Days Of Yore

Posted: July 13, 2011 in Experience, Toastmasters
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The bell rang. I could hear the students chanting their evening prayer followed by a chorus “Thank you mam”. It was 4:00 pm in the evening. Motley of uniformed students came out rushing towards their waiting parents, auto rickshaws and cycles. Few others decided to quench their sporting pursuits by choosing to play carom, chess, volley ball, cricket and badminton. I was also one among those uniformed students just few years ago.

My friends and I were waiting outside my school looking at the giant building which was our second home not long ago. The agenda to come to school was straight forward. Teachers! We wanted to meet our teachers. We all missed our teachers in some way or the other and it all amalgamated towards fulfillment on 20th June 2005.

First up was the Principal. She was always busy especially after the school ends for the day. Nothing changed even when we went to meet her that day. We were waiting to meet our Principal. As we were waiting, the memories of the days I enjoyed unmindful of the competitive world outside engulfed me.

The same small ground just in front of the Principal room had been a witness to many a number of quarrels, chit-chats, and even mindless cupid wars. That ground has seen me from shedding blood to crowning glory. Except for the students who were playing on it today, the ground simply remained the same.

After few minutes, we entered our Principal‘s room and I was surprised when she recognized us easily and even called few of us by our names. The lady whom we feared a little won our hearts that day. Heartwarming indeed!

After we met the Principal, we immediately rushed to meet our teachers as we did not want to miss anyone. The reactions from my teachers ranged from surprise to sheer joy in meeting us. The conversations were a mixture of what we are doing, what we want to do in future and predominantly how life has been since school. The fun part was really when few of my teachers managed to recollect the pranks we played during our heydays. I personally felt the warmth and tinge of happiness in every word spoken, in every pleasantry exchanged and in every quip cracked. Mobile numbers were exchanged and promises to keep visiting school once in a while were taken.

Finally, my friends and I went to our 12th standard classroom and spent a few quiet moments within ourselves.

It was a satiating day – both mentally and emotionally. I bid goodbyes to my friends and started for home. Along the way, I felt nothing seemed to have changed with my school. The sanctity of my temple of learning was intact and most importantly my teachers were simply the same – ever encouraging and always caring. As I recollect my life’s precious moments, those 90 minutes I spent in my school will remain as one of those moments that I will cherish forever.

(This article was written for Wordsmiths Toastmasters Club’s 150th meeting newsletter on the theme “Life’s Precious Moments)

My Mentor’s Ribbon…

February 27th 2010 – It was a quite, serene and tranquil Saturday afternoon except that I did not realize it as I do today. Every cell in my brain was embedded with only 700 odd English words as my heart continued playing a discordant symphony skipping a beat or two here and there. Nothing was quite, serene and tranquil within me, as the Toastmaster of the day called me out to be guillotined for the very first time. It was my Ice Breaker. Learning by rote for 17 long years helped as I read, re-read and re-re-read the facts about me until I really knew everything by heart about me! The initial moments were nervous but a responsive audience helped me sail through my first speech successfully. That day, I had a plethora of firsts to take back home – the first laughter I managed to evoke, the first nod of assurance I garnered, the first message I conveyed, the first joy of finishing a speech I wrote, the first best speaker award I received and the ultimate first among the firsts – the first hug from my mentor TM Rajeev Nambiar. After all this came the ‘The’ moment when Rajeev pulled out his ribbon which he had won for his Ice Breaker and gifted it to me. Joy! My Ice Breaker was indeed special and thanks to all those wonderful people for making it feel so special.

Yours Indebted,

Krishnan Chidambaram

(The above writeup was submitted for Chennai Toastmasters Club’s 300th meeting special edition newsletter contest on the theme “Rewind, Recollect, Rejuvenate” in 250 words.  Personally writing this article was a very fulfilling experience.. rewinding those memories, recollecting those moments and finally feeling rejuvenated at the end of it all. The bonus was it also won me the first place 🙂 )

Teddy Bear!

