Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy birthday blog :)

What started as a place strictly to hold poems on December 30, 2009 has blossomed today, four years down the line, it has blossomed o be the cusp of my thoughts, a wonderful platform to keep me in touch with  my one of my biggest loves, "Writing"

Happy 4th birthday :)

My first post is here :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Civil War

The title was just a subtle ploy to get more traffic to this site by some poor kids who probably are googling their homework tearing their hair in desperation. Well, they're not the only ones, I keep wondering why for the past few posts, I have had a depressing "no comments" status. Well, I've realised comments flood to the post when I write about

a) embarrassing stuff about me
b) think of some highly intellectual humour stuff
c) when am confused

So going by the first point, I have not been in any major embarrassing scrape, and my mind is mush considering all the exam preparation I've been at. So I'll have to settle for the third thing, confusion. Now, confusion is simply a decent term for controversy and nothing strikes Indian minds' fancy other than controversies and conspiracies. Nay, I'd say every one's mentality. Of course, this isn't a newspaper to sell, its about me for crying out loud, and am the least bit controversial person you'll find.

So what does confused me do? I attempt to make you laugh on a subject we've all heard, I attempt to make you see both sides of an issue that if you have not heard as an Indian, you've probably just immigrated here. And don't worry, if I fail, you have a beautiful rendition to enjoy by Mr. Krish Ashok, my Ekalavya Guru to blogging here.

Ms.V and Ms. N.V. sit at a table in one of those few restaurants that serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian buffets where the following conversation ensues, enter waiter stage left.

Part 1: The Argument

Waiter: What would you like to order madams?
N.V   : One hot and sour chicken soup please.
V       : (slight narrowing of eyes) Cream of tomato with masala papad.
(Waiter leaves)
          : So you're non-vegetarian?
N.V   : No! I mean, yes. You said it so accusingly, I just had to say no.
V       : Well yes, you're a good friend of mine, I never dreamed you'd keep this from me.
N.V   : Oh we should have a dietary status - vegetarian, non-vegetarian, eggitarian, vegan on facebook ;) Come on, I didn't think it was important.
V       : But just now you told me you hate cruelty to animals?
N.V   : Why yes I do! I don't like animals being cooped up in tiny cages or bred in inhumane, sorry, inanimate, sorry um... bad conditions.
V       : You don't realise the obvious cruelty to animals here?
(Waiter arrives with food)
N.V   : (Ladling a spoon), no I don't. If I do, I wouldn't eat would I?
V      : But your causing pain, destruction. You yourself, a feminist, have told time and again the system comes from an individual and if you do not change, how will the system?
N.V  : Look let's eat and then talk about this. (making a mental note to never take V to a non-vegetarian restaurant that serves great hot and sour soup ever again).
V     : You know what? Let's leave, you never know these kitchens, mixing veg and non-veg things up.
N.V : Oh let me just finish this soup. That's a tad too much I feel, come on eat up. I could say the same thing you know. Be affronted am at a place that serves both.
V     : What? Its quite alright, I've lost my appetite.
N.V : Oh come on, I can't see you like this, let's go wherever you want.

(They go travelling round the city).

Part 2: Convincing N.V

V      : Are you afraid of death?
N.V  : Sometimes, when am alone at night.
V      : Then, how can you justify this killing spree?
N.V  : I don't know, I was brought up that way.
V      : Don't you feel murderous?
N.V : Not really, no.
V     : Look at that, look at all those meat shops, the smell, the blood, look at all those poor things.
N.V : Stop, I get it. Look, I don't know about this.
V     : Would you eat a human?
N.V : Eeew! Of course not!
V     : Why does not that translate all into lower beings? Why are you so insensitive?
N.V : Being sensitive means caring about every animal's feeling? Well you don't seem very sensitive to my feelings.
V     : Come on, I want to help you.
N.V : Oh no! Am actually being convinced. I am sensitive. I do care, I can't imagine am snuffing out some character's life like Eragon realised.
V     : I knew you would be.
N.V : And it doesn't help I got the same advice from my best friend too.
V     : It's good for you, it's good for your planet and it doesn't pollute your soul or your environment.
N.V : Ok, what's the harm? I'll try.

