Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Poor Sods!!

Marking, is a strange thing. Knowing that the figure that your pen shall scratch out on the marksheets shall have an impact on someone's choices in their future is strange. To know that this person is hoping for a high mark in most cases and then also knowing that you could notch it up, if you like, makes this job not only tedious but something that involves a lot of thinking.

Combine this pressure with that of assessing works of Art / Design and Craft students. Where personal opinion and a touch of likes and dislikes which colour your decisions and therefore your marks. I like certains styles of work and dislike certain mediums, thus judging a piece of work made in the a way I dont like makes it tough for me to judge fairly.

Its all about getting a fair mark. It is also about judging fairly the effort made to work. So what do you do when personal prejudices and grudges against students show up? You can't always like the lazy one who does little work, skips lectures and whines about lack of support. On the other hand the one who lives in the library, does about 4 drafts of each piece of work and sits right up front in all lectures and seminars is hard to dislike.

There is yet another dimension. Meeting the eager beavers on the street and they tell you all about how hard they worked and how they hope this year shall get them better marks than last year and how they have sat and made plans of what to do next year. And how their parents are looking forward to their Graduation ceremony!!

Hmm! Poor sods, little do they know that when you mark 180 essays in a short period of time. The work becomes nameless and faceless. Personal opinions are hard to suppress in matters of art and design. So I guess its me and my marking...but....but...this is UK..we got to be fair..right? Every time? YES!!

Assessment is looked at by 3 different people for each piece of work, which means it is as fair as it gets. Then an independant marker shall compare notes and discuss reasons for disagreement over marks that may arise. Then marks are re-negotiated..and finally put down. This final mark is assesed by an external moderator who again thinks if its right or wrong. And then a mark is given which is written in stone. far as possible. There is however a possibility that the student can raise a complaint about it and get it looked at again.
Which means for people like me who teach and mark...every assignment is a painful long journey..dont know who the poor sods really or them!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Mayhem in here.

There seems to be a dual processor of sorts in my head. Its like Lewis Carrol's Wonderland in here...

Magnified sounds, thoughts about the new book I am writing for, the last chapter of the thesis, the milk thats nearly finished in the fridge, the need to buy a birthday card for my mum, the password I have set for my new email ID, sensations high - the prickly feel of the Indian sun, the spices that are burning right now, faces of people I met on the bus....
Random patterns, sounds and colours, smells and clarity, but no confusion either. Its just that I think faster than I can process the details of my thoughts.

So it was strange reading this...
'Wonderland is within. I'm hyperactive and insane: one thought leads to something ridiculously unrelated and never comes back to the first. My thoughts don't make sense, or comes back to the first. My thoughts don't make sense, or come to any conclusions or insights. And there's rarely one thought at once, there are layers of boring, repetitive, crazed snippets. I'm regurgitating memories, plans, information, music, movies, 'Friends' episodes, 'Dr Who' highlights and daydreams. It's mayhem in here.'
Sarah MacDonald - Holy Cow - An Indian Adventure.

Chop Chop!

Recipe straight off the horses mouth..the celebrity chef spouts recipe for green we go to buy the ingredients..and what? Someone states they cook better than me and gets started...
Out comes the blender, the colander, green chillies, garlic...

I am easing down on the sofa with a glass of red wine. Ahhhh!!! Bliss...a husband who can cook and knows the difference between a colander and coriander...ooooh!!!
Strange noise...huh?
Again..strange noise like some drill working in the house.

Needless to say the sound emanates from the Kitchen..a quick peek reveals green splatters on every surface in the kitchen..including him. Never mind..Sound - AGAIN!! what is it..
The chopper/grinder has died...after 8 years of faithful service..its been killed swiftly by the husband! Oh Dear!!
Can buy another hey! Never mind!

Glass of wine...sofa..i am back...
I hear *&%$!!! S*&T!!!
Now what?
Blood...everywhere...everywhere...someone has managed to touch the blade of the blender and run it at the same time...
finger chopped..blood and chutney everywhere..I add turmeric to make it clot...technicolour kitchen! cold water / ice cube/ turmeric....and a chef who aint feeling too good!!!

Oh Dear!!
Dare I this sorry figure splattered with green, blood streaming from his hand, glasses splattered with chutney..?
Yes I dare. I laughed. And Loudly too!
Cheers to the Mini Chef!!!

PS - Chutney was good!!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Walk Safe?

Working with criminals has its advantages, I am often unafraid of being mugged or caught at a point where I shall be asked for my mobile phone and wallet. But it also means I am more aware of people who look like trouble makers. This, I am not sure is a good thing or bad, as at most times I judge people by their appearance.
Okay... its not just the hoodies in the park that make me suspicious..its more than just that. And I know its discrimination. But I dont know if its fair to base your judgement on the 'road' by what you see at work!

