Sunday, November 18, 2007

Children. And other dangerous people.

"All kids are idiots" -- Karl Marx, Das kapital

Marx was right. History is witness to the fact that children, as a rule, are charmingly innocent of truer human qualities such as rationality, judgement, fear and caution. They are, however, quite cunning and cruel and can be very, very vicious to each other and to the general populace, if need be. This brings me to the many instances of corporal punishment I have faced in my life and have made me the strong, resilient, non-cynical character that I am today. It is beyond question that these instances when 'justice was meted out' to me by many people(who were armed despite being stronger than me) have made me one of the finest, most upstanding gentlemen in all of Bangalorean society, let alone my family.

In fact, do let alone my family. Don't go anywhere near them. If they have kids, you will be subjected to a talent show by these kids. Now, no disrespect, but the truth has to be told. These kids are not talented. They don't sing all that well or dance. And those are the only two talents worth mentioning, according to my family. No one says 'Look, my child can juggle!' or 'Look, my child can do card tricks!' or 'Look!! My child has one leg!' It's always singing, or dancing. Or, in rare and ghastly occurrences, both.
If the child is over four years old and has teeth, a tongue and opposable thumbs, it is a safe bet that he/she has joined singing classes. If you're in the house of the child's parents, and as soon as the child is spotted, the parents will jump on you mercilessly.
"Nam Surabhi haadu kelidira??" ("Have you heard our Surabhi sing??")

(A lot of girls seemed to be named Surabhi, in these unabashed displays of talent.)

"Ayyo!! Keli! Channagi haadtaLe. Surabhi, baa-mma! VarNa tanka bandidaLe nam hudugi, ee vayassinalle. Surabhi, Mohana varNa haadu. Modlu Lambodara haadu! Tumba shastroktavagi kaltidaLe."
("Oh God! Do listen! She sings well. Surabhi, come, child! She has learnt up to the varNas, at this tender age. Surabhi, sing Mohana varNa. First, sing 'Lambodara'! She has learnt as the scriptures dictate.")

The child will, quite naturally, refuse, as any self-respecting citizen would upon being asked to sing in front of perfect strangers. But the parents will be insistent.

"Haagella haTHa maadbardu. Nodu, Uncle keltidare. Haadu."
("You shouldn't be stubborn like this. See, Uncle is asking. Sing.")

Now, even if said Uncle refutes this charge('Illa, naanen keLtillvalla..'), his objections shall be swiftly overruled, both by Talented Surabhi's parents and Uncle's wife, Aunty. Aunty achieves this via a sharp jab to Uncle's ribs and a look sharp enough to quell a mutinous mob, upon which Uncle subsides, resigned to his fate of being falsely accused of having asked to listen to Talented Surabhi's singing.

After this, Talented Surabhi, seeing that further resistance would prove futile, will sit down on a mat(mats give you that austere feeling), look around at everybody once and begin singing, beating down mercilessly upon her own right thigh to the beats of the Roopaka taaLa .
"Lam-mm-bo-o-dara La-ku-mi-ka-ra..."
("He of the protruding belly. He who holds the Goddess Lakshmi in His hand.")

Perspiration will begin to drip down Uncle's forehead. 'This is pain beyond anything any human being had imagined so far in human history!' But Surabhi will plough on relentlessly.
"Amm-mm-ba-aa-suta a-ma-ra-vi-nu-ta"
("Son of your Mother. Worshipped by those who are immortal a.k.a the Gods.")

Even Aunty, usually patient with talent shows, will now begin to doubt herself. But Talented Surabhi's parents will be watching closely for their reaction to their child's singing. Uncle and Aunty should now have to change their expression to smiles from mid-horrified grimace, resulting in them looking very like very good look-alikes of Jack Nicholson from 'Batman.'

Surabhi, meanwhile,...
"Sakala vidyaa-" (brief pause, which gives the listener a feeling similar to the one experienced at the highest point of a giant wheel in an exhibiton/fair)

"Aadi poo-oo-ji-ta sa-ar-vo-ott-ta-ma te-nn-na-mo-na-mo"

(I'm not going to translate all that. What am I, an idiot?)

After this wonderful rendition, Surabhi shall then launch into the Mohana varNa, that melodious varNa first taught to all students of Carnatic music. Then will follow any new varNa she might have learnt over the past few days or minutes. Finally, after the performance, Uncle and Aunty breathe a sigh of relief. Covering it up, of course, with profuse praises for young Surabhi. It's over. They've made it.

Not quite.

Surabhi's parents will now go into a Room and fetch all of Surabhi's marks cards and certificates("Nodi, nam hudugi! First rank-u, LKG-nalli! Eeglu ashte, third standard-nalli! Second standard music competition first! Third standard also, first! Ella first!"). You, the visitor, will perforce have to go through all these, expressing your appreciation of her achievements at suitable intervals.

Now your only hope is that Surabhi's parents have exercised some control and she does not have any siblings. If she does, you'll have to go through the whole rigmarole again.

I wish you could say to some parent, "Look! Your child is not cute. Your child is not really all that talented. Just let it be, we don't want to watch." Just like a lot of people said to my parents.

Shit, I got sidetracked. Never mind, I'll come back to what I was going to say originally, later.


Harish said...

Lei, haasya chennaagi kaltidya neenu.
Nimma GurugaLu yaaru anta heLale illa?
Aa Bhagavantaru nimage aarogya ella koDli anta karataLamalaka maaDtivi.

Along came Polly! said...

bloody good Sharma!

Spunky Monkey said...

It begins with a Sree-ee-gaNa-naatha-sin-dhooraa-a-varna, doesn't it? (Surabhi, shaastra ellamma?)
Our aunty-uncles' favorite was always Raa raa vENu gopaabaalaa.

Appa-Amma would insist on my performing too, but later, realizing that I could be stubborn to the point of pretending mute, gave up.

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Malaveeka said...

My parents also still do that.

Only now they speaketh of Harvad and national level competitions.

Oh wait. I'm doing it myself.

I used to also sing. Now I refuse to. As a priciple.

Decent post. Not one of your best. He he.

Malaveeka said...


New to Blogging said...

that was delightful but then, hettavarige or rather swalpa sakidavarige, heggana muddu.
i ought to also add that you had phenomenal memory as a child, writing all the kannada alphabets correctly after just one cursory glance now your cursory glances and phenomenal memory are employed else where, i guess

Siri said...

This inspired me to write a post. Chk my blog

swaroop said...

"Surabhi" He he... Chennaagide hesru.

Also observe that irritating boys generally try to sing fosht Bollywod tracks(And run around). They stop singing abruptly and start their imaginary scooter and run around with that "bVroom, Voyeeeeeeee" sound.