Part 3: The Conflict

V     : So how's it going?
N.V : Been vegetarian for a month.
V     : Don't you feel better already?
N.V : Not really, I ate like twice a week and an egg every day, its not like a big difference.
V     : You must feel a heavy weight off your soul.
N.V : Well, it seems to make my friends happy.
V     : See, you soul is pure, the environment is pure.
N.V  : Look, you're right, I don't like hurting animals. So this is better. But I don't think it purifies the soul and all. Then, Mother Teresa would have to be impure. And the environment? Sure, I feel we have to have more environment-friendly meat centers, doesn't imply that meat is bad.
V      :  Meat is bad. It has fat that's bad for you.
N.V. : You get more protein too.
V     : So? Eat a lot more pulses. When you have veg choices, why go for non-veg?
N.V : Look, am veg now.. free.

Part 4: The Conclusion

Here Ms.V's best friend comes.

V 2.0 : Hi! Ms. V says your a new vegetarian.
N.V   : No I've gone back. You've gotta explain to her I've been going crazy for the past few months.
V 2.0 : It isn't such a big deal if you ask me.
N.V   :  Why yes, you see I've started feeling sorry for everything now.
V 2.0 : Yes I know, mechanised milking of cows?
N.V   : You read my mind, even plants, am a avid gardener, I can feel plants dying you know?
V 2.0 : Especially those they rip off the roots I suppose (with a sly grin)
N.V   : Obviously relieved am not freaking out anymore.
V 2.0 : Its law of nature, you need some form of life to survive. Its a personal choice.
N.V   : Wow I've never seen a vegetarian so cool about this!
V 2.0 : Its a personal choice like I said, depends on how you've been brought up.
N.V  : Exactly! I can't eat beef or squid or any other new animal 'cause am not used to it.
V 2.0: I'll tell V, you relax. Now how about some hot and sour soup? One veg and one non-veg?

So as of now, am non-vegetarian. I may change in future, I may not. And I don't eat in front of vegetarians. It's a choice. I don't think I ended up making anyone laugh, just gave some food for thought :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Cellular Chronicles

On this dark and stormy night, as the rain lashes my window stirring troublesome thoughts, sweet memories and sour endings, I decide to drum my fingers on my beautiful black desktop keyboard, a relic I've neglected in the wake of my smart phone and laptop.

Memories surface. I go back in time, to a time when the digits of my age reverse. I climb the stairs, wearing my chocolate brown uniform. At 5" 3', am towering middle school, little anticipating that that joy is fleeting. I have the usual pre-exam jitters, I enter the exam hall. There is bright sunlight, I sit down in my allotted seat, brushing my long plaits off the desk. I lower my eyes and the time starts.

Possessed by a manic obsession, my pencil zooms across, I see patterns, numbers, questions, theories, solutions, interpolations and magic squares. I hope I have given my best and am the last person to walk out. I put it out of my mind and go back to my class VII B. The results come out. From VII, I am selected. The toppers of VI, VII and VIII will form the junior quiz team of the state-level Jantar Mantar Science Quiz.

There is the puny fair guy from VI and tall dark guy from VIII, I make uneasy conversation. I certainly feel out of place. I look down upon the junior and look up to the senior. I feel somewhere between. Even the uniforms change for us when the student comes to VIII. So the VI belong to a lower order in my head, the VIII the oldest in middle school, are a complete mystery. Here I am, awkward in my overlarge pinafore, a precaution against further gain in height, a futile exercise had I known the outcome.We talk, we make it through the written round with ease. I am advised to read "The Hindu speaks on Scientific Facts".

We compete in the district level competition. Our hitherto unrecognised school name was on a white sheet amidst the best of the best. Names I had read in newspapers. I never say my school name in newspaper. Not that I read much news anyway. This is my first oral quiz. My heart beats. I have become quite good friends with my team mates. The younger one is lively and the older one is serious. The questions are bizarre. None of them were factual. We have to think so much. I answer very few. The senior is just living it. One question was to estimate the area of Madras. He gives us lots of clues which predicably takes us far away from the answer. But we are fast. By the third round we were leading in points. Before I can even smile, my senior says don't, we may go down anytime. We win with 50 points. It's a totally thrilling experience.

