Thursday, June 29, 2006

Blog on Learning disabilities and teaching

In the past 3 years I have gained considerable amount of knowledge in the process of job search and information regarding teaching opportunities in the US. However, it was not easy as I had to struggle through my way finding more about the legal aspects of getting employed in different states and the formalities which I needed to complete.

The fact that you are not a citizen of the US makes things harder for you and you need to research more while looking out for jobs or for pursuing any academic stuff. It is a tedious process and one needs a lot of resources and information. As I am once again going through the process of job search, I have decided to share the information on my other blog for the benefit of other teachers like me.

All my blogs will be focussed on helping aspiring teachers, suggestions on effective teaching practices, laws, regulations in the field of teaching and some of my research articles.
You can also find a direct link to my other blog on the right hand side titled "Learning disabilities".

See you there !

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Conspiracy in the wedding mandapam

smiling brides
Originally uploaded by swapna bolleboina.
Date: June 14th 2006,
Time: 9:35 am
Venue: Arya Vysya Yuvajana Kalayana Mandapam, Secunderabad,India
Event : Wedding: Swapna weds Ramdhan Yadav

The begginning of a new chapter: After a lot of contemplation, convincing of our elders, rethinking, understanding each other and working together, we were able to tie the knot on June 14th. My nervousness started way ahead of the D-day. I was quite excited. But, more than the excitement, I was very nervous of how things would go on the special day.

Just like my previous visit to India, I had only 3 weeks to settle everything. The first week was spent solving the visa appointment mystery and my visit to Mumbai to get my visa stamped. I had just enough time to distribute invitations and finish my shopping in the second week. By the second week, I already fell sick twice, had got a lot tanned (I was not concerned about it until my relatives and family members kept reminding me how dark and emaciated I looked before my wedding) and exhausted from shopping.
By the third week, I decided to slow down and just relax. It was also time to get ready for one of the most important days of my life. It felt nice to be pampered by my family members and cousins. I was on house arrest for at least 2 days before the wedding. The rituals had already started. At times I complained, got irritated, mocked at them but at the end had to follow them. I was watching my diet closely so that I would not look overweight but still ended up looking a little puffy faced.
I decided to avoid eating sweets and to also visit the doctor. I got medication for my viral infection (this was a direct result of me neglecting my mom's advice and not taking proper care of myself).
I started feeling much better with the medication and was ready for the wedding day. I was very anxious about everything. How am I going to look? Will many people turn up for the wedding? I hope Ram's ok. What if it rains heavily? Well, we still will not be effected but if people don't turn up then? Gosh! everyone will be watching me. How am I supposed to act? Too many questions were running in my mind. Just before the day of the wedding, the groom and his relatives had arrived. That evening the wedding plan was completely changed. I was now expected to arrive at the venue early in the morning on the wedding day for the "pradhanam" and "nalugu" ritual. Though Ram and I belong to the same community and are both Andhrites, our rituals differ slightly due to regional differences. For " pradhanam", the groom's side invites the bride before the wedding, gifts her with saris, cosmetics, flowers, and everything needed for her. After the bride changes her clothes into the ones gifted to her, all the family members come and bless her by dropping rice grains (akshintalu).

After that both the bride and the groom are brought on to the stage for the pre-bath ritual (nalugu). The relatives and family members come on to the couple one by one bless them and apply nalugu (mixture of turmeric, legumes, herbs). As soon as we were done, we had only 30minutes to get ready for the wedding. Gosh! I hardly had time to get dressed up. I was literally running up and down the hall searching for my things, getting myself tensed and making my aunts run all over the place. While, I was still not ready, the priest announced the bride to come down to the mandapam (altar). Oh no! I was still struggling with my sari and confusing my aunt who was trying to help me. My other aunt who is a beautician rushed to me to help me get ready. I was so relieved to see her. "Well, I hope I will look good at least for some time," I said to myself. She started working on my face while my aunt was helping me with the sari. Meanwhile, I yelled at my sister to pack all my stuff. My cousin was trying to search for the hairpins while I was looking for my bindis. My brother rushed in to tell us to hurry up. The photographers followed him and started taking pictures. I was not amused at their sight and paid no attention to them. I am pretty sure they have been in such situations several times and know how to deal with them. They constantly nagged the me and everyone who was helping me out. "Madam just one step back. Good! Ok Madam! Can you please tilt your head slightly? Great! Thanks Madam! I was getting very irritated and was worried about reaching the mandapam as early as possible. It took another 10 minutes for me to be ready when Mallik Uncle (a very good photographer and family friend of ours) came into the scene. " I found a very nice spot to take some pictures. You will look so gorgeous. Trust me. Let us go there," he said in a very excited tone. "Well, uncle I don't have time. The priest is not going to wait so long. I need to hurry down", I said hurriedly wearing my sandals. “Please, I won’t take more than 2 minutes of your time. Believe me. These pictures would come out soo good,” he tried convincing me.

