Chapter 09.04 - School Life Is Long

You bet! School Life Is Long. Totally - especially when you are in an “all girls” school.

And that, my dear readers, would justify my spending the next few chapters talking you through it in what may seem like a “phased” approach. C’mon now, don’t give up on me (yet - please), you are doing great. Clearly, I spent more than a decade of my life schooling (although it seemed like forever at that time, for apparent reasons). Please allow me a few chapters to talk about it? So, are we good? (Uh-huh, that is how Sandra Bullock puts forward “The Proposal”). Awesome! Thanks!

If nothing else, this autobiography is going to make all mouse potatoes (including, Yours Truly) extremely patient. Not that it is designed to test one’s patience; it’s just my idea of taking things slow!

We had a really cool school anthem. Here goes,

School life is long, the end seems so far,

but ambitions are hitched to a star.

As we grow and we learn, we shall ever remember,

Virtue Alone Ennobles.

Work and prayer, our chosen way of life,

Hope and peace, to gladden every day,

Confidence and courage, in every form of strive,

Faith and love, to conquer all the way.

School life is a rock, on which we shall build,

with a spirit of God to be filled.

As we grow in our minds, may this truth be instilled,

Virtue Alone Ennobles.

Phew! I think that makes perfect sense (now that I look up the words in the dictionary).

As all you splendid “webheads”, may have deduced from the previous chapter, despite belonging to a middle-income household, your “Dares To Dream” was sent to the best school in her town by her “parental units”. It was THE BEST and THE ONLY convent school (in it’s true sense), atleast in those days.

(Still) situated at Idgah Hills, it is administered by the “sisters” (as in, the Catholic nuns). And they belived in seeking God’s blessings before the start and after the closure of a day, every single day. Customarily, we had prayer services, often followed by visits to the school chapel (in the premises).

“Dares To Dream” studied (in this very convent), right from pre-kindergarten through senior high school (aka, 12th Grade) for that’s as much as this school had provision for. By all means, I did my preschool from somewhere I don’t quite remember so well (alas! Unmistakable signs of aging).

A few Bollywood celebrities (Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, for one) are said to have undergone schooling from this prestigious place. One model-turned-actress, Malvika Tiwari, also is said to have spent some time here (when obviously, she wasn’t a fashion model nor was she turning into a Bollywood actress). However, I am not so cocksure of her; for all you know, it could be a marketing gimmick on the school’s part - this name dropping thing!

It’s Official:

Curious as to why a convent may need a promotional campaign and why is all this “convent” education stuff a big deal? For one, to attract the majority of the non-catholic population, that accounted for the majority of the student population in this school (some awfully liberal parents that - not to mention, together with Yours Truly’s)!

And second of all, remember we spoke about the “hunt” - the PERFECT (ahem) match finding business, in the previous chapter? The somewhat uproariously rummy affair (if you didn’t conclude that thus far i.e.)? Again, please - no offense to the supporters of this medium for alliance. With all due respect, it’s my own thought process towards the various norms that is exceedingly amusing (if anything, I think), not the norm in itself. Remember, I grew up in this “trap” (this society, I mean) so please DGMWIYCGMR. Huh? Don’t get me wrong, if you can’t get me right!

Here’s how this “match finding business” relates with the so called decorous “convent” background…Generally speaking, people (where I come from) rely on matrimonial advertisements as a reliable source for looking up a soul mate for their beloved son and/or daughter. It’s more like a “Soul Mate Search Engine” (as in the Google Search Engine). What do these ads read like? Apparently, the matrimonial ads seeking a match for a man, in this “chauvinistic” society run something on these (tremendously funny) lines…

“…Bride required (or better still “Girl” required and never “Woman” required - if you know what I am alluding to). Convent educated, decent, tall, beautiful, height - so & so, complexion - fair, religion - xyz, caste - who knows what, age - less than so & so” and basically the rest of her specifications with a “all-inclusive” list of “requirements” as in must-have’s (and not, “desirables” as in nice-to have’s) from a girl in order for her to be considered a PERFECT match for that groom in question…

The ad further elaborates, “…for a groom with residency status - NRI”. Like we talked in the chapter before, the non-residents come with a hefty price tag.

The not-so-funny part? None of the matrimonial ads seeking matches for girls go that way. It still reads like an advertisement of a girl and of all that she is capable of bringing to the table. “Any takers?”, type thing.

