25 April 2007

Harmony, Disconcert, Depress

Once upon a time I loved to (attempt to) sing. Once I was in the zone, I could sing 'Memory' across a wide octave range. I could sing notes that hadn't been invented. I could sing along with the black keys, the white keys, and the cracks too, but I would sing, and in notes that had never been heard and never will be heard again. And I would sing at the top of my voice.

Earlier today, in Japanese class, sensei was photocopying a homework assignment for me. As I was packing up to leave, I heard a very familiar melody over the public address system. I started to hum along, and then began to sing softly to myself.
Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale cold smell of morning

As I sang to myself, sensei asked with all concern, 'Onaka no itai desu ka?' (Is your tummy hurting?)

I told her I was singing... and I don't know who was was more mortified....

I surely am not winning a Grammy in a hurry....

American Idol, here I come!

21 April 2007

Tribulations of a stupid Gaijin

What is Gaijin?
Gaijin - short for Gaikokujin- noun- person from a foreign country.

What Gaijin are we talking about?
Gaijin referred to in headline - yours truly.

Why tribulaitons?
Because I was stupid.

Why was I stupid?
Because something got Lost in Translation.

Now that I've dispensed with the preliminaries, let me start my story.

A few weeks ago, there was the first PTA meeting at Aditi's new Kindergarten. At the PTA, the teacher asked for volunteers. Our translator explained that this was a call for (what I understood was) a homeroom mother kind of thing. And since there were no takers, I volunteered. That should have given me a clue, but like I mentioned before, there's this element of don't-think-just-leap somewhere in my mental make-up.

The first meeting of the homeroom volunteers was called today, and I went with a full dose of enthusiasm. When I walked into the school, there was this classroom readied for the meeting. And it was done up like a corporate boardroom. There was this square-shaped table arrangement, with each participant's place marked with a placard. There was an agenda in front of everyone, and tea and water. That still didn't ring any warning bells.

Next thing I know, speeches, and members started introducing themselves. Something didn't sound right at that point. Weren't we just required to state our names and leave it at that? Each person seemed to have so much to say about themselves. I was the third to speak, I just told the group my name, my daughter's name, what class she was in and sat down. And people were still looking at me, with expressions of "and what else?"

"What else?" That's it people, what else do you want? By then someone was kind enough to translate for me, and told me to talk about what I wanted to achieve as a member of the core committee??

And I started to think..... "Core committee ?? hmmm.. let's see now"... Just a minute! What "Core committee"? No one told me anything about any "core committee"... Isn't this just a meeting of homeroom parents??? For once I was totally speechless, and upheld my right to remain silent and not say anything, and just sat down.

Then the meeting started for real. The accountant (what the ^&*@ is an accountant doing in a PTA?) started reading out long long lists of numbers, that was last year's budget and balance sheet. Then she read out the current year's financial forecasts.

By this time I was fairly stumped. Something was not quite cricket here. And I wanted to know why x-thousands were being allocated for y-activity. That was apparently a no-no.

Then there were discussions about who will do what, for what school activity. Holy *&%#, My idea of school is that I pay fees so you keep my kid amused for a few hours a day! Why on earth am I doing all this? I decided on the easiest way out of the committee work. I offered to do the layout for the annual magazine. No interactions, no committees, nothing!

Then came the worst part. We were asked by the class teachers to plan a trip to the park (100 mts away from school) when every parent pulled out planners and organisers. It took them an hour to agree on a date. By this time, I'd totally lost it. I just told them to tell me when to show up, and where!

Fortunately for my sanity, Arun called. The baby was howling her head off. I apologised profoundly to the group, and ran out like my gluteus maximus was on fire!

Next meeting is a month from now, and I'm fully intend to fall sick a day before that :D

Ours is not to reason why,
Ours is but to listen and forget

(No PTA is going to kill me)