Here's the catch. The zonal levels are in Vizhupuram. Darling me who hasn't seen Chennai beyond the roads that lead from school to house and the occassional shopping, cannot be trusted to go in a school van with two guys and a lab assisstant and the school driver and van. So my mother decides to accompany us. A hugely relieved staff force is seen as none of the teachers could be spared to escort us on that day. But the only person who is still not convinced with the plan, the only person who has the power to disrupt it, is not a person I'd like to keep unhappy. My father. He does not like it at all. He can't put leave and he does not want his wife and daugher to travel so far from home. As his nail-biting increases, so does mine. When I was younger, I used to fight, I used to be stubborn. But am wiser now, I know that keeping my mouth shut and a saintly face, sprinkled with smooth obedience and a general tendency to not mess/clean up the mess at home. There is one day to go. My mother has bought enough food for winter, turns out to be what am taking tomorrow. Then the brainwave hits my father. Leaving me and my sister in the care of my grandparents, they take our brand-new Miami Gold car and go to a store. Meanwhile I have no idea what to study. I get a call from school telling me to be there at 5:30 in the morning. Then, it is unveiled.

My first cellular phone.

It's a gadget that all girlkind will describe as a necessary evil. Bought at an EMI of Rs.500, it is the assurance of continuous contact. My father is finally satisfied and he truly and happily wishes me all the best.

The next day the landline keeps ringing. My vice-principal is livid am not there and is 5:15. Thinking that it is not the best time to tell her that my house is ten minutes from school, I listen. Me in my uniform and my mother in a very cute, stately pink saree leave for school amidst fond good-byes fom my family. So the four of us get into the van and the it starts and we have no idea what happens for two hours because we sleep as though we have never slept before. Except my mother who got bored and bothered and woke up a completely non-plussed me pointing to a supposedly-exceptionally-famous temple that I have absolutely no interest learning about. As a last ditch effort, she tries to tell me what if they ask this in the quiz. I sleep before I completely roll my eyes.

My senior is a Christian. The school is a convent and he is simply describing the difference between cathedrals and churches. The only cathedral I knew is what came as "Wonder" in Age of Empires. We wait in a huge auditorium. The junior is coming up with a novel idea to write a big book of bad words so that if we need to swear, we needn't actually say it and throw the book at them instead. Not exactly the pre-quiz atmosphere I had envisioned. I am having a fun time, completely relaxed. I see people poring over books. We just don't play that way. There is a GIGANTIC speech be chief guest. Finally, the quiz is conucted in a tiny classroom. My mother was first looking from the window. When she saw other school teachers trying to help from the window, she didn't want to associate herself with them. I hear the first question. Its on light. Finally, my eyes light up. Light is right up my alley. This is it. Am so totally in my zone. And I get the first question wrong. My mother already teetering indecisively whether to leave or not, leaves. Still, I answer so many questions. Every question, every pass question, am jumping, am full of adrenaline. Math puzzles, light, electricity, astronomy, I leave the quiz master astounded. Actually quiz mistress. And we come first. My disbelieving mother cannot understand any of my incessant high pitched excited squeaks. We are extremely happy.

I make my first call, I call my father and tell him the great news.

That tiny insignificant phone is priceless to me. I bought it on Nov,1, a key to unleash my memories. My parents are happy that all the efforts paid. My teachers are happy. The state-level finals are conducted at Kalpakkam and we are the best team. I carry my phone with my teacher this time. I choose the table named 'Lily' simply because it's Harry Potter's mom's name. I am the only girl. For the first time, I notice that. I notice a serious emptiness in the scientific community, an uncomfortable moment. But then, the uiz begins. It is fast paced. The junior actually stood up and answered, I like to discuss things and I was irritated with him. Anyway, he got the answers right. All three of us are answering equally. Then, the most dreadful round. Each of us are given a packet of pulses and asked to identify. My team-mates were supremely confident they can nail it 'cause they have a girl. And subsequently they are disillusioned when they see am incapable of recognising dal. Zero points. We win with 60 points to 45. I call again.

Its a wondeful moment. To come onto the stage in school and clapped so hard till you blush furiously.

