not wearing a t/shirt or a shirt because of the inevitable sweating you are about to experience. But when I think of the ladies in the house who could not do the same because of the Indian culture, most of the time I resort to wearing a t/shirt and a shorts which I consider as self penalizing or probably think that I would want to share the same uncomfortable experience as others in the house atleast in the dress code.

If you were wondering why I am describing the summer in Chennai in more detail, you would appreciate this background information when you proceed to read further. Carrying a red Samsonite backpack which some say is characteristic of me, I walked my way through the hustle and bustle of the crowded shopping hot spot called T.Nagar in Chennai. I was very anxious and ofcourse cautious about my approach towards the bus terminus because it has been so many years since I have set my foot on a passenger bus. To give you a graphical picture of how the place looks like, I could simply say that it’s a large playground where you can see literally all possible moving and stationary things and people in one place with no order.  Bus Terminus Also not to mention the fact that this journey of mine on the famous streets of T.Nagar was bringing back some nostalgic memories of those golden days when I was straying around in these streets during my teens before I left overseas.

Relishing those sweet memories, I reached the bus terminus pondering as to which bus I should board to reach my home in Koyambedu. Affirming my thoughts I had my HTC vibrate in my pocket alerting me of an incoming call. (Well, any fancy or famous ringtones would be of no use in this place where the noise pollution is formally rated and published as beyond living conditions.) I approached a booth which used to be the ENQUIRY booth many years back. Not to my surprise the guy sitting inside the booth in uniform directed me to another place to the far right to get answer for my simple question.  Wading my way through the fleet of buses I managed to get the bus number which will take me home.

Crowded bus in Chennai

Since it is a bus terminus, normally most passengers hope to find a seat to make their journey a bit comfortable. Well, Lady Luck never was in my side in the past and was never on that day as well. I boarded the bus from the back entrance and gently removed my backpack and held it in my left hand and stood near a pole/bar to hold myself tightly during the journey. The bus was well crowded to my standards and therefore I was not the odd man standing. Walking through the streets was more than enough to call the sweat glands into action and impartially these glands volunteers for every one during the Chennai summer. I was slowly getting drenched in my sweat and therefore pulled out my handkerchief to freshen myself. In the background I could hear people around me calling and shouting for the bus driver to start the bus immediately. Little does the middle class know about the free SAUNA experience you can have in a bus.

Bringing relief to our despair, the bus jerked vigorously and everyone knew it was the starting phase of the bus. Our bus started to move slowly and the conductor of the bus asked the people standing to move gently to the front of the bus so that he could squeeze in a few more people boarding the bus. Even before the bus could reach the exit of the terminus, I easily moved to the front because all it takes is a push from people inside the bus and you move like being in a travelator. Reaching the front, I observed three ladies (two middle-aged, and one young girl in pink color chudidhar) standing in the Gents side of the bus 3 feet away from me. The bus hardly travelled at 5km/ph approaching the exit of the terminus, when a young girl in a beautiful green color Salwar rushed and boarded the bus. She managed to climb the steps hurriedly which were full of young and old guys. She then safely stood near the ladies section of the front side of the bus. Obviously she seems to be returning from work and was all stressed up by the looks of it. Bus slowly started picking speed……and the journey began.

Right in front of me and at the back of that young girl in green was a gentleman of average height with a very pious look and he certainly boasted it with an explicit bright sandalwood paste on his forehead. Bus was still within the shopping territory and hence the driver was unable to engage the top gear. The crowd on the road was so chaotic and the fellow drivers so erratic, our bus driver was stamping on the brake pads so often which jolted and jerked everyone inside the bus. Fitness certainly demands it place when you want to commute by a bus in Chennai.

