Saturday, March 28, 2015


I Was truly inspired by Deepika Padukone's disclosure about how she emerged victorious from her Depression. A courageous and bold step. Not many can keep depression at bay. Not many survivors can speak about it openly.

Here I go. Emboldened by her spirit.

There is a swirl of  thoughts ( mostly negative ) about our present education system and my personal trauma.Math and I were a classic case of Strict inequality.

Even three  decades after passing middle school I still get up traumatised and terrified by dreams about exams. Particularly Math exam. The dreams, Nightmares  in which I go prepared for a Language paper, and it turns out to be Math exam that day, are the scariest.

That it was  only a dream is a feeling - nonpareil! Wouldn't trade that feeling for a googol of wealth.

Mathematics -my biggest fear then. And my biggest fear now.  Add to this the fear of water, heights, cooking, cleaning and all, which pale in intensity when compared to this monster that is called  Mathematics.

Having siblings who always scored 100% and stood first in all their  school and college exams, who passed out with Gold Medals, made things worse for me and mathematics.

I remember praying to all known Hindu deities to give me Fever or at least Madras Eye or a minor bloodless injury -  before Math exams. Anything, any  debilitating disease which would help me get away with the Math exam.

My prayers were not denied. Only delayed.Invariably they were answered on the last day of the exam.

Yes. I was a victim of Mathematics and our education system . ( do not miss the past tense and the  pun.). As a Survivor today, these are my thoughts.

Why are we forced to study something which has no practical application in real life? I do not  remember a single instance in real life where I even used the word Calculus except may be at the Dentists'. Forget about its application in a mere mortal's life.

That fire spitting monstrous Dragon - Calculus. It never became an Integral part of my school life and was the primary cause of my Differential achievements in school.I turned out just fine.

Why can't we leave it for   the passionate ones and those interested in research or higher studies which require that level of Math?

Why should a person who is passionate about Geography, Liberal Arts, Humanities be tested at the same level  as the one who wants to become an engineer, or do post graduation  in Maths?

Something is not alright with this system. Basic Math is a critical and  essential  life skill. No doubt about that. Say up to 8th grade.

After which, there should be various tiers or levels of Math offered to  suit the pupil's  interest ( read: love or hate ), future academic and career goals.

Pic.courtesy : Internet.

Jiddu Krishnamurthy's  thoughts and opinions on education have greatly influenced me. Profound, futuristic and nonconformist  to many .While there are a  few  schools run based on his philosophy, wonder why there aren't enough and many schools based on his school of thought.

The current trend  as I see ...

If it is music, the goal is to go onstage within a short span and never real  learning or  enjoying the learning process.
If it is sports, it is always the medals and never the sportsmanship.
If it is schooling it is always about grades and qualification  and never about education.
If it is about life, then success in monetary terms and the model of your car, your possessions  and never about Living.

My heart goes out to all those children having to go through this ordeal. A good case in point is the recently concluded 12th-grade exams by the CBSE board that  has left many children drained of their confidence. Apparently the question paper turned out very HOT with majority questions based on HOTS .( Higher Order Thinking Skills ).

Heard all the arguments for and against that paper which left many children in tears.

The happy ones were those  who were gearing  for higher studies in Engineering who  therefore trained for competitive exams outside school at specialised coaching factories.

Needless to say, it was  of a much higher standard than the CBSE 12th-grade curriculum.
Not a level playing ground.And again something very wrong with a pronounced incongruence in the level of teaching and the level of testing.

Those who had taken the Commerce, Accountancy with mathematics suffered the most along with those who had not aspired to become engineers and therefore had not done the extra courses of a much higher order.

Double jeopardy.

Do you get where I am coming from, friends? Why should a student who does not require a high standard of Math to pursue his further education go  through the same grind as a student aspiring to become  an Engineer or aiming for a  Ph.D. in Mathematics?