That cell phone took me back, into distant thoughts, VII was a period of change. I changed from a highly feminine frock wearing cute girl into a complete tomboy with a weakness for long hair. My friends said finally because whoever heard of a middle school girl wearing frocks. For many quizzes to come I was the only girl, a situation I gradually came to peace with. I realised I amazed guys who always think condescendingly girls are good for only academic studies. I was taken a bit aback at how many plot to be sweet to a girl so that she'll choose them for projects and they needn't do all he work. They accept me as one of their own, not noticing am actually annoyed with them. My fledgling feminism blooms. There were somethings that never changed. Listening to others and telling stories and thinking. My opinions change but my right to have them never did. My interest in science deepens along with my love for math. Its very rare to like both subjects with equal elan. I think its a perfect marriage, math and physics.

The rain ceases and I wake up.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Freedom at?

Midnight, 1947, August, we awoke while the world slept. We were born in tough times and our history is intricately sewn into the fabric of our nation, our diverse yet united nation, as the cliche goes. We have our flaws and our strengths. We are all different, and that's how we're the same.

What is freedom? Freedom, to me, is a golden trove of coins guarded by the dragons of toil and  strength. Freedom means responsibiltiy. Freedom means doing what is right even when no one is watching. Freedom is taking control and responsibility for your actions, for better or worse.

I am a feminist, as any acquaintance of mine can quickly gather. What does being a feminist mean today? Coming from a bustling metropolis, the image of an equal female Homo Sapiens is as common as the potholes on the road. What more could a woman want today, you ask? Has she not got all the freedom she could never have dreamed off in centuries?

You are right, my honourable reader, she has got more freedom today than her grandmother. She has far more respect in this country than in others. In every industry, her presence is accepted, whether grudgingly or not is another matter. What more can she want?

As you read this, if you feel that, yes feminism is unnecessary today, let me put a little perspective. As you read the preceding lines, did you feel, yes she has enough freedom? Enough respect? There is a problem there am afraid, you cannot actually decide how much freedom, it's really an all-or-none principle.

This post is purely personal, a reflection of my thoughts, some of these opinions are even against those of my close kith and kin, but am fortunate enough to experience that much freedom of expression in this blogosphere. Also, I am talking about my experience alone, I am not talking about the various issues of female foeticide or something I have not seen first hand, these are merely the shackles that bind me.

I have always had questions since I was small. Why? Why? Why? My parents were always patient with all my questions and never said they were too busy. If they found some question awkward or inappropriate, they would divert my attention (which was pretty easy!) , one of the most striking question-answer session surfaces to my mind. My father was expressing contempt at some young girl for coming home alone and late. I asked him, doesn't he always do that? You can imagine how the conversation went, perplexing my eight-year old mind, asking what was the problem if a woman wore no jewellery to attract theives or something?

I am a little more than a decade older and I have a new confusion on the topic. How can a soceity that has such a complex evolution from one of the oldest civilisations, right from Indus Valley, be so corrupt, selfish and unsafe for women? Why are we honed as rubies to be kept away from contempating eyes, locked away from the world, presented at appropriate occassions? Why do we need protection? Why does my father get tensed when I take public transport? Why is our clothing scrutinied by a pseudo-criminal eye before we step over the Lakshman Rekha of our homes? Why are single scientists and entrepreneurs looked down upon with more scorn than their male counterparts?

Why am I always dependent on some other?

I cannot tell someone I will be here at this point in time, It involves a complicated beauracratic process that will do a job-scheduling algortihm with resources, time and priority in question. This dependence irks me. When I went to attend tuition in high school, if it became late, it was the responsibility of my best friend to protect me. A girl's image is to be protected, for society loves whip-lashing its tongue over what it perceives a girl has done wrong, and what's worse blame her parents for it. She shoulders a lot of responsibility and respect but minimal freedom of expression, atmost she can expect a few consoling words from those close to her.

Broad daylight is too narrow.

And I need not even get started on the online arena, online security is the norm. Many girls, even today, shy away from Facebook and other social networking sites altogether. Photos are dangerous. If you have a profile picture and God help you if your photo has 100 likes, you will get friend requests from Pune to Madurai. On an aside, why would I accept a friend request from Naan Kettavan?

