Wednesday, January 16, 2008

silence, please!

I'm an enlightened soul today. Now I see the wisdom behind the seemingly weirdo, but highly simplified Mallu nomenclature of using any random disyllable and (magic magic!!) making a name out of it.

So, in the Malluland, a Roji, Bibi or Cijo might sound like your regular Tom, D*ck or Harry, but when they step out of Malluland, it's a unique name.. no other being of any other place would have thought of such creative combinations of sounds, and making a name out of it!
and you think the name sounds too silly and simple? then there you go, we have tongue twisters for family names anyways! eat that!!

And then there was another trend in the Mallu nomenclature arena, which made its presence felt a li'l later.. of making names out of adjectives.. (a trend which was specialised by the Punj brotherhood, which consists of names like Happy, Lucky et al).. But the Mallus are too proud a lot to be copycats, so that trend died a slow death.. Though there were some creative use of adjectives, during that phase... So they named this school friend of mine, 'Gritty'. Hers was a unique name at school(she assured me she stills googles her name to make sure that no other Gritty has popped up on the surface of earth yet), which was good, as we didn't have to bother about referring to her by her full name as we used to do with many other contemporaries of our times like the Veenas and Smithas with initials ranging from A-Z.

well.. mine was also a pretty unique name at school... err.. barring the fact that every other girl in the school had an usha chitta / usha ammaayi in their family, i.e, if their Mom's name isn't usha. hmmph.. How many times have I run into old school-mates who would fish me out from nowhere and ask : 'Usha, right? I remember you very well.. 'coz you share the same name as my Mom's!!' gimme a break, I say!!

Another advantage of her name, as I just realised, is that it makes it easy for her long lost friends to look her up at the lost&found online apps like orkut. My bad.. I still couldn't trace her in there.. but thanks to her equally innovatively christened kid brother, I could manage to find my way to her. She's a happy homemaker now with a 5 yr old daughter. I must say, I was somewhat heartbroken to know that she isn't employed... I have no specific reason why I felt so bad.. mebbe because she was the only person I knew at primary school, who had a real ambition to talk about.. you know, other than the regular 'Teacher', 'Doctor' and all one is made to write about, in the name of compositions.. (which makes me wonder whether they have added 'software techie' to that list of yet.. should remind myself to confirm this with one of my astoundingly Yankee sounding fellow classmate kids at the guitar class..)

Coming back to Gritty, she was very much dedicated to her ambition of becoming an air-hostess even when she was 16.. that was the last time we talked before we parted ways. Me, to go the usual Engineering way and she, taking up her graduation in some stream which specialises in World History and Geography(no no.. no 'World Peace', that's for the Miss. beauty pageants, silly!), which she claimed, would help her abundantly in her career of choice.. So, eventually, after all those extensive planning with utmost conviction over all those years, it's sad she did not make it to that. She sure sounded very happy and contented with her life, and I guess that's what matters the most! but still... hmmph..

The most beautiful part about getting back to her was that, though she leads a life sooooo different in every respect from the one I'm living, yet we managed to connect so beautifully well with each other.. picking up the threads from exactly where we left!

We, like any other 'long lost-just met again' friends, started rewinding to that distant past when we belonged to a different world altogether.. where we were partners in crime, always getting under the nerves of teachers and class monitors.. That phase is very special to me , 'cause I've never been that person I was then, ever after school..

We were the most troublesome duo at class, so much that Sr. Kochutheresia used to call us 'chatterboxes' with a vengeance and frown which can be equated to showering profanities at us..
So, our 'Gooood Afternooooooon Sissssterrrr's were always reciprocated with a snappy 'shhhh... silence, please!' directed at us.