Posted: November 30, 2010 in Experience
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I finished my security check. I had two hours time to board my flight. I had a copy of frozen thoughts magazine for company. The book kept me engrossed until a loud hue and cry disturbed me. It belonged to a little kid who was not ready to let go of his teddy bear at the security check point. I could see his father trying to convince him but the child was not giving up that easily. His cry only grew louder. Looking helpless, his father held the little fellow up and kept two of his suitcases in the screening track for the luggages to be scanned. Looking at the suitcase move automatically, the child now stopped crying and his eyes were fixed on the other end of the screening track. The suitcases came out and his mother collected the suitcases. From the distance I saw, I could make out that the child’s father was trying to explain the little fellow that his teddy will also come back to him safely. The parting was just for a few seconds.

The teddy bear went through the screening check and came out. As soon as the teddy came out, the kid ran and picked it up joyously. The smile was back on that innocent face and all of us sitting there in the waiting lounge went back to our work.

I could not read any more. I was just reflecting on the thought that today we are living in a world where even a little kid’s teddy bear has to be screened. Such are the security issues and problems. But the little child did not know why his teddy bear had to be sent through the screening device. In fact the screening device would have looked like another toy to the kid – a toy which takes in objects and gives out objects automatically. His world is devoid of bomb scares, violence and bloodshed.

Will all of us ever have a world like that???!!!!

Happy Diwali :)

Posted: November 2, 2010 in Story
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I looked at my watch. Time was running out. Worry, agony, tension and fear of losing out was written all over my face. I rushed, pushed and plunged. Luckily, I made it to the flight. The beautiful looking American air hostess greeted me in. “Ooo.. that was a close shave wasn’t it”. Yeah..I replied. She asked me.. Indian? Yeah.. Happy Diwali!! She said. Oh thanks.. thanks a lot.. I replied!!

Yes.. It was Diwali in five day’s time in India and I was desperate to return home. Happy Diwali!!! Happy Diwali!! Happy Diwali!! These words always brought back the fond memories of my childhood. I settled into my seat and fastened my seat belts. My journey took off and I went straight into my life when I was just ten years old.

The year was 1995. I was this little plump kid whose cheeks were liberally used by all the aunties of my apartment. I had an entire gang of friends with whom I played, fought and enjoyed many evenings. It was Diwali time and all of my friends got a week’s leave. No school. No books. No exams. I always looked forward to Diwali not just to enjoy the holidays, burst crackers with friends, eat lots of sweets.. but that is when my father would come back home from Dubai. My father was working with an oil company in Dubai and he came to India only twice a year – for my birthday and Diwali. In fact that year, he could not make it to my birthday but promised me that he would be taking a long leave on Diwali eve.

It was four days to Diwali and my father was to arrive on Wednesday. My apartment was already getting into the Diwali mood. Few of my friends started bursting crackers as early as Monday. I too had bought lots of crackers as my dad had promised me that he would burst crackers along with me as a compensation for not coming for my birthday this year. So I was very excited and I decided not to burst any crackers until my dad came home.

Monday went. Tuesday went. I knew Wednesday was my day and I reserved all my energy for this day. I got up early in the morning and was eagerly waiting for my father to come. Sun rose, sun peaked and finally the sun was setting. But my father did not come. I was getting restless. My mother was anxious too and she was trying to find the cause for the delay. Finally at about half past six, my father had called from Dubai. Due to poor visibility, the flights from Dubai were delayed and it may take two days for things to restore is what my mother told me. I just knew only one thing. It meant my father will not come for Diwali. I was heartbroken and sad.

Thursday came. One more day for Diwali and I decided not to celebrate Diwali any more in my life if my father did not come tomorrow. The sun set for one last time before Diwali. The beautiful moon was out. I saw my friend Rahul along with his dad bursting crackers, there was Nithi setting the flower pots on fire with her sister and father, there was Sanjay, Praveen, Dev and Vijay. I looked at my crackers and slowly the pain of missing my father struck me hard and tears overflowed from my eyes. I suffered in silence. I still remember my mother trying to put me to sleep that day telling stories, convincing me, cajoling me and consoling me. It was a long night for us. Finally, I fell asleep.

