Archive for the ‘Teenagers’ Category

I’m hopping mad at a few things I’ve been reading about recently…
Cancelling rock music shows, performances by people like Lucky Ali or even raiding parties at farm houses is the most idiotic reaction by the Pune Police I’ve seen, since I was an eighteen year old. Are we sliding back into the silly ages?

According to some it’s the parents who are upset that their children attend these shows and get drunk or inhale banned substances. Firstly, a lot of parents should take a good look at themselves in the mirror and think back to the time they were in teens. Secondly, if parents can’t develop that trust with their children then they have only themselves to blame. And because they can’t rein in their kids they push it on the policemen?

I’m pretty sure many parents sneaked around as kids, doing things they now don’t want their kids to do. Have we forgotten those long drives with girl friend(s) or that surreptitious ciggy in the public garden after sunset or as we got older, bringing friends home to party when the folks were out? That is not to say parents should turn a blind eye to what their children do. But running to the cops is hardly the solution!

So to feign helplessness and run to the police is the worst thing parents could do to alienate themselves from their children. And for the police to take up cudgels on behalf of parents, it must mean they really have nothing better to do. At least this is what I read in the case of the police raiding the kiddie party hosted in some farmhouse in the city. Why did the parents give permission to their children to attend such a party, in the first place? And now politicians jump into the fray telling teenagers to stop partying.

Why don’t the police do what they are supposed to do – stop bomb blasts, murders, rapes and other crimes, instead of playing nursemaid to unfit parents? Pune hasn’t exactly been a model city this last decade and the cops are largely responsible for that decline.

Not all children think living away from their parents means brushing their teeth with Old Monk every morning and using a spoon for purposes other than stirring a tea cup, in the evenings. I know a lot of responsible students who understand the fact that parents are paying so much for their education because it would help them make a better life. If some youngsters don’t understand that, then it’s for the parents to find a way out.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the report that said that police officials would be meeting college principals and headmasters to discuss the growing phenomenon of young students “seeking entertainment that did not augur well with their age”! Pray, how do college principals keep a check on a student once he or she leaves the college premises?

Then we have the case of the cops stopping rock shows, because young people do things they shouldn’t be doing. Why not just evict those who are under the influence of booze and drugs? I’m sure there must be enough people at such concerts who come to listen to the music and chill. Why spoil their fun? It’s time the police officials learn to to do their jobs in the manner they should instead of these absurd knee-jerk reactions because a handful of brats make a nuisance of themselves. And what’s the guarantee that there are no oddballs getting drunk or stoned at a performance of Ustad Zakir Hussain or Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma or Shobha Gurtu or Shubha Mudgal?

Sometime in 1984, I went for an out-of-the-world music performance in Mumbai’s Cooperage ground. Everyone was seated, there was no dancing or anyone going crazy, and I could smell smoke of a different kind blowing in the wind. It was pretty obvious the smell wasn’t of just tobacco but no one bothered the next guy. There were teenagers mingling with adults and everyone was loving the music from the quartet who had the audience eating out of their hand. No one misbehaved, no one was thrown out and everyone was having a good time. Guess who was playing – Ustad Zakir Hussain, John McLaughlin, Vikku Vinayakram and L Shankar aka Shakti.


The other day one of my female colleagues came up to me and demanded my attention. Skulking behind her was this teenaged student who was in low waist jeans and a rather short top, from under which peeked her belly button!

The colleague’s query: “Do you believe the student is dressed appropriately? Should she be penalised?” Behind her, I could see some of the student’s friends imploring me to side with them! I gave my colleague both opinions – personal and professional. While she was okay with my professional opinion, that the student should be penalised for flouting the rules, she wasn’t too pleased with my personal opinion – a shrug of the shoulders!

Here’s a teenager who wants to dress the way everyone else does today, and I see nothing wrong in that. But yes, if a rule is a rule, the student should be taken to task. My take, when she has all the time after college to walk around in anything she wants to, why not just follow the rules while in college? I know some people will say media schools should not have such restrictions. Maybe, but the rule is there and until someone decides to scrap it, we have to follow it. There’s no point fretting and fuming.

The colleague’s next question: Would you allow your daughter to dress like ‘this’? When my answer was again a shrug of the shoulders, she got even more perturbed. She expected me to agree with her and I wasn’t going to. I have no problem with people who ascribe to such views, but please don’t expect me to do the same or have such an attitude.

My sister-in-law believes we (my wife and I) have ‘spoilt’ her 18-year-old daughter by buying clothes that her mother considers bold. So now when we want to buy the kid some clothes, her mother tags along, just to make sure we don’t lead her astray!