The teachers, when they used to catch us red-handed (should that be red-tongued?) would yell a 'Gritty stand up!!' ( primary school teachers were too good at creating a drama scene out of anything.. so they would never call both our names together.. One at a time, get the reaction of the single victim.. zoom from left, right and center like the Balaji Telefilms folks, and then summon the 2nd victim) and we being too smart (we still maintain, we were) wouldn't give her that chance to derive her sadistic pleasures, would both get up together.. and wait for the "Both of you, get out of my class.." after which, we get up and walk out chuckling to ourselves and knowing us, the hopeless chatterboxes, she would again scream.. "Both on opposite sides of the door, i say!" :D

The most wackiest days of school life was during those pre-teen days, just before getting into High School.. That was a phase when we collectively decided 'enough is enough' of the high handedness of the convent system and fought all those funny rules in our own ways.. It was fun, as the sisters or the appointed student monitors always used to live up to it and come up with counter tactics which made it all the more interesting for us to crack it.. For the uninformed, who think that Convents generally produce nice, just-out-of-finishing-school type girls, let me forewarn you, you could be terribly wrong. for all that you know, it also produces an equal number of rebel kids who eventually take their own time post-school to get back to a state of what is generally perceived in society as 'normalcy'.

Gritty and me belonged to a gang, to which I'm generally thankful for keeping that sanity factor alive in those days of insane rules and regulations and weird punishments. Like the time they came up with this rule of implementing effective punishments for students who prefer to talk in their mother tongue as against the Queen's language. Their logic was simple: humiliate, humiliate and humiliate till the victims decide to meekly adhere to the rules.. After the '50paise fine per word uttered in Malayalam' flopped royally, they turned to this innovative tactic of making a cardboard placard which read 'I spoke in Malayalam'. The game is, if the class monitor spots anyone talking in Malayalam, she makes the offender wear this placard around her neck during all the class hours which makes her feel like nothing less than wearing a garland of chappals, until she herself catches someone else red handed, talking in Malayalam, whereby she gives away the garland to the new bakra.. Needless to say, our gang being the most talkative of it all, had to have a member garlanded with the placard. But this time around, the garland was with the most innovative rule cracking gang(yes, cracking, not breaking.. there's a difference, you see!). So the strategy is: the offender keeps on talking in Malayalam by when the class monitor gets all irritated and starts arguing with her to shut up.. Our brave gang member doesn't, in fact she goes on arguing with the monitor girl in Malayalam till she forgets everything and breaks into a counter-attack argument in (lo!) Malayalam and our hero gang member hands out the garland very gracefully to the class-monitor.
I don't think I can ever describe in words, the fun we had, when the class teacher walked in to find the monitor herself adorned with the prized garland. That rule was banished the very same day.

which also reminds me of the nice Sr. Angela who made us write an imposition of "Empty vessels make much noise!" for one whole hour, to drill the point deep into our heads! I must say, that was the most innovative and efficient rebuke I've ever experienced at school.. She would've made a rocking Ad maker, i say! Also, she was the one who inspired us to do what was to become our first tryst with text messaging inside the classroom.. silent (well almost, except for the hushed chuckles which followed) and the most efficient mode of communication.

Ah, now I know who was my real inspiration to start blogging too.. Sr. Angela, you hearing? err.. reading?


  1. Hey that was a real nice read.. I should say convent schools are much the same everywhere.. the class monitors, the 50 ps fine for speaking in malayalam,.. Thank god we didn't have the placard. ;) But I didn't have the guts to play pranks in school, but did make up for that in PUC.. Poor teachers were fed up of us :P

  2. "Both on opposite sides of the door, i say!" Lol!

    We never had anything so extreme as the placards - I think house points were deducted. In Wales and France, they even had those placards with WN (Welsh Not) and le symbole to punish the school kids for not speaking in English and French. We're just 150 years behind, that's all!

  3. @dhanya: gee.. seriously.. it was fun to harass those teachers, right? (one sadist, i am) In this boring corporate world, you sleep through one whole training session and the instructor will still be as cool as a vellarikka. no fun, no?

    @nmouse: really?
    i don't quite understand what they really mean, but I guess, it must've been to make their people speak the language of the land, right? only, at our end, it's to punish the ones who speak their mothertongue!