Friday, August 29, 2008

Radio Gaga

Dark rainy day. Took the day off because the kids were supposed to have a blood donation drive at work. I've donated blood thrice before and I'd have done it again but braving slush and mud and hours of being trapped in traffic to give a pint of blood just didn't figure on the agenda today.

When I was growing up, the radio was my best friend. No TVs, computors, cellphones, digicams, ipods and other fancy schmancy gizmos then. The radio was the one source I had of keeping up with the world outside my little world. Dad had just died and Mum was working hard to support her four daughters. The local school we now attended was hugely different from MH and since we'd all jumped two classes, schoolwork was a major headache. Specially the maths. Add to that, growing up pains and adolescent angst.

Shortwave radio was a magical escape from everyday hassles. Every evening after dinner, my sister and I would sit down to homework with the radio tuned to the Ivan and Eric Show on the SLBC. Their light banter sandwiched between music requests and top forty hits had us all agog. Later we discovered Radio Australia, VOA and the good old BBC. I grew particularly attached to the Beeb, never missing the pop music shows especially A Jolly Good Show with the irrepressible Noel Edmonds. Then I discovered Matthew on Music fronted by Brian Matthew who I thought had the most divinely deep voice. Matthew played mostly hard heavy rock (most of it what's known as classic rock today) and left a deep and lasting influence on me. Then there was Glenys Dickson who cheerily hosted Countdown on Radio Australia. There was also this obscure radio station called Super Rock KYOI my sister and I loved but couldn't understand because the dialogue was all in Japanese but they played the most terrific collection of rock classics we ever heard. Years later, after my sister married, she said she was once recollecting those old days with her husband and it turned out he and a friend of his were regular listeners to Super Rock KYOI too and had always thought they were the only ones around to know about it.

Just recently, we've been having FM radio via the local friendly neighbourhood AIR Aizawl, and I've been realising anew what fun radio is. It doesn't demand your complete attention like TV does and you can play it in the background while you do other things. Also I've been discovering that many bands who I cannot stand to watch are actually very listenable. Among them, the late Kurt Cobain and Nickleback. At least, without the distraction of their videos I can now appreciate why they've had had such success. What disappoints me though are the young radio jockeys. I don't know why they feel like they have to put on that very fake, exuberant sounding talk style, and some of the accents are so obviously put on, they make you cringe. Also their knowledge of the music they work with is so abysmally low it's very off putting. Quite clearly, these kids are products of a generation that grew up completely unaware of the joys of radio.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Those schoolgirl days...

Time flies so quickly. Even the Internet which came into my life just a couple of years, or so it seems like, is already strewn with people I've come across and messages and posts I'd put up already half-forgotten and relegated to the back of the cyber cupboard. Some of the people have become very real friends and we have get-togethers on a regular basis despite busy lives and and hectic schedules, one or two so-called friends turned out to be freeloaders, and many have been like the proverbial ships in the night - here today, gone tomorrow, out of sight, out of mind.

The net is such a huge place it's hard to keep track of every place I've been to and left a piece of myself. One of these I recently rediscovered is my old school reunion site. I was at Mount Hermon for just a year and a couple of months but despite my all too brief stay there, it remains one of my brightest memories. Located in beautiful Darjeeling with the Himalayas clearly visible across the distance, it wasn't some over-posh school filled with snooty brats of rich parents as we'd feared at first. In fact, I never really ever knew how upscale anyone's family was because it was such a happy friendly place. Like when you came across members of the staff, academic or otherwise, it was always a casual Hello Mr Jones! Hello Mrs Gardner! That, in the 70s when things in India were still strictly starchily Brit, is a fair indication of the informal atmosphere of the school. And the GHD (Going Home Day) songs in the school hymn book that we'd start singing around the end of the year...