Amidst the thunderous bursts of crackers, I woke up on the Diwali morning. Happy Diwali!! These were the words I heard as I woke up looking surprised, shocked and stunned. It was my dad. I did not know how or when he reached. But that did not matter. He was here and that was enough for me. My world was back. I hugged him, kissed him and held on to him tightly.

The announcement from the plane captain woke me back to the present. The flight landed in Chennai in few minutes. I wiped the tears which had welled in my eyes. As I headed towards the exit door, I saw a little girl running to hug her father. I knew what that meant and I went straight into the wide waiting arms of my dad and both of us spoke the same words in each other’s ears – Happy Diwali!!! 🙂 🙂

(This story is dedicated to all those hardworking fathers who keep toiling hard, staying away from their family) ~ Krishnan

Special Someones!

Posted: September 5, 2010 in Dedications
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I was a shapeless clay, someone shaped me
I was a barren land, someone nurtured me
I was an empty vessel, someone filled knowledge in me
I was roaming in the world of ignorance, someone educated me!

I was nothing until I came into that someone’s hands – My Teachers!

Happy Teachers Day to all the Sirs & Mams… 🙂

                                                                                                                                                                                                      4th September 2010

As the blog heading reads, this very question was what I was asking myself as I was returning home after participating for the first time in our Wordsmiths Toastmaster Club’s Humor & Evaluation Contests. 

Two aspects which were embedded in my mind made sure I had no confusions in finding out the correct answer!

One – The trappings we usually associate with a contest – winning is everything, looking at your fellow contestant as a competitor, the envies, the pressure to perform etc etc was all missing. Yes.. it was all missing.. but still it was a contest..a different contest with very different trappings – participating is everything, looking at your fellow contestant as a fellow toastmaster friend rather than a competitor, the joys displacing the envies, the pleasure to perform etc etc.

Two – The audience – All part of the ever encouraging family of toastmasters. Every speaker was applauded, encouraged and egged on whole heartedly to give their best shot. Why I tell this? Because to every speaker – experienced or inexperienced, the response from the audience is an important pointer to help them gauge their speech appeal, quash their nervousness, move their speech forward and especially make them grow stronger in confidence. Thanks to the awesome audience.

Yes..It was not a contest I participated in but a celebration in which I contested. 🙂

Finally, a big thank you from my side to each and every toastmaster (Contest Chair (TM Nina John), Chief Judge (TM Lalitha), Judges, role players & fellow participants – Audience as a whole!)who had contributed for this `Grand Celebration`.

Smile

Posted: September 1, 2010 in Experience
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1st September 2010 – Krishna Jayanti

It was a great evening as I went to few of the Krishna temples near my home to pray on this auspicious day when Lord Krishna was born.

The highlights of the evening in all the temples – Baby Krishna’s statue was put in a small cot and people took turns to touch, pray and push the little cot as a sign of putting the baby to sleep and of course an exhibition of dolls depicting the different scenes from the life history of Lord Krishna like the Arjun-Krishna Gita upadesh, Krishna eating/stealing butter, Kamsa vadh etc.

All temples were overflowing with lots of people. Going in queue was the order of the day. Nandalala temple was one of the temples I visited. The best thing about this particular temple which left me thinking on my way back home was the volunteers (all women) managing the queue in the temple.

In temples, people have a tendency to stop and keep looking at the doll exhibits or continue praying unmindful of people standing behind them. But the volunteers of this temple were equipped with a magical weapon to tackle the crowd trouble – Smile! They made sure that the crowd was always on the move and no one was pushed/shouted at to move. It was a simple gesture – smile and convey the message to keep moving. It worked. No one could talk back, fight, feel offended or stop. What each one of us could do was only smile back, acknowledge and keep moving.

Somehow this incident got imprinted in my mind and I was thinking if everything which needs to be conveyed, if it can be done with a tinge of smile and goodwill, then lots of issues would not be issues at all.

Smile is indeed powerful! Felt it today! 🙂