Apr 25, 2011

The Singing Mizo

Recently, after coming late from a funeral, I sat quietly and suddenly blurted out to my roommate.

"No wonder Mizo's sing well. We sing at weddings, funerals and every single social meeting. We literally sing every time we meet!"

My roomate shrugged " Really? "

I got all excited. "Especially when we wait overnights for funerals, we sing through the whole night!"

She looked up from her laptop, quizzed her brows, " Really?? I thought you guys just sat there quietly, you know, with the dead body and all."

And she sounded more appropriate. Staying overnight with a dead body with the youth singing the whole night?? It seems more like a celebration.

A friend of mine once joked about how we, Mizos wish and greet each other. A handshake for each and every occasion, be it good or bad. It doesn't matter if it's a wedding or a funeral, a handshake is appropriate for every single occasion. I remembered my dad greeting me with a handshake when I went home for my mother's funeral. He also greeted me with a handshake when we met after I finished my master's degree. I, on the other hand, greeted an old friend whom I haven't met since high school, when I met him at his sis-in-laws funeral recently. So I thought, maybe, it's the same case with singing. We sing when we're sad, when we're happy, when we are in love, when we fall out of it, we sing when we meet, we sing when we part, we sing pretty much all the time. The Mizo life looks like one big musical. No wonder we are known for our singing! And it doesn't matter if we're mediocre at it.

But of course, there will always be exceptions like a close friend of mine who once declared "Zai hi chu Pathianin min kohna ani lo tih ka chiang e". And true to his words, I have never heard him hit a right note with a single song. And yet, that doesn't stop him from participating in the choir occasionally. Wait, I believe  he lip-syncs with the choir!! He doesn't attract stares that way. Sometimes, I wish it could be the same when he sings off key at funerals and get-togethers. What can I say? He is a Mizo, just born with the wrong vocal cords!!

And tonight, as I punched these words into my keyboard, I don't even feel like talking to my roommate. Why? Because, today is an Easter Sunday and I just got back from a series of services filled with singing, singing and more singing. Just the church service had four different choirs, including the children's choir. And I had to go and be part of three of them. I know, I just sound overboard. But let me confess, I'm a Mizo. **Read: I love singing**.

And to sign off, here follows a picture taken a few years back from an Easter service here in Delhi. It has been doing it's rounds in Facebook for a couple of years now! Now that is what I call "The Singing Mizos." 

Competing with a yawning Hippo????

Apr 19, 2011

Can't you just adore her?

A song by Mandy Moore goes like this...

She likes chocolate in the morning
She drinks her coffee late at night
You can sense that she is guarded
But that's alright
She'll fall asleep while your still talking
With unfinished books beside her bed
She'll cancel all of her appointments
And go shopping instead

And in spite of what is right
Far beyond what she'd except
When the moon begs the question
Will you have the answer yet?
Can't you just adore her?
Can't you just adore her?

She loves to watch the sunset
But she is partial to the rain
With those tears and that umbrella
Her allure goes unexplained
You made dinner in your apartment
You both assume that she'll be late
She always has the best intentions
Her goodness is innate

And in spite of what is right
Far beyond what she'd except
When the moon begs the question
Will you have the answer yet
Can't you just adore her?
Can't you just adore her?
Why can't you just adore her?

I like chocolate in the morning
I drink my coffee late at night 

The first time I listened to this song, I thought I could be the woman that the song talks about. And needless to say, I fell in love with it. 

But today, as I listened to this song while attempting to cook chicken in my uncle's hole of a room, a friend of mine popped into my head. Our very own Mapuii whom we lovingly christened 'Lalgo-i' just because she's exactly the woman that the song talks about. Yes! precisely to the 'innate goodness' and the 'unfinished books beside her bed' bit. And it's surprising how different she and I are, in our own little worlds, when the song could talk about both of us with all of our uncanny nature. It kept me shifting my thoughts to another friend to yet another friend. I soon realized that this song fits for every single one of us. 

So, this song is for all the less-than-perfect women who somehow always have the best intentions in their hearts. These women and I, with our clumsiness and our imperfect nature, deserved to be loved and adored just the way we are! Yes, with flawed bodies and all!!

And so the question remains...

O Sons of Adam, can't you just adore Her?

Apr 14, 2011

From the mouth of babes.

I've always been a fan of kids ever since I was 11. Why? At that age, I would bathe, clean up, feed (with a bottle, dum dum!), dress and put my new born cousin to sleep while my aunt was recovering from child birth. And that baby cousin just passed his Matriculation. Sigh!!!.  Aunts would call me over to babysit my infant cousins whenever I have school holidays. In fact I was so booked that my mother would complain about me staying with my aunts to babysit. Then, a day finally came when she wouldn't allow me to go stay over at my aunts. With a firm "No" she added, "You are my only daughter and I will not allow you to look like your aunts' awmpui."

