08 September 2010

Off the beaten track

Thanks for following my blog.  I may not be able to write any new post until after I get settled in my new placement in an Elearning Company in Vadodara, Gujarat (India).  I look forward to joining an exciting team there.

See you in a few weeks' time from the historic city of Vadodara. Thanks once again. 

05 September 2010

Off the beaten track: Indian Film Music on Radia Australia .. nearly 40 years back!

This afternoon, the airwaves around our apartment, carried something exceptional: sound of a melodious song `Naan pesa ninaithadellaam nee pesa vendum ..' from one of the Tamil films released way back in '60s. [Although I am not particularly keen in films or film music, I do relish the sounds from the TV of my neighbour.  He could be about 10 years older than me and seems to like old film songs, almost all which were nonvulgar and full of good meaning].  My memory took me to 1969 when I used to listen to this very song and others, on Radio Australia in a programme known as Indian Film Music.  This radio programme used to be presented by Mr V M Chakrapani, who was a newsreader (on All India Radio) and a popular cricket commentator.  The programme used to air contemporary film songs in many Indian languages.  However, the programme did not last long.

I liked Radio Australia for its music content (They had excellent softrock programs). BBC World Service aired its own programmes, one of which was, `A Date with a Disc'. This was a 5 minute program before (or after?) their news bulletins.  VOA used to come out with `Now Music USA' with a lot of Afro-American, Blues and Country and Western songs (I prefer to call them `songs' not `numbers').  SLBC and Radio Malaysia  were also popular for their softrock content.  Back home in Madras, there were two channels of the Madras station of All India Radio on the medium wave: Madras 1 and Madras 2.  Western Music used to be broadcast on Madras 2 every evening from 5.30 to 6 PM.

More recently in the '80s, if I remember correctly, BBC World Service used to transmit a weekly programme known as `Vintage Chart Show' which contained songs of the '60s, '70s and '80s. 

While there were several other radio stations which used to broadcast western music, there were not many print based publications, except occassional articles and write ups in `Life' Magazine as far as I knew. In India, The Statesman of Calcutta introduced its `Junior Statesman' somewhere around 1968.  The magazine contained popmusic reviews, lyrics of famous songs, posters of pop musicians and of course articles.  We used to enjoy reading the magazine.  Those were the days.   

Teachers Day in India

This morning, Sreejith Karthikeyan sent the following message on facebook:

"I found guidance, friendship, discipline and love, everything in one person. And that person is you. “Happy Teachers Day”.

He is a very simple young man with excellent behaviour in his late ‘20s from Kollam, Kerala. He has a Master’s degree in Information Technology. He and I were colleagues at a Digital K-12 Materials Development Company.

Sreejith sent this message as this day is celebrated as Teachers’ day every year in India, in memory of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

My father, who belonged to the generation next to that of Dr Radhakrishnan, was a dedicated teacher and a headmaster; he passed away on this day in 1997. In the '60s and '70s, poor students across caste and religious barriers, used to stay in the front room of our house for nearly a month just before their school final Board exams. My mother would cook food for them as well when she cooked for us. She would also teach them lessons (I learnt all the rudiments of English language grammar and usage by listening to my mother's teaching using a grammar book written by Wren and Martin.  This book was very popular in those days). My father, an avid lawn tennis player, usually played lawn tennis in the evenings, by forming a small team consisting of himself, the local doctor, village adminstrative officer, etc. Sometimes, he would teach these people how to play tennnis and train them in the game. After playing for at least an hour he would come home. This was his daily routine, in whichever town or village he was posted. After dinner, he would sit for some time with the students to find out as to their progress in studies. At the end of the students' stay, when parents came to take their children back, they would try to offer small gifts (such as paddy), which my parents would politely decline. I vividly remember the brightness in the faces of students and parents, a brightness that reflected a high level of gratitude.  Those were the days when most teachers acted as role models and were respected.

I am not sure as to whether I really deserve Sreejith's nice compliments. What I am sure is that this inspiring message will instil more confidence in my work towards education for all in our global village. I adore youngsters like Sreejith. I wish I had a son like him. 

03 September 2010

Off the beaten track: To Koh Kong, Cambodia

It is nearly a year since I returned home after a year's stay in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (where I worked at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports). This morning when I went out for some shopping, I could not help comparing the road conditions of Chennai (where I live), Phnom Penh (where I was based) and Koh Kong (a Cambodian fishing town, which I used to visit on work). 

Cambodia Map
Koh Kong is the capital town of a province with the same name.  It is a small beautiful town and is situated at nearly the same latitude as that of Phnom Penh, Bangkok and Chennai. It is very near the border with Thailand. The people were friendly like in other places in Cambodia.

Although, being a vegetarian, I did have an actue food problem, I could get it sorted out without difficulty, thanks to Indian restaurants (particularly Taste Buds, Aman and Annam) in Phnom Penh, from where I used to order vegetarian food that could be stored in fridge for 3 or 4 days, before leaving for Koh Kong. Of course, fresh fruits were abundantly available in the market place as well as in departmental stores in Koh Kong itself, just like in any other Cambodian village or town, not to mention Phnom Penh with several departmental stores and restaurants, including KFC, an outlet of which was just across the street, from my office at the Ministry of Education.

I cherish my memory of an evening dinner that I had with my Cambodian colleagues in a stilt on River Tonle Sap that flows along the town.
Signboard to the town

Road to Koh Kong

Restaurants on stilts on Tonle Sap

About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.