What should I do? Should I hide in the deepest dungeons of Snape, attain a society-approven pale colour when I do not allow even light to enter my life? Should I look ugly (more than I am anyway ;-) ? Should I wear clothes that will drive people as far as they would go if they met Pumbaa in the morning?

I want to be the one to walk in the sun. I do not want umbrellas, I do not want bodyguards, I do not want guardian angels. I present myself in a way that commands respect but still hints of an air of approachability. I acknowledge this is a personal line I draw for what I deem presentable may seem modern to others, its an issue that can be debated for hours, clothes. 

When there are no men to attack and no men to protect and no men to tell you what they decide is the norm for society - women as fair as snow, working as teachers, that day will be my independence day.

Ok, I've been pretty serious all this while and I really doubt many people would have come so far, but if you have, I want to firstly thank you. I am practical, I do not expect this Utopian state in my lifetime. What can I do now to be independent? I hold my head up high. I love pink and Dragon Ball Z. I like Anchor stitch kits and Age of Empires. I like all sorts of things that do not stereotype me a feminist/tomboy/girly-girl. I want to get my license to drive first, I want to stop depending to an extent possible, I want to do so many things. On the bright side, ever since I've joined college, the birthplace of my first brush with freedom, I've been enjoying a different kind of freedom and responsibility which escalated to a new level on this blog. I really think and believe that online is where the next feminist movement will be, and for a change, not by men like Raja Rammohun Roy, but by ordinary average yet relatively empowered girls, my freedom fighters.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Casual Vacancy - Review

The newest J.K. Rowling book released on my birthday and some of my most awesome friends gifted it to meand I couldn't keep my nose out of it until the last page.

First things first, this book is big. It will take time. I started reading Harry Potter when I was 10 and a decade later, legally an adult, I personally cringed in horror in the beginning few pages. It was like a jolt, a Universe that decided to flip 180 degrees, I simply could not bring myself to believe that the same hand that wrought unspeakable volumes of child-like innocence could wield these words.

I ought to have been prepared for it obviously. So I decided I will wipe away my fond memories of Harry, who I think is the best example of a person, for the duration of "The Casual Vacancy". I forced myself to see this in a new light.

What I liked about the book was the brutal face of honesty. It explored complex issues from the eyes of the victim. Racism, child abuse, work stress, secrets, problems, politics, teenage abuse, online abuse, dyslexia, sibling rivalry, urban-rural divide, arranged marriage vs. love marriage, religious tolerance, the list is endless. It was a mini-UK in one. The complexities of the human mind and characters were poignantly drawn out. For the first time, the reader got a glimpse of the story through many characters as compared to simply following Harry.

Barry, a politician of note in a small town called Pagford, dies unexpectedly leaving the casual vacancy. The story revolves around the election and the people behind it. The racing narrative slowly unveils Pagford, scenic, yet steeped in mystery. Children play a significant role behind the scenes. Suddenly, this quaint town, which boasts of few mobile users, is attacked by SQL injections and the website is inundated with posts from "The Ghost of Barry" which reveal truths that Pagford society has swept under the carpet. Parminder Jawanda, the much-hyped Indian character has an underachieving child, Sukhvinder. The story of the mother's campaign is strongly interwined by Sukhvinder's desire to be loved openly by her mother and her inability to confide about the cyber-bullying she is subjected to. Krystal Weedon, a sixteen year old, is also an important child, brought up in questionable parentage, socially outcast, Barry gives her something to strive for, by putting her on the rowing crew. Krystal and Sukhvinder become fast friends on the crew. The other two children, Fats and Arf, I'll let the reader discover who they are.

One character I liked a lot was Kay. Kay is a new comer to Pagford who works against child abuse. She is in charge of the Weedons for a while, unsatisfied with how Terri Weedon is taking care of her son, Robbie, she threatens to take the child away. Krystal intervenes and a special bond is built. Kay is brought to Pagford by Gavin, who both refuses to commit or leave her, which he eventually does later on. In the end when he does try to come back, we see a stronger Kay, saying goodbye.

The end revolves around who wins, who is the ghost, what happens to Sukhvinder's dreams, to many other people I haven't mentioned simply because the plot is too complicated and I don't want to overwhelm this post.