I voiced my opinion to dad, when he was planning to pull together a matrimonial ad for sis, saying, we too should provide an exhaustive list of what we are looking for, in the “prospective” groom. To which indubitably, he scoffed and returned to business as usual.

I however, maintained my own checklist, sort of, it was more of a laundry list of things I want in my man (for him to be considered a suitable match). Inescapably, there was yet another (list), enumerating things I’d want from him (once he was condemned to me for life) - and I did succeed in finding myself someone who has it all… plainly, eventually. You will learn all about him much later though, we have numerous frogs to talk about before we talk about my prince! (Only to justify how “you have to kiss many frogs before you find your prince”)!

Long story short, being “convent” educated, adds some value, I guess, to the prospective ”buyer”, not that a girl’s parents would be in a position to bargain the market price! It’s more like (from the point of view of the boy’s parents), “yes, we’d be interested in doing “business” with you for your daughter is convent educated”. Now, what are they going to do with that, surpasses me - they would nevertheless, have her sit at home, cook food and run chores, for the entire family. I don’t see the “convent education” getting much utilized in any of that.

Plausibly, it is imperative, that a convent would "promote" itself, given the nature of the rituals (or must I say, given the volatile-groom-shopping-market).

One of my 10th grade companions, once said, these are 2 different things the bride seekers are aspiring for (through the matrimonial ads) - “convent educated” and “'Well-disposed” or “decent”. Denoting, whatever gave you the impression that a convent educated would be well disposed or decent?! Ha! Unequivocally, you know what (or who, rather) I am talking about (by now, at least)!

The Grueling Admission Process:

For admission to Pre-kindergarten (to this most esteemed scholarly world), I was asked during the interview process to draw ahem…an elephant. At that time I might have been 3 (or 4 can’t remember exactly). Mom tells me, I innocently admitted, I didn’t know how to, which proved to be a killer (my innocence i.e.) and they admitted me in. My take on this? The sisters on the interview panel probably thought, “Ha! We’ll show you! Where else will you go anyway.” or something on those lines.

It’s another thing that they could never teach me to draw an elephant as a result of which, I still can’t draw one... BTW, we talk a lot about me. Maybe you should start talking too - for sure, you started talking when you were, whatever age a kid is supposed to start talking. What I am trying to say here is, maybe, you should start talking to me. Let’s make a spiffy opening. Do you know how to draw an elephant? Huh? Enlighten me. Please?


I thought it might be interesting to touch upon how the length of school life can be impacted by the number of friends one has (or does not have, for that matter). Your “Dares To Dream”’s school life was not only long (because of the lack of the opposite species around) it was also boring because she had ZERO friends - still does. It’s not rocket science, as to why she has ZERO friends, it’s just the kind of person she is, which is also why this would not catch, those who know your “Dares To Dream”, off guard. However, let this intrigue you a little for now and we will explore the intricacies of the matter, in the next chapter, “Count Your Age”.

Once upon a time (during my school days), I was bashful (ahem). Hang on, that must make you question how I could have then claimed to be the audacious most in the previous chapters? In plain sight, it’s situational, and if you just please stick with me, you will know exactly what. In fact, you would have known me inside out by the end of it. Sounds lucrative enough? Please do stay. It’s going to be a fun ride - you have my word for it. Is that like having one word too many? In all likelihood, it would make more sense for me to say, “You have my (infinite) word(s) for it”!

And yes, please do not mistake (my) being bashful, with (my) being an “introvert”. I am not. This fascinating revelation was made to me by none other than a buddy from my Masters (in Computer Science). He used to refer to himself as the “Friendly Neighborhood Sandy-Man”, (and you thought I was eccentric?) per him, girls were hot for the Friendly Neighborhood “Spider-Man”. Surprisingly, it never dawned on him that it was so because beneath that “spidery” costume was Tobey Maguire! I too, thought it best not to disillusion him. For our narrative hence, let’s refer to him as such - the “Friendly Neighborhood Sandy-Man” (to make him feel all warm and fuzzy).

You might think, that the “Friendly Neighborhood Sandy-Man” was being eccentric, because he was in my company (as opposed to being, “In Good Company”) and that is the effect I have on people? Affirmative! I bring out the best (eccentricities) in them.

Quite naturally, the “mortal”, spidery man or the “Pirate(s) of the Caribbean” (Johnny Depp) were more of a Generation X thing. The Generation Y (or the MTV Generation) has smartly moved on to the “immortal” vegetarian vampire (Robert Pattinson) and the carnivorous werewolf (Taylor Lautner) from the “Twilight” series. Wonder what the Generation Z or the Generation Next or the Internet Generation (or what I refer to them as - the FACEBOOK generation) would be like!

