TV Interview

9:45. Yesterday.

Long back from school, having learnt of the terrorist acts that were tearing Mumbai apart, I sat in sullen silence watching the news with my father.
School had been a languid affair that day, with an air despondency and glumness hanging in the classrooms.

A harried image of Barkha Dutt (the news reporter) appeared on the screen. By what she told the viewers, she had been out in front of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel the entire day. Presently, she was with the husband of a woman who was trapped inside the hotel, a man named Shantanu Saikia. The husband needed some news of his wife and the reporter required a heart breaking story. A win-win situation(?) even in these hard times. The ensuing dialogue went like this-

BD: And now I have with me a relative of someone who has been inside that hotel since yesterday night. Shantanu your wife Sabina is trapped inside, isn't she?

SS: Yes Barkha, she had gone for a wedding function, and then the terrorists..came.

BD: So Shantanu, tell me how have you been dealing with this situation, how did you get to know about it?

SS: I got to know about it when I was just coming back from work and as soon as I realised my wife was inside the Taj, I rushed here as fast as I could.

BD: Did you get a chance to speak to her after the incident took place?

SS: The last time I talked to her was at 9pm last night. Then she kept messaging me from under her bed, and the last message I got from her was at 2am early this morning. (probably early this morning felt a little more reassuring to himself than late last night, I thought)

BD: Oh.(she immediately looked downcast) Is your family here with you right now?

SS: No, it's just me. My children are at home. Me and Sabina have two very small children, my son who's 11 years old and my 14 year old daughter. Sabina used to dote on them very much...

BD: Please don't say used will all be okay. (she was almost pleading)

SS: I hope, I hope, I will never lose hope. The last message I got from her was that the terrorists were in her bathroom.

BD: Oh dear.

SS: Yes. (He adjusted his glasses) And..And now today there has been a large explosion in that area. (his voice trailed off)

BD: It will all be alright, Shantanu.

SS: No, I won't lose hope. I can't.

That left me stunned. Sabina's husband was a strong man. And now his family had been (supposedly) shattered.

I sat up at night, unable to help, unable to sleep.
I wish I had cried. Maybe then this would've been out of my mind.
In my last post, G was not made in reference to my Grandmother, as some people have tried to guess. Nor does it stand for Guru. It's a name, actually. And a very good one too.

Me and, well *sigh*, the bee - 2


Today was the final of the American Center - Times Foundation spelling bee.

Didn't go as well as I planned, actually.

Day began at 5:30. Woke up sleepily to see off mom and grandma who were leaving for the airport to catch a plane to go to Bangalore. Mom wished me luck for today and for the gazillionth time, apologized profusely for not being able to came and see me at the bee. I was a little relieved inside really, since I didn't want to let anyone down if I did badly there (that's one thing about me - always cynical. Have to take G's suggestion. Maybe my next post will be about G and G's wonderful message).

Fast forward to the time when me and Manu Kohli ma'am were getting ready to get to the American Center from school (I try not to bore you with details).

8:40. Both of us sitting in the transport incharge's office. Being informed that there's no transport available. Manu ma'am being given money for conveyance. Being told that the metro was our best option. It's then that I realised how the internal matters of the school were controlled and regulated; how people engineered the situation to their benefit (Now, I really can't explain anything).

We chose the best and quickest option before us, the Delhi metro. Were driven to the nearest station, Dwarka sec-12 (don't know how ma'am managed that) and after taking two tokens for Barakhamba, we got into a slightly crowded metro. And it just kept on getting more and more crowded after that for 23 stations, if I'm not wrong. I didn't mind the standing, but what peeved me was that there wasn't enough space for me to practice some more with the book held in hand. Finally after about 40 minutes of travel, we disembarked and without much event, managed to get to the American Center (remember not centre) at about 9:50.

Quickly, I got my thing-with-the-number-on-it-which-I-needed-to-put-round-my-neck and well, put it round my neck. No.10 (I was actually glad to get a nice round even number, don't know why). What followed was a very plastic interview by NDTV metronation at the Center library. The interviewer ((who I think believed he looked cool with a silver piercing on his eyebrow) told us to pretend to look around, looking at books, completely unaware of the over-sized camera. The very idea of getting us up there was to have the interview. The pierced-eyebrow guy asked me a few questions, which I answered absentmindedly.
Also, I met Amanullah (refer to comments of MATB), a nice taciturn fellow.

A few introductions, a phone interview with Samir Mishra (last years winner of the Scripp's spelling bee) and rules for the days competition followed. The rules in condensed form would sound a lot like - Get a word wrong and you're outta here.. I started gulping gallons of my own saliva.

I don't exactly remember what followed or the sequence of events, the only thing I can recall next is me up on the stage being asked the two preliminary words by Maroof Raza.

N-E-O-P-R-E-N-E. Neoprene. 'Correct'.

F-A-S-T-I-D-I-O-U-S. Fastidious. 'Correct'.

