Are you a Nomophobe?

mobile-addictionI wake up from a good nights sleep and reach out to my phone (growing up, I would wake up looking for my toothbrush, that moment when your toothpaste became a bubblegum, it was magical) I unlock my phone and BAAAM – no network! I toss around and try going back to sleep, hoping that when I wake up again, the horror of a network less phone would fade away. I push myself closer to my phone and what I see this time fills my eyes with disbelief and I try misleading my consciousness. No network reception! I immediately reach out to my brother’s, mother’s and father’s phone – they all have network on theirs! telecom could not do this to me, at least not today, when I am geared up for a hike and flaunted the evening earlier, about the brilliance of the GPS on my phone. Half hour later, I decide to switch my sim to another phone and in process I realize that my phone required a micro sim and all the other phones available are not adaptable with my micro sim. I feel like an Orphan but I console myself. I tell myself that, God loves me and he never abandons his child. An hour later I still see no network on my phone. This time I do not feel like an orphan but I realize that I am going through a serious illness.

I think of all the things I was probably missing, due to the lack of accessibility. What if the lakes dried and I didn’t know? What if someone dear to me met with an accident? What if he is trying to call me and since my phone won’t connect he called someone else instead? What if I missed my dream job? What if apocalypse began? I conclude that I am Nomophobiac.

I take shower, get dressed, pack my backpack and set to leave. When I am about to take my first step outside home my phone calls out to me. I see an apology message from my telecom provider, I see the network bars flash on my screen, I see hope, I see life. I leave zombie land and become human once again. I step out of home with broad shoulders, wide smile and immense pride.

Although the hike went great, the way I reacted earlier that day left me thinking all night. I felt sorry for myself. All my life I considered myself independent, professionally and emotionally. But today I acted like a slave to technology. As much as it is a boon, it also makes you parasitic. Gives you a sickness which is very contagious. No one likes being sick definitely not me. So I decided that going forward, on every holiday and at least once in every ten days I would switch off my phone completely for a day. If circumstances do not allow me to switch it off the least I can do is disable the data card / internet on my phone. I have been following this religiously ever since. Every weekend I either give my phone a holiday or I use it to answer calls only from the people who matter the most. I try my best to keep myself away from internet and my phone.

I won’t swear that this has drastically changed my lifestyle but it did make a difference. I feel healthier and more productive because of the hours I am able to save. I use the same time by relaxing , catching up with movies or books and sometimes putting my thoughts and experiences to words. Most importantly I enjoy human company more than my smart phone’s.



#addiction, #cellphone, #habbit, #lifestyle, #nomophobia

Not just a language – Telugu and beyond.

if-you-talk-to-a-man-in-a-language-he-understands-that-goes-to-his-head-if-you-talk-to-him-in-his-language-that-goes-to-his-heart-nelson-mandelaGrowing up I would listen to a lot of stories. My mom would have to tell me a story almost every day while feeding me or while putting me to sleep. Today when I think about all those stories I realize that irrespective of the plot, the protagonists and the moral, I enjoyed these stories mostly because they were in my mother tongue – Telugu. Mother tongue or native language is defined as the first language a new born is exposed to. I believe that one’s mother tongue can play a vital role in ones upbringing. Subconsciously we are all very emotionally connected with our native language. Our language brings in us a sense of belonging, an identity and our dialect acts as a foundation to learning any other language. Even the best of polyglots always leave a trial of their mother tongue influence while pronouncing certain words. Which according to me is a beauty in its own right. I am a big fan of languages, and I feel extremely blessed to be an Indian. I cannot think of any other country with as much exposure and variety of languages, the way Indians experience.

At school when I first time heard the story of Adam and Eve I was fascinated. I remember asking my teacher “what language did they speak” I was confident that my teacher would say English and secretly I was hoping she would say Telugu, but I was blown out of my mind when she said Hebrew. I obviously didn’t even know a language as such existed. I went to school in Sharjah where Arabic was mandatory and trust me what a tough language it was! Though I would really work hard and practice much, I could barely pass my exams. Having said that I still find Arabic as one of the most appealing language in terms of its script and their music. When we relocated to Hyderabad, I was told that Telugu was mandatory in school. I spent two days with my aunt to learn how to read and write Telugu so that I could clear my schools entrance test. Fortunately, the school waived it off for me and I was given the option to study Hindi and Special English instead. But that day I realized how much I was really fond of my mother tongue. In spite of studying Arabic for years I can’t remember a word to date but on the other hand I could learn Telugu in just few days. How much you really like a language can impact your learning curve to such a great extent.