Also it being a co-ed school, there were a great many pairing-ups, and often after the seniors (classes 7 to 12-ers) finished dinner, we Junior schoolers would watch happily as these couples would go off in pairs in the quadrangle downstairs. A favourite hangout for these post-dinner, pre-study hour romantic dates was a long fence around the main schoolyard and couples would hang around there which prompted one staff member to coin the term "fencing." If a boy and a girl were seen "fencing", they were acknowledged by everyone to be an item. Obviously, it was a school ahead of its time but my two sisters and I had to leave suddenly because my father became seriously sick and we joined local schools. I continued for a while to keep in touch with old friends but inevitably lost touch with all but one who kept me posted with updates on everything and everyone.

Then around 5 years ago, I came across this site which wasn't strictly an official school site but was run by an oldtimer who'd brought in lots of oldtimers. None of those Facebook/ Orkut old school communities type where you see only the very young and feel completely out of it all. There were many I didn't know, naturally but there were a few I actually remembered. I found that the best way of breaking the ice and getting people to share old memories was in getting them to talk of things like bunking, past escapades and crushes. I made a post on old school crushes which evoked so many memories in the most fun way possible and many decade-old secrets were confessed to and made public for the first time ever! Among them, we found out that Lochan, one of the regulars and most gentlemanly people I've ever had the pleasure to know anywhere, had been the unknowing target of a crush by the prettiest girl in school. Apparently, they were good friends but she'd a boyfriend then and used the runaround method of loading his younger brother with all sorts of eats. He never realised it was all thanks to his brother and never told him about it either until the girl's best friend spilled the secret almost 30 years later and the younger brother finally connected the dots! I had such a hilarious time the other day re-reading all the recollections. I'm ashamed to confess though that I've since lost touch with those renewed acquaintances too. Keeping in touch is so hard...

Yellowed and mildewed - me and sisters

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


"What a swimming! What a butterflying! Michael Phelps is coming number 1!!"
- Doordarshan sports commentator

Sms a friend sent me yesterday :D

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Senior Moments

Just home from Sunday School where I realised I'd made a major boo boo last week. I'd been supposed to teach lesson #27 on Salvation but somehow got things mixed up and taught lesson #26 which was also on salvation but slightly differently stressed on Man in need of salvation. When I told my colleagues about it, they said they hadn't noticed but I'm mortified. I've never done anything like this before and for such an important lesson. Argh, my brains are screwed!

A similar thing happened to a woman I was buying vegetables from yesterday. It had been raining heavily and everything was wet and slushy and humid. She's a nice woman and one of my favourite veggie sellers so I bought a half kilo of tomatoes and set down 25 bucks in front of her. Then I picked up something else for 10 bucks which I added to the pile. Then I picked up something else again for 5 bucks and finding I didn't have a fiver to give her, took out a 50 note and took back the 35 bucks I'd laid out.

That's when it hit her. She looked at me blankly and went, "Uhhhh." "It's supposed to be 40 in all so you can give me back 10 rupees," I told her. She went, "Uh, what all did you buy?" I said, "Tomatoes = 25, hmarcha = 10, bekang = 5." She said confusedly, "But you took back the 35." "Yes, so now I'm giving you 50 and you're supposed to give me back 10." She mumbled, "But I'll be losing out if you take away the 35..."

Yarghhhh. I was starting to feel hot under the collar. Nothing I said could blow away the cobwebs in her mind. Luckily, a couple I know well came along looking at her vegetables and broke the impasse. We both explained to the wife our little tango and she told the veg woman it was alright, I'd bought 40 bucks worth of goods and given her 50 so she now had to return me a tenner. Which she did and we parted ways. Finally.

I've often been in that kind of can't work out figures and logic for nuts in my mind mental confusion so she has my sympathies entirely. With me, it usually happens that when I've been away travelling somewhere and getting back to basics at home I get disoriented completely and totally. I can't remember the littlest detail, and figures throw me for a loop as intricate as a figure skating triple axel followed by a double salchow. It's probably because I'm just too physically tired and not rested well enough and my mind shuts down from too much information too suddenly. I'm guessing the woman yesterday too was probably suffering from lack of sufficient sleep and rest since veg dealers get up crazily early on market days.

Ah life.