I'd get 'em right! I went and sat down onto my seat noting the encouraging smiles of Manu ma'am and my dad, who had just then come from office. Saw Amanullah tripping on a word, which I think was because it wasn't pronounced right.
After a teeny juice break, I found out I was to be in the final round. I noted with slight discomfort that this round was going to be recorded for television broadcast.
The first word now - T-E-M-P-E-S-T-U-O-U-S. Tempestuous. 'Correct'.
My second word - 'Venireman'. 'Huh?'. 'Could I get that again?' 'VENIREMAN'.

I paused. This didn't sound familiar. I got nervous.
'Umm - V-E-N-I-R-A-M-E-N' .... 'I'm sorry' Maroof Raza said. He certainly didn't look it. I was out.

A Sprigdales girl went on to win the competition, and quite deservedly too. Amanullah comforted me and said that the word was tough and took down two more people after me. 'There's always next year'. I noted the disappointment on his face when I told him that the bee was for students of classes IX and XI only. 'Unless we fail.' I added, to lighten the convo.

Photo by dad, me fiddling with mic

Venireman : A person summoned to jury duty under a venire facias. I don't think I'll ever forget that word. Ever.

A lunch sorta thing followed which saw a girl from Loreto Convent flying past me saying 'Nice blog' (If you read this, say hi).
I ate half my pastry, but it seemed tasteless, wax-like and all too creamy that I chucked it in the bin.

I wasn't a sore loser, I could have blamed Raza for his slight mispronunciation, I could have blamed the camera, I could have blamed the abruptness, the lights. But I knew I should have kept my wits about me. Asked the definition. Waited. Pondered. And then said. Instead I acted like an arse.

I felt dejected, I cannot deny that. I'm someone who's been in love with language my entire life - It's my thing. And I screwed this up. My dad had missed an important meeting to be there. Manu ma'am had probably expected me to do better.

It was time to leave. As I ascended the stairs, the campaign photos of the US presidential election candidates greeted me. It wasn't Obama who I was looking at, but the smiling face of senator John McCain.

We probably belonged to the same class, McCain and me. I think I then knew how McCain had felt while giving his speech after the results were out.

I breathed easy after that. Schadenfreude? I couldn't care.

Quid agis

15 million people are on the net.

300 million are watching TV.

22 million are brushing their hair.

4 million people are kissing or being kissed.

15 million people are drinking coke.

3.2 billion people are sleeping.

6 million are being taught in a classroom.

1.4 million people are sending a text message.

5 people are in space.

350,000 are playing football.

38 million are driving or riding in a car.

120 million people are using the bathroom.

380 million are daydreaming.

And what were you doing before you turned to the computer ?

PS - I was eating a samosa.

On music

There are two means of refuge from the misery of life—music and cats.

I think it was Albert Schweitzer who gave that quote, and it spoke to me the first time I read it in some magazine. I was not sure about cats when I read it, but I could vouch for the music part without hesitating. Cats were ok,cuddly looking but having rather selfish gleams to their eyes, not exuding the kind of infectious friendliness that dogs generally do. A week later, I discovered lolcats.

The next day, I began exploring the works of the great Albert Schweitzer.

His views on philosophy and anti colonialism are revolution for his day and his "Problem of Peace" lecture was absolutely genius.

But enough about that. I'm straying away from the main point, which is of course about the immense revitalizing potential of all kinds of music.
Honestly, I think you don't need me to tell you that. It's quite obvious actually. You've just had a bit of a tiff with someone, you recline down onto an easy chair and turn up the volume to some music from your mp3 player/computer/car radio. In a few minutes, the head-shaking and foot-tapping takes over, the initial sting is no longer felt.

I believe there are different songs for different moods. Not only that, it's that you can experience a specific kind of music in the best way possible only in a specific kind of mood. Spirits need not be elevated or exultant, it can be pensive or even depressed (anger I think does not work with music - rebellion yes, but not rage. It clouds the senses). In other moods it feels different, not having the same perfect (or rather desired) effect on you. You'll might agree that it's rather simple and straightforward if you think about it.

Personally, since I am blessed with erratic and unseasonable mood swings, I feel I can enjoy most kinds of music.
There's one quirky little hindi song that's come out recently. Its not just the song that's great, its that it's a visual treat :

There's another very good song, with the genre being "sufi-ish" this time. It's a beautiful song, a stunning interpretation of overwhelming infatuation, sung by Roop Kumar Rathod, one of the best singers in India, i think. It gives me a transient surge of a feeling somewhat like being madly in love. That makes me want to listen to it over and over again.

One other great song which I've become quite fond of recently is 'You raise me up' by Josh Groban, a cover of the original song of the same name by Secret Garden. Incidentally, though not surprisingly, the song has over 125 covers, thanks mainly to its timeless lyrics. It's very inspirational and emphasises on the value of human, its got the lyrics too :

Here are a few more variations of this same song, the first performed on a musical saw. It is worth your while, really awesome.

This second is a Spanish opera version by Paul Potts, the winner of the first 'Britain's got Talent', called 'Por ti Sere'. Catchy.