Telugu is a Dravidian language and is the only language other than Hindi, English and Bengali that is predominantly spoken in more than one Indian state. Also, it is counted as one of the six classical languages, others being Tamil, Sanskrit, Kannada, Malayalam and Odia. Although I don’t totally justify my mother tongue I have never shy away from speaking in my native. I feel deeply sorry for the younger generation for missing out on this amazing feeling of being able to speak in your ancestral language. Globalization has not only standardized processes and products, but also, dialects. It is indeed a great idea to standardize a language as long as it is being used only from a trade perspective. With constructed auxiliary languages like Esperanto getting famous by the day, it raises concern to many people like me. It is sad how many parents today do not think it is necessary for their children to learn their mother tongue and in turn teach them English grammar from womb. Because the norm these days is that if you don’t speak good English you will be disrespected.

I am not sure if it is too late to change this belief but it is definitely never too late to contribute. If you agree with me, I urge you take a moment, think about how beautiful your mother tongue is and speak enough to save it from its fading charm.

#english, #languages, #literature, #mothertongue, #native, #telugu

A Wave Of Words

Eminem-reading-300x300 Lyrical geniuses like Morrison , Lennon and Osbourne come across to me more as prophets of their time rather than musicians. These poets wrote with no filters and undoubtedly it did offend many but they also made thought provoking music. Music which you could either love or hate but not ignore. Lyrics which sounded absurd, repellent and sensitive at the same time. These musicians had the strength to connect with their listeners to a level which only the listener could experience. They had the power to establish an invisible bond strong and dependable.

People are strange when you are a stranger , faces come out of the rain, when you’re strange no one remembers your name, said Jim Morrison. In the face of entertainment very often these musicians come up with such strong statements which one just can not overlook. A lot of truth is said in just a dictum. Like, being hit by a wave of words and you can not sail through, so strong is their aura, so engulfing is their music.

As a kid all my friends had their version of an alter ego – Hannah Montana, Lizzie Mcguire, Christina to Britney and so on but for me it has always been Marshall Mathers yes I am talking about The Eminem. I have been listening to him since the soft launch of Lose yourself (2003) since then there has never been a day when his music has not comforted me. Every time I have been in a situation instead of seeking for advice I’d just find a space and escape into his lyrical world with his music so intense yet so sensitive. I know many people resist rap for the negativity it promotes but it never affected me. Even in the most harsh of words used, I have always found a deeper meaning. Besides his music, as an individual he has been one of the strongest men I have ever come across. An excellent father, a hurt lover, a friend to always count on and a Lyrical God. His rags to riches journey has not only won him innumerable titles but also hearts, mine for sure and for ever to stay.

When I listen to the latest music I get confused, most of the times I do not understand or I just do not want to understand – Paranoid is the word. Do we even have lyricist anymore or are the words generated by an app which also does the recording later, because all the famous singers today sound robotic to me. I have absolutely no problem with people who listen to trance, edm, house etc but does this mean that lyricists are going to be an extinct breed soon. Where are the people whose music had the power to motivate, celebrate, intimate and even bring tears to our eyes. There have been so many tracks upon listening to which, it gave me a sense of ownership, as though the artist could almost read my mind and knew exactly what i’d like to hear or say. I wonder when will we get to hear such music again. Correct me if I am being ignorant but  I wonder if we’ll get to listen to such music at all again or perhaps start saving our favorites from the past before they become antique.

#eminem, #emotions, #lyrics, #modernmusic, #music, #musicians, #words

Indian Education On A Flight

As a frequent traveler I often get an opportunity to talk to co travelers from different backgrounds, culturally and geographically. Being inquisitive by nature, I never let go of this opportunity to learn more from them, about their culture, their interests and belief system. There is a certain excitement in getting to know things you never knew about, especially when it comes from the most unexpected sources. Interacting with co travelers / other tourists not only makes the journey entertaining, but can also be an amazing learning experience.

Daniel and RosellaI couldn’t get Rosella Kameo off my mind. We spent about 19hours together on a flight from Singapore to LAX. And what a journey it was! Rosie is an American married to Daniel who is an Indonesian. Daniel is an economist with the highest degrees an economist could receive. He has written many articles, delivered speeches internationally, and served as a visiting professor at Eastern University in Pennsylvania.  Rosie is an American who majored in English, obtained a certificate in teaching English as a Second Language,  earned an M.A. in Library Science, and wrote a book on her own cross-cultural experiences  – Light for the Journey: 75 Devotional Reflections from Cross-Cultural Experiences, published in 2012 by WinePress and reprinted in 2014 by Redemption Press. She enjoys blogging and is compiling cross-cultural stories for her next book.