The fascination with caretaking babies and young kids stayed intact through the years. I was usually the cousin sister that my younger cousins would look up to. There was a time when two of my kid cousins were such big fans that they'd come over every single day. When questioned why, they'd answer "U Seni bulah chuan thil kan ei deuh reng a, kan zai deuh reng bawk a". These lovely boys would be my bodyguard when I was preparing for my 12th exams. They'd stand guard at my door for hours and hours with their toy guns lest 'misualhovin an tibuai palh ang'.

My interest with kids grew as I began teaching in Sunday School during my first year in college at Shillong. I loved my first and second batch of 8 year olds and my batch of 14 year olds I taught when I was in Final year.

My favorite and most cherished summer during college was when I and two close friends went to teach at a mission school which a friend of ours headed. This little mission school was situated in a little Bodo village called Patkijuli at the Indo-Bhutan border. In fact, Bhutan was so close that the border gate was just 15 minutes walk from the school. I had a great time teaching primary kids English Grammar, Cursive writing and Social Sciences. It was interesting and also a challenge teaching these kids who would say

"Miss, pencil me no hab"

"Miss, book me no bring"

"Miss, Toilet please to go"

After a month, we had to leave. I cried while doing so. I don't know to what extent or if I've helped them at all, but my summer with the children at that school did help me find my passion... teaching young kids.

After I came to Delhi to pursue a Master's degree, I shamelessly asked a friend who taught in Sunday School if I could also do the same. I was welcomed and it was one shameful thing I've asked which I sure don't regret till today.

If you'd ask me why, my Sunday School kids are those who kept me sane through my M.Phil years. They are my best stress-buster weekends and the reason I keep control of myself. They keep me in check and I make sure I don't let go of myself and am always level headed because I know that I have to be a role model for my 50 kids in Sunday School. Teaching them had me make sure that I don't stray far from the Bible, keep my spirituality intact and tread my everyday with careful steps.

There are times when parents would come up to me and thank me for taking care of their kids. Then I'd be humbled. Because I, in return, learn so much from these kids.

And I tell you teaching in Sunday School comes with its perks. Because of the mouth of babes...

A teacher in Primary Dept. once asked a student who is the most beautiful person in the world. That kid quipped "U Zuali" without batting an eyelid. This same kid always made sure I join his siblings' outing at the zoo or the park. And his kid brother tells his family that U Zuali is his Chhianpa. There is this cute chubby girl in Beginners Dept. who always shares her lipgloss with me 'cause she doesn't like it when my lips are dry. This same kid tells me I look good in white. And nothing in this world would boost your confidence and self esteem more than the compliment of a 6 year old who, with her round eyes and out-of-breath tiny voice, tells you are 'the kindest and prettiest big girl ever'.

It's been four years since I've started teaching in Sunday School here in Delhi. And I've realized, I've watched my kids grow through my FB albums. But I still find joy each time I step foot into the Sunday School Hall after a long hard week, to these kids who waved at me, giving me their toothless smiles or sharing their latest Justin Bieber crush with me. My heart warms each time the 6 year old Ruati thrusts yet another new lipgloss in my hands; each time 3 year old Feli calls me Zuali instead of U Zuali; each time the 12 year old Hlui stands next to me to make sure she's already grown taller than me and each time the 14 year old Benjamin tells me that Barca FC had a late night match and makes him lose sleep.

Being with these kids gives me shelter, a comfort corner and a passion that my heart burns for! I hope I never forget and never let go of this one thing.

And to my wonderful mini-mentors...

I hope I always carry the innocence that you carry in your hearts, 
The fascination with which you view the world through,
 The zeal you renew each single morning, 
The wonder you hold at each new thing learnt,
 The grudge you never hold and 
The excitement with which you face life every single day. 

Apr 12, 2011

Old Soul still Young at Heart!!

Four years ago, my conversation with people I met in campus usually starts like this...

"So, your centre?"


"Which Semester?"


"So, how's Coursework?"


"Oh! Sorry. Your synopsis?"


"Aren't you in PhD??"




"You can't be in MA!!??"

**He looked back and realized he was already talking to himself**

I know! It's not something getting pissed over. But it's not exactly the best thing when people assume you're in PhD when you've just started your Master's degree.

It's worse when apologies quickly follow with a hurried "But you're so matured". Eyes flickering. 

"PREVARICATOR!!!" I'd scream. Silently.

I know, I know. I shouldn't be too hard on them. I was already under suspicion that I was an old soul ever since I passed out High School. A chirped "I rilru hi a hlui eee" from a very close friend was all it took to confirm my suspicions in college.