The young girl, who came with her two other relatives, murmured something to them which spontaneously sparked a fellow male passenger. Curiously looking at why this guy was provoked, I saw a guy in a full khaki uniform standing behind that young girl who said to that girl “If you do not want to be even accidentally rubbed or touched, you should choose other means of transport. Blame it on the bus and the bus driver.” Her relatives now became wary of the girl’s concern and discomfort and tried to protect her from any further abuse. But in a crowded bus like this and in such a humid condition, they were seemingly helpless excepting to start a bit of gossip to give her some company. But I could see that the girl was not paying even an iota of attention to any of the gossips because she was being constantly abused by the man in khaki under the excuse of the bus journey.

Meantime, the girl in the green dress was turning her head sideways (both sides) to see who was disturbing her from the back side. Well, I guess she was not shocked to see a male standing behind her. I was shocked to realize that this pious man was rubbing her from the back under the same excuse of the bus journey. Having a slight height advantage, I was watching both the abusing incidents unfolding in front of my eyes. This pious man was literally not bothered about the disgusting facial expressions given by the girl in green dress but on the contrary was constantly moving back and forth making the best use of opportunity. Abuse of the girl in pink dress and the girl in green was increasing right through the journey and both seemed victimized. Every attempt for the girls to move away from the situation was in vain because of the crowd. Well, the reality is that if not for the khaki and the pious guy, someone else would continue the abuse as a relay.

The girl in pink dress uttered a sentence loudly enough for the majority of us to hear. In her verbatim, she said “I did not know that such filthy things happen in a bus ride in Chennai. Does the conductor have any control of the situation or no?” This indirectly revealed that she was a stranger to the Chennai city and she of course fervently promised that never ever she would get on a bus in Chennai again. I also heard her saying that never in her district of Coimbatore this kind of abuse would be permitted or even tolerated by anyone. She thoroughly regretted not using an auto rickshaw to travel to her destination. Panning my eyes in the front, the girl in green was turning red all over but surprisingly remained silent because any agitation from her side might tarnish her image and call for a unhealthy exchange of words which most of the girls or ladies abstain from indulging in.

As if I was running short of these experiences, I could see another young girl sitting with red tops diagonal to the left of me showing signs of discomfort. This was a situation in contrary because the girl was comfortably seated on the window side definitely few feet away from the male.  Glancing a few times towards that side, I could infer that she was not comfortable sitting with the baggy type tops she was wearing because she was becoming conscious about the prying males standing on the sides. This particular incident captured all the pathos of the situation faced by these ladies and young girls who are travelling by bus day in and day out. It certainly instigated me to write this blog with the sole intention to express my empathy for these girls who have to endure this abuse unwillingly. Society in general is so lip tight about these kinds of incidences firstly because it is very common and secondly people including me feels much unsecured.

Reaching my destination in Koyambedu, finally gave relief to the girl in the pink dress who got off with me, and a place to sit for the girl in green because majority of the passengers disembarked. Fate of the girl in the red tops and other ladies presumably continued till their destination and will continue forever until they own a vehicle which has four doors and tinted glasses…….

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My daughters (Ramya) first day at school

I was in slumber at 5:45am on the 16th of January 2006 when I woke up to the noise of a toothbrush falling on the floor of the bathroom, which was next to my bedroom. My FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL was supposed to be a BIG acid test for me, but for some reason I do not know why it cost my parents sleep the previous night. With the usual cuddles and fiddles I was bought into the world of reality that morning. Brushing with my favourite “Pusy Cat” toothbrush and gurgling and spitting the water with a big thrust always excited my Dad more than my Mother. Little did I know about the surprise, which was waiting for me at that time. Out of my normal routine, my parents decided to give me an incentive to have shower with my Dad (sparing the bubble bath), which was only a happening in the weekends.

Both my Mom and Dad created a lot of excitement in me about the good things of going to the school. In principle I was also enthusiastic and jubilant about going to the play school with my fancy little snack box with glittery stickers and my cute little teddy(stickers) adorning the sides of the boxes. My water bottle was transformed into a little aquarium with some colourful fishes all around. Believe me, I was also given a little lunch box with only very little noodles and ofcourse a lot of optimism from my parents that I would come back with an empty lunch box. This made me think that I was a BIG girl and put a lot of burden on my little shoulders.