Well, I'll end with a book suggestion, "This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession" by Daniel Levitin. I must confess, that I haven't read it myself even though I had it issued for three weeks from the library (I wish I had, now). My bro read some of it, and I think his recommendation would suffice to make it a good read.

Well, see ya.

Me and the bee

Ok, that's an annoying title which does not really make for a good wordplay. We move on, then.

Today was the preliminary round for the American Center & Times foundation Spelling Bee held at DPS Mathura Road. The morning started out rather slow, as I reached school I was informed that the reporting time at DPSMR was 11 am. The news left me quite relieved, for we could get going from Dwarka and get to Mathura Road at a slow pace, and still be a little early.
Kriti and I sat in the library getting tested and taught a few stuff by the teacher accompanying us, Ms Manu Kohli. We ended our discussions and the end of which, thanks to the way in which Americans had ruthlessly contorted the Queen's English, I felt a little punch drunk and slightly unprepared, for we had been taught British English all our lives.

We set off in a small Omni, at about 9:10. About fifteen minutes into our journey, someone in a passing car told us that we had a puncture on one of the tires. The van lackadaisically stopped at the side of the Dwarka flyover. The school somehow could not send another vehicle, so our driver, rather foolhardily really, set out to change the flat tire with spare one in the boot. His body faced the oncoming office traffic and I actually believe that he got kicked once or twice by passing motorcyclists (which were followed by angry abuses hurled by the understandably miffed driver-cum-repairman). The three of us stood on the flyover, worrying whether we'd reach on time. It was a nice place to get stranded on, actually, we were compensated with a nice bird's eye view. Manu ma'am told us that she was assuaged by the fact that the broken down van didn't have the words "DPS DWARKA" on its side, just as the ten minute procedure ended.

We were fortunately not late when we reached DPSMR at 10:50. DPSMR had a certain "old-school" charm with respect to its architecture and layout. Anyway, me and Kriti sat ourselves down on vacant seats in the hall after completing the usual registration procedures. The Director of the American, Anne Sheshadri, council was visibly pleased as she addressed the gathering, which she pointed out was because of the American presidential election results.
After a few more introductions, the main competition started quickly enough as me and Kriti 'good-luck-ed' each other. There were twenty words in all, being spoken out by a heavyset man who went by the name of Maroof Raza. I managed to write all of them down, hazarding guesses and being sure at times. I handed over my sheet with a few misgivings.

Refreshment Break. Didn't feel hungry.

Screening of a small part of the film 'Akeelah and the Bee'

All of us waited as the papers were being checked and the lucky 30 were being winnowed out.

The results were about to be announced. 'some-kid's-name' the Director bellowed. 'Some-other's'. 'Fat-girl-with-glasses-on'. 'Completely-surprised-skinny-kid'. 'Snobbish-girl-with red hair'. Nope, not me... Yet (I liked to think in those unkind moments). 'Unmistakably-nervous-kid'. Namely me.

There was an audible 'Oh-Congrats!' from Kriti as I hobbled to the front were the rest of them were standing. It was an unusual feeling. Unusual meaning not usual. it felt all weird really as I stood there waiting for the list to get over, half-expecting, half-hoping kriti's name to be called out any moment. It wasn't. Probably that is what added to the "unusualness". I loosely shook Anne Sheshadri's hand. There was a closing address with an announcement that the finals would be held at the American Center on the 20th of the month, which would be, as spelling bees usually are, an oral round.

I looked at Kriti as the crowd dispersed. 'I'm surprised', I said.
The teacher smilingly asked me how I was feeling, after the customary 'congrats'. 'I don't know. Unusual', I said truthfully. I didn't say much to Kriti as we were beginning to leave. I felt if I tried to say comforting things to her, in typical 'me' style, it would be misunderstood as mocking or condescending. I stayed quite, feeling rather proud inside but not showing it.

We got in and ma'am pointed out that I was one of the only boys who had qualified. Another thing that I was too dazed to observe myself was that I was the only guy from any of the DPSs. 'Saving Grace', she laughed. That left me really pleased with myself.

The van rode the way back and I asked to be dropped at the Vasant Enclave market, so I could walk home from there.

Well here are some of the words that I spelled incorrectly (followed by what I wrote) - aggrandizement(agrandisement), segue (seggui), maneuver (manoeuvre - darned american english). Must take care next time.

Came home and saw Johnny Gaddar.

Looking forward to November

I can't say why but November seems so full of promise. I don't really know the exact reason but it might be probably because the new month will be quite eventful, if not interesting.

A lot of things have already found their way onto my list of stuff to look out for; including the American Center - DPS Mathura Rd spelling bee, Mom and Dad's marriage anniversary, a friend's birthday, a cousin's birthday, my physics retest (due to absence, duh), some movie releases like Quantum of solace and Dasvidaniya, the first 'hands-on' Junior Doctor's club class and of course the annual fĂȘte.

I promised myself just 15 minutes off as break between doing my Psychology project and off they go right now.

Strangely somewhat, after a week of holiday, I can't wait to go to school tomorrow. It just isn't me. Must be the lethargy.