Late last night as I walked home, I walked past a poorly lit park. Past a group of very drunk men and women who were trying to walk straight with pints of beer. My first reaction was, oh they are ok, there are women with them. And I was okay, but then I reflected on my reaction, is being accompanied by a female reason enough to be 'ok'? Are women safe? Or is it just an assumption that no decent woman would go out with a nasty knife weilding mugger?

I then walked past a small group of young men, who were dressed in floor kissing, ass revealing jeans, with studded belts baseball caps over their hooded sweatshirts. They seemed to be of a mixed race. I did not spend time staring at them. They were hanging around outside a 7/11 that sells alcohol. Their dress and body language told me to walk clearly past them, rapidly. No eye contact and no turning around.

Where have I learnt this discriminatory thinking and am I right in using it for my safety? From where does this survival / safety instruction journal come into my head. Surely its not just from working in a Prison or from typified media depictions of young offenders.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Teachings of an 80 yr old Aunt to a soon-to-be-married neice

This is between an 80 year of Aunt of mine and me a couple of days before the wedding...

80yr old Aunt - So now that you are marrying, always remember two things.
Me - What are those?
80yr old Aunt - In our times, we were not asked what we want and what we think and all that, but you are educated, have been on your own, lived abroad and have been working, so you have learnt a lot from being around a bit. The fact that you are This old also helps in a way....
Me - Do I hear a 'but' there?
80yr old Aunt - I suppose yes, I think you should remember two things, which will ensure happiness and peace in your house. The idea is to keep him happy, if he is happy, he will make you happy, and thats the whole point of being married.
Me - and those two things are?..??...
80yr old Aunt - Always remember he is smarter than you, he is older (yes he is by 3 days) and thus wiser, he is the man and needs to be in control, dont show him you know better, dont prove it either by doing it right. Let him think he has taught you all you know and follow him. So the first point is understanding who is the boss, and that the boss is always right.
The other thing to remember is, he might say things you dont like, always remember to keep quiet. God gave you a sharp tongue but also the 32 teeth in front of it, to keep it in control. If he says nasty things, keep quiet. Dont talk back and dont ever fight.

Needless to say this was going to be one long lecture. I shall not bore you with the details. However the bottomline thought was, if he did want to marry someone who does not have brains, the ability to use the brain, and communicate via using the tongue...he would not have gone for me. If I am to listen to this wisdom, I should change my name to 'COW'...

Me - But if there is something to disagree about, dont you think i should speak up, gently but let my thoughts come out and then he will know what makes me happy and unhappy.
80yr old Aunt - He would know na. He does not want to make you unhappy anyways. So he will figure it out. Just remember he wants the best for you, he looks like a wise man and he will make you happy, you just need to keep quiet.

And then came the Pearls...
80yr old Aunt - Men like to think they are smart and they are the boss, we all know who rules the house anyways and its not them. Just dont go around publishing the fact in the papers, do what you want quietly and get your way without discussions. By displaying no ability to think, you will fool him into thinking you dont have a brain, so when you do something smart occasionally, he will listen to you and appreciate you. Men are NOT smart..just remember to not let them know that you know this.

Me - (thinking quitely) does she know she is a type of feminist, should I enlighten her or apply her teachings and keep quiet?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lessons Learnt from Getting Married

The past month was long and tiring. But one of the happiest in my life. I got married and despite having attended a million weddings I think I was not prepared for the following:
- People staring at you, like constantly.
- Photographers are way more irritating than they seem
- Its endless advice about what to wear, how to walk, talk and eat
- Long lectures about how to keep your in-laws happy
- Longer lecutures about how to be an obedient wife (!!!)
- Unasked for advice about hair and makeup and dress
- Innumerable requests for photographs with people
- All children gravitate towards the bride
- Shoes, no matter how expensive hurt eventually
- Jewellery gets stuck, very badly, in embroidery
- Make up makes you look thin and then people think you dieted for the wedding
- Flames in the fire for the wedding go very high if you dont watch it
- You see friends and family you are dying to get around and mingle with, but you cant!
- Tiredness is killing, no matter how much you rested
- Sentiments run high, and no matter how hard headed or hearted, or WILL cry
- As much as you do enjoy your own wedding- you WILL be glad when its done and dusted

I sound like an ungrateful wench...I am not really. Its just that attending a wedding as a guest was SO very different from being the one with the spot light on!! I promise to be MUCH nicer to who ever gets married next!!!

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Existence of peace,
lack of silence.
not alone anymore.
Dreams of peaceful serenity,
prayers of happiness,
wishes of good luck and longetivity.

Asleep in my dreams,
I wake up to silence,
and turn to see,
the face of peace and comfort.
Alone in my thoughts,
but aware of the presence.
The comfort of love,
and the arms of happiness.

Its the end of the phone,
the email and skype.
Its the end of phone cards,
and changing clocks to work out time.
To wonder and wander,
and think and wish.
Curse the distance,
and wish for wings.

Not alone,
not anymore.
Thanks! to the Powers that be!