Looks wise, ever since high school, I have always been on the heavier side. And unfortunately, I inherited my paternal grandpa's dusky skin tone. Well, my grandpa, in his time, was known as the tall, dark, handsome youth in his village. And his two sons and I equally divided his epidermal qualities between us. My uncle is tall, my dad is handsome and I am ... dark. Sigh!! Genetics is just no friend of mine!

Hiding behind thick myopic glasses, pulled back hair and no makeup-look didn't do wonders in telling people your real age. Being in a friendship circle with an average age of 7 years+ your age didn't help either. So I guess, my seniors in campus who usually think I'm older, are justified in that way.

But hey! I am not that boring of an old soul either. I chatter, I chirp and I still am always ready to learn new things. Yes! My most recent pride is my conquest on riding a bicycle. And I sport battle scars to prove that I still don't give up. It still feels like butterflies when I see my man and also like the end of the world when I have a tiff with him. I can still talk for hours with my teenage Sunday School kids discussing about converse shoes and Justin Bieber. I still fight with them over Jacob Black and Edward Cullen. And yes! I've recently discovered Bruno Mars!!  I will dance on a street if I feel like it and most of the time, I am still a late riser. Yep! Rising up late is a sign that your digits are still less. Aunty Jane of Tagore International School told me so.

But do I really need to prove myself that I am still young at heart?? Age is just but a number, right? I keep telling myself that.... or so!

But it doesn't hurt either when an old family friend I met after ages, asked me if I've graduated. When answered, he quipped "Really?? You still look like you're in college!"

Maybe he knows how to compliment a woman.
Maybe he's telling the truth.
Maybe it's my new haircut
Maybe it's my makeup with which I spend months to master
Maybe it's the way I carry myself
Maybe he's just a plain old liar.

But it sure doesn't hurt! It sure just doesn't hurt!

Apr 8, 2011

Full Name Basis

So I was on Facebook chat when all of a sudden, a chatbox popped up.

'I dam em'

I realized my lips slowly curled up to smile. Full name basis!

We all know what it means to be on first name basis. But why is it so comforting for me to be in full name basis with someone?

It all goes back to green uniforms. Way back before Gatsby super hard gels. In our big classrooms with little furnitures, our teacher would call out our names just like the way we were officially named. And it caught on. Cause that's how we first came to know each other. On full name!

I finished high school with a majority of these people I called with full name. But after we graduated, we all moved on. 

Fast forwarding to five years after high school, I came to Delhi  to pursue a master's degree.

And suddenly, the 'Lalrinzuala' I used to share a lunch box in Second Grade was 'Mazuala'; the 'H. Lalnundiki' I used to sing with in Sunday School wouldn't turn untill you call her 'Madiki'. And 'Esther Vanlalruati' would sure get offended if I call her like that. Who's to blame, cause, there's no more 'Esther Sailo' who'd also look your way if you just use a first name!

Needless to say, there are a bunch of people I am on full name basis with. These are the people I've known since my first set of green uniforms and leaky lunch boxes (Was Tupperware in production then?). We all knew who cried the loudest at a teacher's cane, who lost bladder control at some point, who was the smart kid and who'd beat up a girl in class on a daily basis. We knew each other before we discovered make-up or hair gel, or the attraction with the opposite sex.

We knew each other during the awkward adolescence, when pimples and oily face was a plague, when boy bands were the center of our existence and back when the shape of our calves was the biggest problem in the world. We grew up knowing each others' imperfections and yet accepted and acknowledged each others' existence through the years.

We all know that there are some friends in life, who got seasoned with care, affection and good action. But I must say, nothing can beat friends who are but seasoned with time. And for me, those are my Full Name Basis people!

So when 'Robert Renthlei' messaged me on Facebook this morning, my mind clicked

 'Robert Lalhruaikima' Of Kulikawn. 

Lest I confuse him with 'Robert Lalchungnunga', another Robert I am on full name basis with!


So after almost a month of internet problems with MTNL, I'm back.

What a relief! I've been spending the last four weeks on complaint phone calls which were entertained strictly verbally!! With busy weeks, synopsis preparation, badminton games, cycling lessons (Yes!! I've finally done it), choir practices for the upcoming Resurrection weekend, I hardly have the time to go bomb the MTNL office in person.

But a friend of mine taught me a trick.

So last evening, when I picked up the phone to complain (the third time in a day) I subtly expressed my 'desire' to cancel my connection.


A phone call came from the office even before I woke up this morning. And fifteen minutes later, my internet light blinked for the first time in weeks. And here I am, furiously typing away, happy to get connected yet mourning for the lost weeks!

I must never forget.... I live in India!