Not fair at all. It is not about the ability to cope that is the issue here. It is more about the interest, passion for  a subject.

I managed to come out with flying colours in all the milestone examinations, but the trauma I endured is beyond words.

Today after 'feeling' successful and happy from within doing what I do, I have no qualms saying " I am a survivor of Mathematics". And this revelation is very liberating as  I never let Math define me.
And, success as I define. Not what the society decides as a  norm.

This note is more of a rant, but your takeaway could be a positive message to know that there is a system error in our education and curriculum design and that no individual need feel inadequate.
Do not continue to be the Fish, which is made to climb the tree to prove its mettle.

Follow your dreams and passion. You will not only reach your destination unscathed, but would have enjoyed the journey too!

Yours arbitrarily,
"A survivor of Mathematics."

Corollary :

Have quite a few math genius friends. And I am in awe of them. Believe me when I say "I  am not a Math hater". Just wish I had a choice then.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Of Turmeric Threads and Tailor Trauma's ..

Karadaiyaan Nonbu (காரடையான்  நோன்பு )

உருகாத வெண்ணையும்  ஓர் அடையும் செய்து  நோன்பு  நூற்றேன் .
ஒரு  நாளும் என் கணவன் எனை  விட்டு பிரியா வரம் வேண்டும் .

Urugaatha vennayum oradaiyum seithu nonbu nootren
oru naalum en knavan enai vittu piriyaa varam vendum !

That is the transliteration of the prayer we say on this day every year praying for our life partner's health and longevity. Needless to say this is done by women praying for their husbands also called the Savithri viratham .

Legend has it that Savithri wife of Sathyavaan prayed, pleaded with Yama and got back his life . While at it,in the forest she made "mud cakes " and offered it to the gods  to reclaim her husbands'

Typically women make a dish called "adai" -( the jaggery variety almost looks like the mud cake that Savithi made ,according to my brats ) salt and sweet varieties and tie a sacred  thread ,dipped in turmeric around their neck on this day.

Little girls and young unmarried ladies also are drawn into these rituals. I still remember arguing as a child , about having to pray for the longevity of an unknown, non-existent person. We were  convinced by our grandmother that if we did this ritual,we would end up with a very good life partner - husband .

The adai's were tasty and were dished out with a dollop of butter , so it didn't seem like a bad idea at all .

So, we continued to pray for our future husband as little girls -trying to hide the yellow thread inside the Uniform collar . As young unmarried ladies, we continued to fall in line - taking off the thread once we step out of home and wearing it back when we entered  home .

Thankfully we were allowed to drop it off in a plant ( Tulasi , ofcourse !) after 3 days .

In retrospect ,so many years of praying ,however reluctantly, seems  to have paid off  with a DH who not only understands the point of view ,but  appreciates the fact that it is perfectly alright if a wife doesn't  fathom falling at another human's feet , even if it were the husband, the 'boon', that she got after years of praying and gorging the adais with butter while struggling to hide the yellow thread all the while .

So, as a married woman with renewed  faith in this ritual we continue to do what our elders did ..The adais , the prayers and passing on the same logic to our little girls .

Hmm.. If  only there was a similar prayer and ritual that can get us a good tailor and get over tailor trauma's. Sigh. 

Here is my prayer for that boon 

சரியான அளவும் , சிறிதும்  பேரம் பேசாது  கூலியும் கொடுப்பேன்..
ஆடைகளை கூட்டி  குறைக்காமல் ,  என் எடை கூடு முன் தைத்து  கொடுக்கும் தையல் காரர்  வாய்க்க வரம் வேண்டும் !

Transliterated here ..Sariyaana alavum , sirithum beram pesaathu kooliyum kodupen. kooti kuraikaamal aadaigalai ,en  yedai koodumun thaithu kodukkum thaiyal kaarar vaikka varam vendum "

Wondering , which god this must be addressed to and  what 'adai ' to be made .With Butter.