When I read this book, I feel J K Rowling's signature style, that magic of words. I think her work at Amnesty International helped her to flesh out Kay. She makes us stare at the jarring face of reality head on. But the bottom-line is, as complex and myriad the narration was, as connected and cohesive the plot was, there was a casual vacancy in my heart, at the sadness in the story, an overdose of reality, the snatching away of a promise that all's well that ends well. It does end well, not that well, and that is how I felt.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Three Wise Men

A Canadian , a Britisher and an Indian were very worried at different points in time. All three of them were  deeply perturbed by their students' devout prayers for deadline extensions. Each of them, being brilliant, decided to teach their students important life lessons. So they put together a brilliant plan, which involved travelling in the fifth dimension, bringing the Britisher back saying "Mrithyor ma amritham gamaya", and decided that they will strike this nefarious generation born from 1990 - 1993, living in an unreal wold filled with 3D movies, playstations and Harry Potter. So, they wanted to teach life's lessons, they wanted to teach with a bang, they disapproved of the drool on the third-bencher fighting sleep, the glaze on the eyes of the first bencher daydreaming about the pristine presentation and the near-impossibility to discern the eyes of the last-bencher bent on squeezing that smiley into the last message; they wanted these artificially intelligent human beings to face brutal reality. The Canadian wanted to get down to the basics, to the very electrons that course through semiconductors, to delve into the mysteries of the motherboard, relish the advanced computer architecture, break down what was hitherto taken for granted, tear apart compilers, learn numerical methods to ease computations and then publish his research on the world wide web.

All the above was simply a relevant brain teaser between planning and execution for him of course. Meanwhile, the Indian and the ghost of the Britisher had already put the facts into order. All that was left to do was to use his god-like expertise in object oriented analysis and design to bring about a workable product to teach this generation, once and for all, that deadlines are for wimps.

So the Britisher wrote a law, the Canadian published it in his book and the Indian started a university that prescribed the book.

But of course, a book was a tame tool to teach reality, ups and downs. So the master-stroke was announced by the Indian.

Vice Chancellor of my University made students realise the beauty of Parkinson's Law mentioned by Craig Larman by shifting examination timetables.

Ah we are as blessed as Jesus, for instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh, they taught us about guilt, frustration and mirth.

Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog, you understand it better but the frog dies in the process. I have no clue what genre am writing, its a mix of satire, fantasy and hyperbole. So those links are the subject am supposed to be learning now but am put off by the ever evasion of the exam. Do see what the Parkinson's Law says, its humorous. And last of all, this is not a joke, its a fact ;-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nerd Talk

Points to be noted:

a) You shall wear glasses. Or contacts.

b) You shall answer every question asked in class.

c) You shall not respond to any phone calls, messages or any other distractions and hibernate into the dark recesses of your room.

d) You shall study.

e) You shall get good grades.

f) You shall not see T.V or go on Facebook.

g) You shall slog out and study but help your "friends" on minor tests.

h) You shall not ruin your reputation by appearing at a get-together.

i) You shall dress horribly.

j) You shall not exhibit any other skill.

k) You shall look down on "fun".

l) You shall not say lies.

m) You shall be a nerd.

Or you can be me and blog when you're bored and study hard otherwise. Best of both worlds. When Newton can have a Pseudo Force, Anna University can manage a Pseudo-Nerd me. And trust me, rather than being a nerd, pretending to be one is the key. While the world thinks I have a pen for a mind and an inkpot for a heart, I dream and smile belligerently at their deception.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The DAV experience

Many people are in awe of the fact that I am from DAV Girls, Gopalapuram. Before joining the school, even I had a lot of pre-conceived notions. They were the elite, untouchable and a thing of reverence and obviously, scorn.

The entrance examination is a routine picnic from our school. Every 10th grader wrote the exam. Every. Statistically two people would get selected and by some strange whim of fate, I was selected. (Believe me, I had no intention to!). Now, personally the idea of shifting schools was repugnant to me. I knew that the reason why I am the way I am, different yet the same was because of my school. How could I leave my home?

Then, most of my friends were also leaving and I was on the edge. To leave or not to leave? And then...

