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.