When Rosie graduated from college, she was sent by the Lutheran Church in America to India for three years to teach English at Schade Girls Higher Secondary School in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh. She had spent a summer in Norway before, but this was her very first teaching assignment and her first trip to Asia. I was super excited after listening to this and decided to interview her. As follows –

Q) What convinced you to leave a comfortable life in the US only to teach in India? How did your parents feel about that?

A) My father, as a professor of biochemistry at the University of Iowa, would always invite international students home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other festive occasions. This exposure to international students made me excited and curious about other cultures. I wanted to do what I could, to facilitate students in underprivileged areas and to contribute as I could to their schools.My parents were both teachers, and my brothers became teachers as well. Growing up in family of teachers helped me to respect teachers and value teaching as a profession. Because my parents knew that I was anxious to teach abroad, they were very excited about the opportunity I had received and happy to let me go, but only on one condition – that I would write to them every week.

Q) How many students did you teach in India and what did you teach them?

A) There were 1,200 girls in our school. I taught English to the higher secondary students and music and action songs to the primary school children.

Teaching action songs to primary classesQ) What changes did you have to make to your teaching style?

A) The teaching situation was different than in the US. I had to learn to adapt to the hierarchical system in India. Also, being an expat made a difference in the 1960s in terms of cultural exchange. I spent the first few months learning Telugu from a tutor. Learning the language was essential for me to fit in. Learning Telugu also helped me to understand why my students were making the mistakes they were in English.  It is important to want to know the students as individuals to be able to establish a bond with them. I was frequently invited home to meet my students’ families, and I involved myself in their activities. At the school our dance teacher taught me classical Indian dance – Bharatanatyam – which I was asked to perform in public on different occasions.  Because I lived on the school compound with the headmistress, teachers and students, it was easier for me to establish the rapport I needed to become an effective teacher.

Q) What was the major difference in teaching in India vs America?

A) In India students showed their respect for the teachers by standing in unity and greeting them. They seem more disciplined, whereas, in the US students tend to be more mischievous, relaxed and informal. The students I taught in India seemed to accept the teachers’ answers and didn’t ask a lot of questions. They were less vocal about their concerns and doubts. They knew their place in the hierarchy. In the US students are more demanding and do not hesitate to question the teacher or give feedback. They are very vocal about their needs and ensure that they are met. It’s more egalitarian, and the hierarchy rather flat.

Q) What was the major difference you found in terms of the education system between India and America?

A) Teaching material – India has a set curriculum and is very result- oriented where as in the US there is more emphasis on student-centered learning.  In the US, students and teachers seem to interact more freely. Students are encouraged to be active in their learning, and teachers strive to be creative.

Grading system – In the US grading is more relaxed and not as exam-oriented. Students’ daily work, projects, and compositions contribute just as much to their grades as do the exams.  Because the Indian grading system emphasized exams, there was rarely enough time to teach beyond the textbook.

Q) What factors do you think contributed to these differences?

A) In the US, individualism is a key value. Individual differences are acknowledged and valued. American children are encouraged to reach their own unique potentials.  They are not taught to conform but to speak their minds – to be open and direct. This individualism helped to lay the foundation for teaching methodologies and teacher- student relationships. Asians are collective by nature – valuing the family and the group over the individual. After colonialism they still maintained a hierarchical system that has influenced their educational systems.

Q) Since you have been a frequent traveler, your son has had the opportunity to experience different school systems and academic climates. What was your major take away from him?

A) When asked to compare his educational experiences, our son expressed it in this way: In Indonesia the teacher always told us what we did wrong. In Australia the teachers always told us what we did right. In Indonesia the teachers pointed out our weaknesses whereas in Australia they pointed out our strengths.  When we were living in Indonesia, the school principal once told us that they were having problems with our son – he was asking too many questions. When we moved to Australia, our son’s home room teacher told us that he was doing so well because he asked a lot of questions. His teachers there encouraged questions and praised him for being inquisitive. I also believe that my son was a better student than I was because he had the opportunity to experience different educational systems and to learn from teachers with different cultural and geographical orientations.

Q) What was your most memorable experience from the school in India?

A) I loved the friendship I enjoyed with my Indian teacher colleagues at the school.  I was touched when one of my colleagues named her daughter ‘Rosie’ after me.  The school also had a huge Alsatian dog named Perry Como.  He and I became inseparable companions. He would follow me around the school compound and attended most of my classes, too.

Q) What advice would you give to aspiring teachers?

A) It is important to be flexible, to adapt to the local situation, to appreciate the culture, and to understand the students’ mentality. Teachers themselves should always be open to learning.

Light for the JourneyThis was Rosie’s last book and you can follow her blog

#america, #asia, #education, #india, #lifestyle, #trends