Sunday, 1 January 2017

Gyaan Giving: Students, Ingest With A Large Pinch Of Chaat Masala!

Gyaan: The quintessential Indian word for knowledge or, as in this case, advice.
Chaat: A sweet and sour and spicy street food encompassing many types. Being Indian, we prefer to make even our street food at home, more often than not! Chaat Masala is the spice powder that is liberally sprinkled over it all and all Indian children, at some point or the other, have swiped chaat masala from the kitchen, behind their mothers' backs, and blissfully licked it straight off their palms...I hope my students enjoy my 'gyaan' for them and find it as 'chatpata' as the stolen masala!
Chatpata: Adjective derived from the word chaat or was the noun derived from the adjective?
This poem is aimed specifically at my current 10th standard batch. I've taught them the nuances of the English language since the time I returned to India from Tanzania, when they were in 3rd grade and I had just inaugurated my Academy in Pune! (And most of them had been my mother's students since their kindergarten years...) So it's been close to eight years now and after I moved to Kenya, even the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean did not prevent them from signing up for my brain wave: Class on Skype, homework on WhatsApp! Their parents have always shown complete faith in me and my 'off the beaten track' attempts at inculcating a strong language and reading base in these children. For this, I will always remain truly grateful. Though I am actually qualified to teach University level students, I can honestly say I have enjoyed  teaching these wide eyed kids, who then became brusque teenagers, more than I ever enjoyed teaching my 'know it all' college students. Eight years is a long time and each one of these students and their mothers honestly feel like family...I am going to miss you all in class, both real and virtual!
As they inch closer to their final exams, the I.C.S.E at the end of their 10th grade, which in India, marks the end of school life and also brings them to a fork in the road where they have to choose between further studies in Humanities or Science or Commerce. This one exam, held for a gamut of subjects, will determine which college they get into and also which stream, if they haven't decided yet.
The current issues in India among students are the mobile phones glued to their hands, their desire to be constantly in touch with each other on social media and also gaming on line. The sudden explosion in Internet availability, speed and quality has left parents helpless and students completely distracted. So I suggest taking a complete sabbatical (if you don't know this word yet, please open the dictionary now!) from all electronic devices for the next two months, until the I.C.S.E (Indian Certificate Of Secondary Education) is over. I promise you, you will not regret it. I've written this poem for you all, to drive home my point further. Here's wishing you the best of luck and a great new year!
The first line is from Lewis Carroll's poem ' The Walrus And The Carpenter, which I studied for MY I.C.S.E ! If we had had Internet and I would have been on line at that time for a large part of my day, I doubt I would have even remembered that I had studied this poem, forget about still knowing a great many of the lines...

"The time has come," the Walrus said," To talk of many things."
Of going off FB, Instagram and SnapChat,
All those ways that may just curb your wings!
Let it not happen, that just six months down the line,
You wish you hadn't ignored your Mom's 'constant whine'.
For Standard 10, you are now in the 'home stretch',
I know giving up social media feels like a wretch.
It's SO easy to get distracted,
But in direct proportion, your marks WILL get contracted!
Research proves you cannot focus even when finally offline,
For the brain to resettle, it takes quite a bit of time.
If you don't believe me, go to Google and see,
But ONLY after your I.C.S.E!

It is only your education that will stand you in good stead,
On the rough and really rocky road ahead.
Friends, both girls and boys, right now will only your time waste,
So don't ignore your parents' words in a haste.
Friends are great at moral and verbal support,
But chatting with them now will only spoil that I.C.S.E report!
We all know that the Indian system is based completely on rote,
So in the next two months be sure to cram everything down your throat.
To higher, better education, this is your passport.
Like it or not, this is the foundation of your life's fort.

Right now you may think you have the worst mother on this earth,
And of friends adding fuel to this fire there is no dearth.
But when Mommy asks you to study,
And tells you not to waste time with your buddy,
Trust me, she really wants for you, the best,
Just for two months, ignore all the rest.
When you get your I.C.S.E report, there should be no regret,
By then, it really will be too late to fret.
So take the bull firmly by the horns now,
And don't, before the internet or television, bow.
When you are studying, your phone should be really far,
Do you really want it to your future mar?

Your parents will stand by you till the end of their lives,
So, why against them, right now, sharpen your knives?
We aren't in the U.S where students get scholarships or, by themselves, hefty loans take,
In India, your parents began education savings before you cut your first birthday cake!
They are the ones paying for your expensive education,
As well as your fun filled, post I.C.S.E vacation...
You are not adults yet, so it's not too much to ask you to your online passwords with them share,
It is only because they are the ones that REALLY care....
Also remember you will ALWAYS have your parents' unconditional love and support,
No matter how TERRIBLE your I.C.S.E report.
All the more reason to just give it your best shot,
So eventually you will be happy with the marks you got!
To God you can safely leave the rest,
Once you have done your very, very best!

And one day, when YOUR kids tell you to 'Just Chill',
After you've repeatedly told them not to on line time kill,
You will thank God and your parents for an education that pays the hefty Internet bill!


  1. Both my daughters sometimes suddenly think of this poem and just start humming! Anupama u have used it to so well. Believe me ,the poet would have congratulated you had he been alive ! We still have your poetry book which has this poem. I must read it first thing in the morning!

  2. Very sane advice to your students Anupama. Hope they pay heed to it and thus do you proud. The poem reminded me of my childhood when we had records to listen to. Have heard this song by Danny Kaye n number of times. Lovely poem as usual.

    1. Thank you so much M Mami! You remain an inspiration as always.

  3. Hello ma'am. Feels refreshing just to read up on your brilliantly exceptional and wondrous vocabulary. Thanks a ton for the inspiration. Lovely poem made even lovelier! I will remember those afternoon lessons which have made me into the student that I currently am. Really wish to see you!
    Love and Regards.
    Sohum Gosavi.

    1. Thank you so much Sohum for your kind words and for taking the time to write. Best wishes for the I.C.S.E and we will meet in June for sure!


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