We had a meeting. All the selected candidates. Possibly my future class. It was just a routine class. The Principal was standing there and lecturing, interacting with the crowd. I was used to general awe with Principal, here they were chatting and answering. And I do not know what hit me, but in that class, I just felt this vibe, this energy, this total Dragon-Ball-Z-ball-of-fire just hit me. I felt the pulse of forty-odd girls sitting there, so powerful and special in their own way. I can't explain what I felt. I was already friends with four of them in IIT class. I just felt this class was special.

So I took the decision that changed my life. I decided to change schools and join DAV.

The first morning I was impressed that they actually welcomed the new students. The introductory Havan followed. Accursed are people like me who couldn't comprehend anything except 'idan na mama' and 'svaha'. I had a nice nap for fifteen minutes. Then, the new school prayer. Then, Javdev ji, an impressionable man who was famous for his "my beloved daughters" and his ability to command respect. Speaking of respect,  we said "Namaste" just like at my old school. Soon, I found the teachers as caring as the ones in my old school. Slowly, I found myself in a home away from home.

I still remember my first class. I was sent to get the books from the Art room. I had no clue where it was, but I think the teacher assumed I knew because I seemed very comfortable and seemed to belong there. I made friends with quite a few people already. And my Chemistry teacher suddenly asked me to define "Element". I think I told the answer, I remember being surprised being asked a question first thing in the morning.  In my old school, I was this shy person who never spoke until spoken to in front of new faces. I was already on the precipice of change.

And as Purnima Padmanabhan eloquently puts it, "We turned a sane person into an insane nut!"

I became far more extroverted. And I shocked everyone on Teacher's day, speaking in front of all those people with so much emotion and thanking them. Because, I saw the same sort of faces I respected in my old school.

And, inspired by this, I was put down for debate. Where I completely flopped, got stuck in the middle. I was like that. After the first cycle test, I was applauded for getting first in math and computer science and at the same time, so low in physics. I existed in extreme roles. I was a bundle of confusing and conflicting stuff, unsteady yet dependable. And I loved every minute of it.

And the teachers? Well, they were exactly like those I had in my old school, all caring and nice. Any student who has taken computer science will worship UT ma'am. She is THE best.  But what made DAV most memorable were not the marks or the teachers.

It was the 40-odd students in my class, each of whom I can proudly call my dear friend.

I've already mentioned I was a very shy person, I'm also, even today, very choosy about choosing my close friends. But over there, I felt I met 40 mirror images of me (enantiomers ;-) All dedicated, independent girls, girls the society can lean on, sound and trustable, as they say in Malory Towers.

One striking feature in this school was, a huge level of transparency. You could leave your stuff behind, however expensive, and you'll find it, even if you came to school after a week. And you'd get selected for your merit. No one thought twice before selecting me for shotput or for poetry or for march-past. It didn't matter I was a new student, everyone had selections, fair-and-square within school hours. Every Saturday two hours were for inter-house activities. I was in Shivaji house, and a more enthusiastic participant you couldn't have met (never mind I wasn't always successful, I distinctly remember injuring an innocent guy with a discus and tripping spectacularly over the high jump) No stereotypes existed. Zero. And we hated being called nerds. We just love to study yes, but that isn't the only thing we can do.

I had the roughest luck possible, I seriously missed a lot of fun with my class. Including the two trips. Still, truer friendships never existed.

Now, I can't see everything through rose-tinted glasses. There were a few downsides. It was an intense period. There were a few rainy days. If it were not for my friends, Rashmi Sampath and Purnima Padmanabhan and the encouragement of Nisha Chandramoorthy, I would have been completely miserable. And I returned the favour when they were down. I think in eleventh standard, all of us experienced all sorts of ups and downs but being together made it bearable. On a lighter side, I could never get used to all the noise, girls can talk! And we kept getting advice on topics I felt were completely unnecessary. But then, who likes advice?