I had hand picked my own dresses for the week to wear for the school. But I presume like most parents do, I was a little disappointed with a slight change in my selection for MONDAY (the very FIRST DAY OF MY SCHOOL). I took it in my stride and happily got myself into their choice of costume. The other big challenge my Dad felt was the fact that I opted not to wear the nappy (I imagined myself going to the real SCHOOL where big girls and boys go). Would I keep up or exceed the expectations of my Dad, Mom and Grandma was ofcourse the biggest question of the day?

Traditional and ofcourse the branded colour for girls kept to its name again when I was all dressed up in pink when I was looking for my black shoes to match my Dad’s office wear. We both sat in the lounge and I made him proud by saying that “both Dad and Ramya are wearing black shoes and white socks today“. I could not wait anymore as soon as the shoes were in my feet and therefore quickly grabbed my water bottle and my little “BJ” bag to say “Bye Bye” to my grandma. I was asked to keep up our Indian culture and make grandma and the gods happy by asking them for their blessings. Blessings were what I was told to expect, but instead I ended up with a few kisses all over my face from my grandma. Not a new thing for me, so I did not cherish it much. Well, I only pondered why our Indian culture did not encourage any TOYS as a gift for the kids for the “FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL”

I was parading inside the house with my school outfit and briefly went outside to see if anyone would compliment me on my attire. There I saw in a wink, our housemaid “Ruth” who was just coming into the compound. I shouted “Ruth, look at me, I am going to the school today”. Yes, you guessed it right. The prompt actually came from my Dad who was just behind me feeling proud of my enthusiasm in going to the school. Honestly, none of them at home could neither believe nor were optimistic on my FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL.  We took off from home after a few more kisses from and to my grandma and a lots of “BYE BYE” to the security guards and Ruth. When we were driving out of the compound, my Dad gently whispered to my Mom in the car saying “this grandma is really cheeky and cunning in getting so many of these precious kisses from Ramya.” Well, only I knew the ultimatums, which my grandma gives to me if I don’t. (She seems to capitalise too much on her recent visit to Sydney and often threatens me that she would pack off and go back, or the other most common thing is she would say “she will only play with other kids and not me”)

We reached the school before my parents could finish giving me all the advices during that short drive. Now here comes the reality with a BIG BANG for me. Yes, we were really in front of a big building with a few cars parked in the sides and a big board with a cartoon character presumably the “Peter Pan”. I ascertained my thoughts by asking my Dad, “Dad is this the school?”. “Yes darling” replied my Dad with a smile blended with a bit of fear .  I got off happily and took a brief walk through the beautiful rain forest kind of a place, only to show my first sign of reluctance and unhappiness at the slightly clogged and marshy water in the first step of the school which was the courtesy of a heavy rain the previous night. My first words were that “Mom, this place is dirty and wet. We shall go back to our home”. This landed as an atom bomb for my parents who was all geared up to give me a totally new experience.

Right at this moment my parents felt that their ACID TEST has just begun. We stepped into the school, which was very colourful with so many good toys and play stuff and ofcourse a few neatly dressed cordial staff.  My Dad was probably expecting to see some clowns and some funny people / characters like him to attract and accustom the play school students. But he was definitely wrong. All three of us were wandering the place when we were met by the Managing Director of the school. Dad and Mom started displaying their typical parental responsibilities by asking the MD a lot of questions to ensure the safety and welfare of me. I was becoming absolutely restless at this stage and felt that I was missing my Dotsun, Candy, Barney, Angela, Sisi, Pinky, Blue bear and ofcourse Mickey. Not having a clue about my intentions of going back, my Dad was finalising my enrolment in the school and was briefly explaining my routines and other characteristic things about me. In the background I saw Tarun coming into the school with his parents. Tarun did not even show any sign of him being at an alien place. Another familiar face after a while was Aditi who seemingly came on her own.