After about 5-8 minutes of stunts, I hurried down the stairs and got onto the mandapam. All the rush and the urge to make it to the altar before time made me forget my fear. I sat down prepared for the priest to chant all the mantras and hymns so that we could tie the knot in the brhamamuhurtam. The priest kept giving me instructions while I followed him closely. It wasn't that difficult a task. However, once I relaxed, I started feeling conscious that I was the center of focus now. Wow! I started feeling nervous and made sure I kept looking down. " Madam, please look this way and tilt your head slightly", I turned my head and saw 4 photographers who were trying to take pictures of me and Ram. Ram was like an obedient kid who posed as they said. I did follow them for some time but soon lost my patience. I had been given instructions (rather warnings) by my mom to be effeminate; not to laugh loudly, not to yell but talk in a low tone to walk slowly, and etc. I was trying really hard to follow them but now I was kind of loosing my control, as I had to pay more attention to the photographers than to the priest. I continued following their directions for another 3 minutes and then gestured one of them to come close to me. " Excuse me Sir, but please can you wait for some time. I will pose for you as long as you want after the wedding, but for now let me do as the priest says", I said to the chief photographer in a very assertive voice. “Ok Madam!”, said the photographer, but one last pose Madam, please! After some time you will look sweaty and might loose your charm," he said, "So please allow us to take some pictures for another 1minute. We promise we wont disturb you later", he pleaded. I agreed. After, that they made sure not to disturb me but moved everyone else around me to get good pictures.
I tried to concentrate on what the priest said and tried to enjoy the whole experience of getting married. To be frank, it was wonderful! I was thanking God every moment. I was so happy and couldn't believe myself. Every now and then I would try to lift my head and smile at the first person I would make eye contact with. Pretty soon my aunt came close to me and whispered something into my ears. " Do not smile. You look very silly when you smile. Be serious. Got it?” she said in a very serious tone. "Ok", I said and tried to fix my eyes down. But why am I not supposed to smile? This is my wedding after all. Am I not supposed to be happy? Gosh! How silly", I complained. Any ways, I was trying real hard to stay composed and not get excited. I controlled my smile by trying to engross my self in staring at the priest’s hands, his mouth and the microphone. Oh no! I couldn't stop smiling. Every time the priest chanted the mantras, he made a funny face and his mouth was so animated. In fact I wanted to laugh loud. He looked so funny. "Nooooo!, I am not supposed to smile", Grrrrr... "Stupid woman! Why are you making a fool of yourself"? I yelled at myself and tried to remain composed. This time, I stared at the rice and the dried coconuts used by the priest and followed whatever he said.

My parents were washing Ram's feet as part of the Kanyadaan ritual. He was facing the audience with his back towards me. I wanted to see him as a groom. 15 minutes later, the priest had asked Ram to turn to my side and had also instructed me to stand. I was so happy to see him and smiled. He smiled back and whispered something. Even before I could remember what he said, I found my sister pressing my shoulders and leaning close to me and warning,” Stop smiling honey, you are supposed to be serious right now. Focus and DO NOT Smile,” She had squeezed my shoulders so hard that it was much easier for me not to smile. I became serious and kept looking down.

So far I was all by myself but now I had a big distraction.” Ram"!. He was so lively on the mandapam and tried everything to make me smile. He pinched me, asked me if I was ok, told me to move a side and kept talking to me. At times he would make faces at me and it was sooooooo hard for me not to smile. Whhhhhaaaat..... Should I do nowwwww.......! Well, I guess I should enjoy my wedding, thinking so I smiled at him and was again in my jovial mood only to be disturbed by my other aunt. Dear, listen to me. Do not keep smiling like a lunatic. You look so foolish right now. People will make fun of you. Just stop smiling. Ok dear. I hope you will try harder this time, " she warned me and left.