Come to think of it, who needs “Unfaithful” M&M’s (mere mortals), when V&V’s (vegetarian vampires) and W&W’s (were-wolves) are professing true love (with the sole sanctity to protect you, to going any extremes to never hurt you and with the altruism to cease life without you) - girl, you hit a jackpot!

The Revelation:

One fine day, when the “Friendly Neighborhood Sandy-Man” was visiting, he goes, “You know, half of the people around you (during our Masters program) thought you were such a snob (because you just won’t talk to anyone) and the rest, thought you were an introvert, that’s why. However, I know you are neither”.

To which, Yours Truly, sheepishly smiled and said, “Cool”! A beam of hope was shining through the clouds, sending shivers down her spine (in excitement). She pondered if she had finally found a friend - someone who does not use labels to define her.

It is noteworthy to mention that, Sandy-Man was, at that time, pursuing his MBA (Master of Business Administration) from Australia. It is worth mentioning, because as you might be aware, the pre-requisite for admission to an MBA program is scoring high in the atrocious GMAT, which can be easily attributed to his having all the “hip” words up his sleeve (or better still, his vocabulary). Lo and Behold…

While your “Dares To Dream” was musing over and translating her otherwise “amusingly dumbfounded” words of thoughts into “mortally digestible” words of speech (which takes her forever, mind you, because there are so many), the “Friendly Neighborhood Sandy-Man” had broken the “golden” silence that had befallen, regained his speech and was now again talking…

Sandy-Man: “No No No - you are not a Snob, you are not an introvert”…“You are an ambivert”!

Yours Truly: “Huh?”

It was “Cloudy (With a Chance of Meatballs)” once again, with all hope now adjourning to shine through. I for a fact was hoping all the meatballs from the sky fall on Sandy-Man, that very instant.

Sandy-Man: “Meaning, you only talk to those, you like talking to!”

Yours Truly: “Ah!”

Sandy-Man: “See? You are such a chatterbox with me!”

Yours Truly: “Sure.”

I had this impulse to ask, “And surely enough, you count your blessings or does that make you feel like a Turkey right before Thanksgiving - doomed?”, when a long hard look at him disclosed that he was undeniably inclined towards the latter.

To date therefore, I maintain, I am not an “introvert”. I am an “ambivert” (all Thanks to the “Friendly Neighborhood Sandy-Man” for clearing that up for us) Aaaaaaaaaargh! I am so glad we came up with this acronym DGMWIYCGMR, which we will be using over and over - in this context to simply say that your “Dares To Dream” is not trying to be snobbish either.

Miss Goody Two-Shoes?

Uh-uh, we weren’t going to talk about Betty Cooper (from Archie Comics) if that’s what I led you into believing.

We can now return to my story, having harmlessly eliminated any doubt that might have otherwise arisen as to the state of my “vert”-ness (intro, extro, or ambi). Please bear with me - I get very jittery, if I don’t get to coin a new word every once in a while. So, once upon a time, I was (whoa!) bashful.

It was a common phenomenon in my school, for the coy ones to become the “fans” of the ones that stood out (for whatever reason) or the “popular” ones (or to have “girl crushes”, if you will)! I too, became a huge “anonymous” fan of this one classmate. She might have been aware that there were ardent admirers out there. The popular girls always know they are popular, don’t they?

I was a sophomore in high school (i.e., in 10th grade) at that time. I even had her photograph taken by a common acquaintance (through my camera - as it was incontestably mine to keep. In case you were so hypothesizing, there was nothing “digital” about that age). I didn’t take the picture myself because I was too shy to admit it was mine to keep. Did I mention there was one other “graph” (in addition to the photo-graph) that I took, her auto-graph? After all these years, I still remember what it read like. I agree to share the contents of the autograph with you, in exchange of a “dark” secret of yours that you share with me. Deal?

On the last day before the school closed for the summer break, I made up my mind - I was going to let her know who her secret admirer was. I don’t think ones imagination goes very far during childhood (mine did not - at least in those days), and so I eagerly brought chocolates which I proudly planned on handing to her in person. I was deeply excited, after I had courageously gifted those chocolates to her and she smiled, saying “Thank You” and graciously left to board her school bus, never trying to embarrass me. That was sweet (her not mortifying me).

