Jolly & Lucky !

Wren & Martin sat on the desk with a weight that was well beyond what it weighed. This was the only pathway to a glorious land called ‘good English grammar’ ! For several years, teachers extolled the virtues of ‘word power’, ‘appropriate pronunciation’ and other linguistic gymnastics such as conversion of a sentence from ‘active voice to passive voice’ !

Verbs, nouns, conjunctions and such other rules were taught, learnt and ofcourse forced to wrestle with in ‘English-II’ exams, with such sincerity and fervour that an empty onlooker would have mistaken it for a something that was done with a strategic intent to redefine the geo-political reality of the country !

Several of you would argue that such English lessons have indeed crafted the geo-political might of the country. It is not without reason that we are the call centre capital of the world. An argument that you would buffet with evidence such as the number of Tata Indicas and Sumos ferrying young active minds at the dead of the night to answer calls from around the world.

Strategic geo-politics is a stratosphere away from this blog. Quite obviously this post is about something else.

During the days when when Wren & Martin lorded over the study table, there was this grocery store in the neighbourhood called ‘Shiva stores’. There i was, fresh from studying verbs et al and watching a Tamil epic called Thiruvilayadal.

Shiva stores?? To my young mind, it bordered on blasphemy to think that the great God who seemed to carry a serpent on his neck as a style statement, was reduced to some kind of a local warehouse manager !

‘What does Shiva store?’ was the question that was posed to the English teacher in the next class, in full view. The teacher’s arching eyebrows at its pinnacle could have touched some tall peak ! After a heavy heave of a breath and a tinge of a smile she announced , ‘The ‘stores’ in “Shiva stores” is a noun and not a verb’ .

She spoke with a flourish that could well be an exemplar of matriarchal tonality while the rest of the class laughed at the incredulity of the question and reveled in the supposed snub to an aspirant smarty pant.

Naturally, the tone, the collective laughter reverberated for a long time. The lesson stuck.

Walking a Mumbai road, one recent early morning ‘Jolly Tailors’ brought that teacher’s matriarchal tone zooming in from the wonder years. But not before the imagination ran riot. With a caricature of a James Bond look alike on the board, ‘Jolly’ the specialist in Mens wear, tingled with ‘possibility’.

Maybe there was ‘Jolly’ness as he took measured. Maybe there were a ‘fun’ tailoring outfit with great camaraderie and such else. Perhaps they made outfits for the menfolk that were ‘jolly’! Or perhaps their outfits made the men jolly or perhaps it gets the onlooker ‘Jolly’ !?!

When the mind was firmly entrenched in traveling some more distance on this ‘jolly’ road, was when the matriarchal voice boomed stressing the difference from nouns and verbs ! Announced with such incisive ferocity that the ‘jolly’ness scouted back into the frayed pages of the Wren & Martin that lies in the attic.

A few days later ‘Lucky’ came within eyesight . The imagination that ran riot with ‘Jolly’ men’s wear specialist, took ‘Lucky ladies tailor’ to a different height.

Well, it was too not long before the matriarchal voice returned.

9 thoughts on “Jolly & Lucky !

  1. 50 years ago, Wren and Martins still sat on my desk, but its didn’t stop me from stating in an essay that the “thieves were caught and taken to the “policy”…” (Miss Dewan, looked at me thru her pincenez, after reading out that sentence in class)

    Honestly, I didnt know then that sometimes “policies” and “thieves” would be connected in some way in some areas.

  2. aativas says:

    🙂 Like that ‘Sambaaajee Beedi’ made me think and laugh long ago. Now I am used to even Chatrapati Shivaji Airport 🙂

  3. Vikram Singh says:

    Jolly and Lucky, two Punjabi gentlemen, were both nouns and verbs. Thereby banishing and/or confusing English teachers from the Punjab.

  4. Insignia says:

    “linguistic gymnastics ” – I got bowled over by this phrase.

    I can recall many such English grammar classes. In one of the classes, my teacher wrote a statement on the board – “She ate her stomach fill”

    Enthusiastic to show our grammatical skills we corrected her – Shouldnt it be “full”

    There went a hour long lecture and mockery. :-S

  5. Neha says:

    I came across Jakas Family Restaurant today..and Vyapar will know about these in the next post maybe if I am done ranting 😛

    somehow, Wren and Martin never made to my desk reasons best known to me and unknown to my teachers..everyone referred to it!

    lucky is definitely luckier than jolly!

  6. Gone are those days when our minds were intensely curious. In retrospect, it truly is amusing.

  7. Aparna says:

    The Wren and Martin was my most prized possession. Unfortunately my children for some reason do not like it. They are more comfortable using their school textbooks, which in my opinion is complete trash.
    In our neighbourhood in Delhi, we had a Safedi Lal Dry Cleaners. Once the whites came back as purple. Who could blame him? He did try to warn us with his name.

  8. radha says:

    That was amusing. Aah, Wren and Martin – the Bible of our school days.

  9. Jeevan says:

    Looks like he’s lucky to be a ladies tailor! Lol. Good observation recalling verb and noun kavi 🙂

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