Speaking of rain, I think the view outside our window was simply tranquil and beautiful. Especially downright ecstatic on rainy days. It was a forest-like square adjacent to our school. I still remember, Nisha nearly got her head stuck in the window looking at it! Lunch breaks were fun, unless Princi took it for chemistry class. I'd rant on and on about French Revolution, Shakespeare, Russian Revolution, Joan of Arc, Scarlet Pimpernel,  Zitkala Sa to my faithful audience of Saru Lakshmi, Anjana Easwar and at times, Hamsini Krishnakumar and Nisha Chandramoorthy. My best friend, Rashmi Sampath would mysteriously disappear at these jucntures, she couldn't stand my stories. And Saru and your Twinkle Head Twinkle Twinkle, honestly?!! Namratha Divakaran, I really pity you for being christened THTT, but you will always be our NON, which by the way, I think it stands for Nerdy Owl of Nanganalllur. Or was Megha from Nanganallur? Anyway, Megha Subramanium, who else but our class could christen you Pico after dear Sindhu Ma'am s  pronunciation. And christening names, God, Vardhnee was named Cassowari. She actually googled to find what it was and was annoyed to find that it was one of the weirdest birds in existence. Srinidhi and Vardhnee were quite the double act, you couldn't see one without the other. We became fast friends right from IIT class, sometimes having lunch with them in the huge circle in the corridor.  If I remember right, Alagu Alagappan, N Divya, A Nivetha, Raji Chandrasekaran, perhaps Preethi Rajasekaran? I forget the details. Of course, you could never see Preethi without Niveditha Raveendran, who by some strange sarcasm of God ended up going for physics tuition from the very person I ran away from my school and we had loads of fun laughing over that.  And how could I forget the two names that completely stuck - Bunny for Gayatri Viswanathan, probably the only sensible nickname, and Moonji for Vandhanaa (I forgot the origins :-P ). Varuna, did you have any nickname? You definitely were one of the most expressive people I've met. I remember all you guys so clearly, Pari the sports star, Pavi her best friend, Sushruthi Ramesh, the mostu helpful person when I fell ill (yes yes I know, quite a lot of times :-P ), and yes, finally I have to come to my own universal nickname, Dodo, after my bulbing efficacy by the shortest and youngest and the most fun Vidhya Abirami Iyer. Yes, I didn't have many friends from the bio section, but we did get on capitally. Who can forget our egg-head Surbhi Sharma? Sad, you had to leave in twelfth. We all missed you. Siddhi, I wrote the entrance with you, I don't know if you remember. Quiet Shriya Prasad, Induja Kannan and the diametrically opposite Jyotsna Rane. Jayavarshini Jothivel, Gayathri Ramachandran. Oh, and how can I miss you out? Shivani Patel the I-will-eat-Lays-everyday-and-not-on-put-a-gram-of-fat and Srijani Dutta, I can never forget your voice when you'd complain. And the stark opposite voice of Avi Singh. I was her first partner and she was like, am glad I came here, its so quiet and noise gives me migraines. If that's the case, then I think her old school should come with soundproof systems. And finally, our director Iffat Shakeel.

The farewell we gave, Tassavur was legend. The auditorium was an authentic scene from Arabian Nights. The lights, the food, the candles, it was so exquisite. The painstaking backdrop painting. Our class was absorbed in the "Alibaba and the Forty Wives", a play that involved a polygamist Ali Baba (Avi) , Alagu as a Powerpuff girl, Bunny and I don't remember the other one was - Shriya? , and Rapunzel as Iffat and Megha - Cindrella and a host of other characters. The dance for Mayya is still etched in my mind. I was part of mock awards - sync with shakespeare and monocotyledolls and what not? It was a beautiful day.

I also remember playing basketball. I learnt what Harry Potter has been telling me all the time, size is no guarantee of power, our star players being Pari and Alagu. And mind you its Alagu and Azhagu.

That Chemistry Project! I have extensively covered it here.

Yoga was another interesting thing. Whether you liked it or not, we had lots to discuss about (homework?!) . We were a really helpful class. I never felt any rough spots in the class. No egos or clashes. Every opportunity was discussed. Nowhere else could I say I don't like Tamil movies or cricket and get away with it. I remember Srinidhi brought Narnia for me to see when the three of us met.

All too soon, it was time for our farewell on 14 February 2009. I was ill, but I was determined to come and I did just in the nick of time. It was such a blur, the music, the food, the dance. I remember the few days preceding everyone looked so studious - filling out scrap books!

Quoting Charles Dickens, it was the best of times and the worst of times but it definitely is the most memorable of times. I miss you girls so much. Especially the ones who are in my college itself, we hardly ever meet :-/ Still, I wanted to finish this post on the third anniversary of our farewell, here it is finally.