During that summer break, I cranked calls at her place (more like, blank calls or something), to just hear her voice. Another thing, to keep in mind is that there was no such thing as caller ID tracing and what have you today. Which is why, I could blank call at no risk. Evidently, I had asked another peer to obtain her land line number for me (there weren’t any cell phones either, in that era and consequently, “thankfully” no caller ID type thing).

Who knew about this “all platonic” girl crush? On the face of it, only a handful of people knew about it - other schoolmates (who were themselves also “crush”-ed, if you see what I am saying), for they helped in procuring her snap (as in snapshot) and phone number. However, as you might have safely inferred, “the rents” did not (nor did sis) for they would have only uttered in bewilderment, “What?! What are you talking about”? (That being, an unusually common normal human reaction to whatever I am, in general talking about). Besides, I was always good at keeping secrets (until I started writing)!

The “aberrant” phase lasted only a couple of months, it was a fairly short stint - little did I know that it was going to set the trend for all my future relationships (you will learn more as we chug along).

Today that I write about it, I can’t seem to come up with a reasonable explanation for the “let-me-not-qualify-it” behavior. On second thoughts, do I need one? It is another thing that I (as a rule of thumb) don’t explain or justify self. Again, that’s because what is an “explanation” to one, may simply be an “excuse” to another. Get it? Then tell me, “I don’t like to explain myself because it can signify that I am giving lame excuses” is a lame excuse (to not provide an explanation) or is that a plausible explanation (to not get by with excuses)? Eh?

Why do some people always need excuses to justify things in their lives? Why do I feel the need to qualify the behavior by using prefixes such as, “juvenile” or “naïve”? Why can’t I leave it at that, sans any qualifier - or must I say, the “unqualified” behavior? It’s creepy isn’t it? How “unqualified” does not serve well as a non-qualifier! Ha!

It sounds so cliché, “I slept with your best friend because I was drunk” or “I slept with your girl friend because she seduced me into it”. Oh! Here, this one takes the cake, “I was working round-the-clock, and wasn’t getting enough sleep. I was stressed. Basically, my defense was down which explains why I could not resist indulging in adultery”. Mind boggling! Stuff people can come up with to camouflage their predatory instincts. How about, “I screwed your friend, because I wanted to”! Wouldn’t do very well (in so far as undoing the damage) but then, whosoever said coming clean does?!

How about owning complete responsibility of our conducts? It happened. PERIOD. There is no excuse for it. PERIOD. Life just happens. You have to go with the flow. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! Hey, it would be unjust to proceed sans the mention of this soulful Christmas song….

Oh the weather outside is frightful,

but the fire is so delightful,

and since we've no place to go,

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping,

and I've bought some corn for popping,

the lights are turned way down low,

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

When we finally kiss goodnight,

how I'll hate going out in the storm!

But if you'll really hold me tight,

all the way home I'll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,

and, my dear, we're still goodbying,

but as long as you love me so,

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Gosh! It feels bare having talked you through this abashing episode of my life (and this is just the beginning, there are many more to follow). Promise to email an equally (or more) embarrassing a moment, so that you and I are at the same page - that being, “mortification”. Please? And don’t worry, I will bury your secrets in my heart (pretty much the same way as I have buried my own - well, like I mentioned previously, at least up until now I had).

“Get Smart”:

I very distinctly remember, girls studying in my school (the best private school i.e.) thought very highly of themselves (including, “Dares To Dream”) and had a tendency to look down upon the boys and girls going to the other more common private schools or to the public schools of our town, for that matter (snoot!). Not many schools were “English” medium at that - where English is used as a medium of instruction (which came with a tuition fee, as a matter of fact).

Needless to say, the boys around the town were gaga for “Josephites”. How did we know? Perchance, some of the girls had “Brothers” who tipped them off (and they in turn apprised the rest of us), while the popular ones just knew, because they were “more aware” of their surroundings, still others came from affluent families, where there is an open powwow on things like these (which is an immensely healthy exercise).

Apparently, it cannot be emphasized enough what coming from a small town or a middle income family implies. The girls (my age) coming from big cities and/or affluent families, might be more “aware” of their surroundings because they emerge from a different walk of life altogether. It’s one where you walk the talk, talk the walk, walk the walk and talk the talk (and essentially, everything else to do with walk and talk put together). There is much more exposure and fewer (or at times no) restrictions.