While my Dad was involving in some fellowship, my Mom and myself briefly played with some great toys there and interestingly in a very short time I could make the big teddy bear at the school go to sleep. Even before I could proudly proclaim that I made the teddy bear to sleep, I was asked to cook something for my Mom with the wonderful kitchen sets. I had a lot of utensils to do my assignment and it was always a piece of cake for me. I was pretty swift to make her some fruit salad and ice cream. I even ironed my Dad’s shirt and gave it to him after looking for him in the toy world. I meantime arranged my little chairs and organised the dishes neatly which gained the attention of the MD of the school who complimented me by saying “Well, this little girl has got good organisational and management skills”. For wrong reasons my Dad happened to hear that comment and started to build castles in the air about me. He would have repeated that comment atleast five times at home the last time being just before going to bed. 

Obviously my Dad was getting impressed with the place gradually and I could sense that he was gaining more confidence every second he was talking to Mrs.Riri who I did not know was going to be my best friend for the whole day.  For the first time I was beginning to fear that I might loose the fight against my “will to go home”. My Dad thought he was smart in making some gestures and talking in English to my Mom about slowly sneaking out of the school. But I was proving my smartness that I was his daughter and pre-empted his intention and got ready to leave with them. Guess who won??????

I still assume that with heavy heart my Dad and Mom left me while we were still playing hide and seek together. I kept looking for them in the vast place in every nook and corner only to realise that they have won and proved again that Adults know more tricks than the kids. Now it was my turn to exhibit my true colour by achieving the peak of my voice in crying. But it was Mrs.Riri’s turn to become the clown, the funny character, the care taker and all the things which my Dad assumed to be in a Play school. I gradually settled down after loosing my energy and expressing my sincere feeling of being away from both my Mom and Dad. Yes, indeed I literally settled DOWN in the bed laid out in the floor and slept for few minutes.

When I woke up I thought there would be some miracle and I would be in the comfort of my home with my cute Blue bear and Mickey lying beside me and that I would be gazing at the dangling stars and planets setup by my Dad. But I was disappointed again and therefore I cried and drew the attention of Mrs.Riri. My cry co-incidentally was an alarm for the Music / Song time at the school. They played some songs and everyone danced and so did we. I was still not comfortable with the place and therefore was clinging onto Mrs.Riri. The language and the rhythm of the song was in total contrast to the songs which I have heard while my Mom used to dance. But for sure I picked up the tune and the steps not knowing the philosophy that “music did not have any barriers”.

The clock was slowly approaching 12 noon. All the kids assembled in the dining table and so did I (ofcourse with Mrs.Riri). They taught us a little grace to say before we had our food. I missed the usual way of having lunch with my Mom and Grandma and therefore did not have any interest in eating. I was having a bit of peeled grapes, when my Parents had slowly sneaked in and was standing and observing my activities and interactions. Though they disappointed me, I did not reciprocate the same but instead made them feel elated by talking a few words in English while interacting with Mrs.Riri. Having seen a sample or two from me, they were very contended and revealed themselves to me. Involuntarily I gave a big smile to them and slowly I was in the arms of my Mother who was obviously in tears. But it was a bit “too ambitious” for my Dad to look at the snack box and the lunch box, which was definitely untouched.

My Dad was already planning for the SECOND DAY while I was contemplating on my next move. We went home happily and I did not know that there would be a grand reception for me at home from my grandma. She asked me more questions than my parents did while I was at the back of my mind still furious about the whole episode. All of them at home treated me as if I have made a big achievement. Finally they managed to instil that pride in me accepting the fact that “Yes I have achieved something”

I could not stop humming the song and tap my feet for the song, which was sung in the school that day, which was still reverberating in my ears. Grandma and my Mom were ecstatic about this and called my Dad at office to share the moment. With so much of interrogations, I also had to confess the other thing, which I had learnt in the school the first day. It was the grace or the prayer, which was taught before having the food. My parents simply felt that I have already been graduated.

Pretty momentous FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL.

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