Like, this dear friend in Delhi who’s rather good-looking and I don’t know if she knows it. She’s tall, dusky and attractive, and every time she steps out she makes heads turn. When I was in Delhi this time and we were strolling around the Capital’s markets or travelling by the Metro, I was amused watching the guys and the girls giving her admiring glances!

While on our way to dinner at Big Chill in Khan Market, we walked past this bunch of guys, one of whom put his hand to his heart and just rolled his eyes when he saw her! I don’t know if she even noticed, but I did and wanted to laugh!

The day she walked into the newspaper office, where I worked, to meet the Editor-in-Chief at my request, around 15 years ago, all the men stopped working and stood up to get a good look at her! I had to dampen their interest by telling them that she was seeing someone. She still is. And I’ve never seen her dress in anything outrageous or revealing to grab attention. She doesn’t need to. And that’s my point.

Which brings me to why, I thought of this subject. I was on Facebook and among the people who are on my list are some female students of mine who announce that they are in a “relationship” with each other! I am pretty sure they aren’t but there is a shock value in that! And today’s teenagers love to shock – whether it’s the language, dress or manner in which they conduct themselves!

So, while I have no issues with people who want to shock, I do wonder whether there is a need to trivialise serious and very personal issues like sexual orientation. And then, they should remember, once it’s on the Internet, it’s in the public domain and open to misuse. What may be done in fun today, may not seem as funny tomorrow.

Before Partition, when my mother was in Lahore, she taught at the Hans Raj Mahila Maha Vidyalaya, where there was a student called Uma Sood, who was very popular because of her looks. When Partition was announced, my mother managed to get out of Lahore and came to work in Meerut, from where she would frequently dash off to Delhi to meet cousins and friends.

Years later when she was strolling around Connaught Place in Delhi, she saw a huge crowd outside one of the shops and asked the reason. She heard that “famous film actor Kamini Kaushal” was in the shop and everyone was waiting to catch a glimpse of her and maybe get an autograph. My mother too stood in the line waiting to see Ms Kaushal. When the film star came out of the shop, she was rushing towards her car, when she caught sight of my mother.

She rushed up to her, hugged her and asked, “Ms. Menon what are you doing here?”

Always the one for a quick repartee, my mother wisecracked, “Waiting to see Kamini Kaushal, who was Uma Sood when I was teaching her in Lahore.” They both had a good laugh and chatted for a few minutes before Ms Kaushal left and my mother continued her walkabout around CP.

I was reminded of this incident when I saw the calendar designed by the SIMC 2012 UG students, sitting at my desk. After seeing their handiwork, I know this for sure, that this is a really talented bunch of kids – not just these two, but the entire bunch. I am sure they’ll make a success of their lives. I have seen them perform on stage and they are quite simply amazing. And the ones who are taking it easy should kick themselves hard and clamber aboard, lest they get left!

Sometimes, I wonder why I take a personal interest in their future. But then I know it’s probably because, along with the SIMC 2011 PG batch, to which I taught a few subjects, this SIMC 2012 UG batch is one I took the entire journalism course with. Sometimes people and situations grow on you and you love it. Just like some people you meet who want to make you throw up, and the bitching and bullshit you encounter every day and desperately try to avoid.

The wonderful thing about kids (whether they are your own or someone else’s) is that they can make you forget everything – pain, troubles, pressures – and can overwhelm you with their affection, refreshing candour and enthusiasm. Whenever I meet students at the various campuses the warmth and affection from students overwhelms me. Like the use of the word f**k. As kids when we used the word, we ensured there were there were no elders within earshot. Today, even when I’m around, it rolls off the tongues of my students so easily, that it doesn’t seem like an expletive anymore. It makes me wonder what the fuss was all about earlier!

Once students from one of the institutes took me to the disco and I think they were surprised to see this greybeard shake a leg for a good part of three hours! On one occasion, another one of them screamed when she saw me approaching, ran up and hugged me! When I mentioned the incident to a 23-year-old student, she said, if someone her age had done that, there would have been a book written on it! Thank the Lord, for uncomplicated 18 year-olds!

So, here are a few pages of the desk calendar conceptualised and designed by the talented Shaan and Jay Dantara, with help from Mehernaz Jila and Nandan Sharalaya. The students who posed for the desk calendar are Urvi Bhanushali, Vibhuti Happa, Sanyukta Iyer, Trisha Satra, Akanksha Arya, Apoorva Sridhar, Nikita Gupta, Tejaswini Naik, Shaan, Pragya Singh and Ananditaa Iyer Singh.

The calendar sits on my desk at Lavale, autographed by Shaan and Jay. I just wish the others who graced each month had signed each page too!