In an attempt to make us street smart (I can’t imagine why else), the sisters (from this academic community) would always advise us to keep away from the “anti-social” elements - that was the code, amongst us, Josephites, for the opposite species.

They would also tell us to not be emotional fools. Ha! Sister! Is that not a manufacturing defect (more like a free “gift” from God to femininity)? And one should take pride in God gifts. Shouldn’t “thou” know better (simply because “thee” spend all “thy” time with the “Holy Spirit” and are considered to be closer to him)?!

It follows that the Fair Sex are from the Heavens above (this time, excluding Yours Truly, irresistibly) - on account of having this God gift of “emotions” that runs through them. I, on the other hand, am from some alien territory (known to no one) - which we will learn about later. See? There are no secrets between us and I would like to keep it that way. Is that too much to ask?!

I hear, “Men are from Mars…” (They so claim and I am at a loss to deny them what is so rightfully theirs in consideration of lacking sufficient evidence to the contrary)! Here’s an addition, “…and the Fair Sex are from Heaven” (in accordance with the ingenious theory propounded by your one and only, “Dares To Dream”)! So all you lovely people out there, next time we see our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, “girl” friends, “girl friends” or friends (with or without benefits), let’s be a little more respectful of them. Let’s sincerely “Thank” them for all their love that they bring in our lives, thereby making it splendidly meaningful. “Love Actually”, without which, nothing can possibly symbolize anything.

As a quick breakout, if a “man” was reading this (particularly the one I have in mind) or “Tiger”, he would say, “Now, should I thank my wife and “girl friend” at the same time”? To which, my rejoinder is, “Fathoming the kind of person you are - the kind that keeps wife and “girl friend” simultaneously, I haven’t a clue why on earth any member of the fair sex (having all her marbles intact) would love you. However, as it stands currently, that’s the brutal truth and the least you can do is be grateful to both and thank them nonetheless, for they are doing what they do best - loving you!”.

Disclaimer: The character “Tiger” in this work is fictitious. Any resemblance to real person, living or dead is purely coincidental.

Go “Girl”!

It was comic how we thought; no one was “good” enough for us. It was not until after I had passed out (aka, graduated) from senior high school, did I learn that there was a lesbian couple. Mmm…this is getting juicier…the scandalous scoop disseminated through the grape vine, when someone (inadvertently), caught a glimpse of these two in a compromising position. There's no smoke without fire. What say?!

Speaking of, “no one else” being good enough for us (except one of us?!). Huh? Very befitting! After getting these insights, it puzzled me, if the world around me was growing too fast, or was I a tad too slow? Finishing school doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all, you never know what you might uncover!!!

Hey, let’s please read this very responsibly and never in front of the nuns from my catholic convent.

Hmm…I am thinking what might be a good number to close this one on? Great! I think I might have found just the right one!

Do I seem a little too influenced with Bollywood movies? But then, everyone around seems to be getting influenced. Why, this “Slumdog Millionaire” had people going nuts over it. So much so that I suspected getting “stereotyped”. Shortly after the movie was released, an absolute stranger at my work place looks at me and goes, “Slumdog”! To which I responded, “Excuse Me?” and then he kind of apologetically (or not), rephrased, “I was suggesting the movie, Slumdog, is a good one. Did you see it”?

There would be a day, I surmised, when people would see me walk past and say, “There goes a Slumdog…” and I would only disdainfully add, “…sans the millions”.

However, if you think I am getting influenced with Bollywood movies, where song and dance becomes the very soul of any movie, then I might have to concur. I thrive on Bollywood movies (and their soundtracks). That could be why we have so carefully, yet unavoidably integrated songs/hymns/prayers and the like, in your “Dares To Dream”’s autobiography. As for dance…(hmm…since you and I are getting to know each other, it might be a good idea to spill the beans, so to say, okay, if you must)…one Appletini is all it takes!

Now that you have talked me into it, why don’t you enjoy this track (or its excerpts, ratherish) by Rick James, while I go wash off the dirt with some Vodka? - As Tom Cruise’s co-star aptly puts it (in “Minority Report”), “Dig up the past, all you get is dirty”. And the most gifted of the 3 Pre-cogs (or the female pre-cog), adds over and over, “Can you see?”...

She's a very kinky girl

The kind you don't take home to mother

That girl is pretty kinky

The girl's a super freak

She's a very special girl

The kind of girl you want to know

From her head down to her toenails

Down to her feet, yeah

Super freak, super freak

That girl's a super freak