Wow! Third warning in a row. Ok fine. I am not going to smile. Even if someone farts, even if someone sneezes, even if hell breaks loose, I am not going to smile. I decided and tried so hard not to. I was getting good at it when the photographers started interfering again and this time instructed me to smile and pose in different ways. Well, now it was difficult for me to smile. Smile? Or not to smile? I could see my aunts and my sister staring at me seriously from a distance. Well, better not to smile. The warning did help me control myself.

However, they were making Ram restless. " Are you Okay? he whispered turning to me. "Yeah ", I said. I made sure my head was down and my lips made very light movements to avoid another warning. " Why are you so serious", he asked me. " You are not supposed to talk right now", I said to him and started ignoring him. I was pretty sure everyones' eyes were on me watching me closely and waiting to warn me another time. When time cam for Ram had to tie the taali (a yellow thread with a turmeric root tied to it which the groom ties around the bride with 3 knots), I was so happy that I could not stop smiling and did not bother about anyone. It was a great feeling and I knew that all this time, I was waiting for this asupicious moment.

Ram was his usual naughty self. After tying the three knots, he made it a point ot pinch me and provoke me. Grr... I stared at him while he gave me a naughty smile. I coouldn't do anythign but remain serious. After that, we had to go through the talambraalu session. This is actually the most fun part of the wedding. The bride and the groom shower each other with rice, confetti and the thermocall balls. Sometimes, it is a competition between the bride and the groom as to who does it faster and who does it more number of times. We both were very excited. Ram's aunt was provoking him to drown me in those heaps while I was preparing myself mentally to topple all her plans. As per the instructions of the priest, Ram showered me with rice. And then it was my turn. The first 3-4 times we had to do it slowly. After that we did not have any rules or regulations. Each side could pour as much as they can. Ram took the opportunity to pour whole 2 heaps of rice on me. I was about to do the same and grabbed a huge heap of rice. But I was unable to life my shoulders. My aunt and my sister held me tightly while my sister came closer to me and whispered," Slowly.... you don't have to follow him. Be like a girl ". Gosh! All my plans are ruined now. AAHHHHHHHHH........ For God's sake, this is my wedding. Am I not supposed to be the way I want to be? I yelled within myself. But needless to say, I just followed what they said. I kept my head down, smiled very less and did everything slowly and in a very delicate way. This continued for a few minutes and then after a while I realized that my aunt and my sister were missing. Well, anyways, everything was over by then. At last, my sister and my aunts succeeded in making me look sober.

After everything was over, we had to be seated on the podium beside each other while everyone came to wish us and give us some gifts:)). Any ways, while I was moving towards my seat, my sister caught me for few minutes. While trying to straighten my bindi and my hair she started talking to me in a low voice, " So what was so funny that made you smile so many times? In spite of the warnings you were smiling ha?," she said mockingly. "Yeah, Ram was trying to make me smile. So what should I do? I was unable to control it", I said. "Ok..Ok Now go and get on to that seat over there," she said brushing off my words.

I was a little upset. So now I have to give an explanation for smiling on my wedding? How crazy is that? Hmm... So stupid. I just don't care what others are thinking. I care about myself...., all these thoughts kept flowing in my mind when I was called to sit beside Ram. I followed what was said. People poured in to bless us. They gave us presents and posed with us for photographs. This time I made sure I smiled at everyone I saw. In between I kept looking for my sister and my aunt to see if they were watching me but no one bothered.
Yahoo! At last... , I thought to myself. Now I was making eye contact with all the guests and talking to them. At times, I spotted my friends and pointed them to Ram. We both smiled at them and invited them to pose for a photo. Slowly I became more excited and started using higher tones for talking, laughing and even calling some of my friends among the guests. Ram did not have any objections but soon I found my sister wandering around me. Oh God.. Give me a break. I said to myself. Why can't a bride be as lively as the groom? "Ha..I don't care. I am just gonna be myself." , I said to myself. Pretty soon, I found myself enjoying meeting people and also getting tired of the whole sitting-standing-smiling-posing thing.
Though I had no one to monitor my boisterous behavior, I had mellowed down by then. "Are you alright? Do you need something to drink or eat?” said Ram in his usual concerned tone. " No thanks, I am ok", I said. Well, all's well that ends well.

At the end of the day I was glad the way things went and continued meeting the guests and posing for pictures.

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