Notes passed from and-to-and

Had to do a mini spring cleaning and came across lots of sentimentalia which ended the spring cleaning. Which is the whole point of sentimentalia. That it stops you in your purposeful tracks like a wistful lottery seller who accosted you on Monday morning and leaves you mooning .

I don't mind throwing out love letters. I have deleted folders of emails without the flicker required to make it even ruthless. But the things that slay me are those quickly written rude notes scribbled when you are vela or wished you were vela. There were notes from 18 years of bored-to-tears education and then the last few years of bland sunny-faced efficency which allows itself meanness in notepads thrust back and forth at Monday meetings.

I found some nasty chits recorded in a conference pad during a brief and fascinated visit to academia. They have the overlay of look-i-am-so-clever-ness because the puns made references to the essays and excerpts from major primary texts hastily read the previous week.  Some of them are rather brilliant inspired by the erudition of my Charlie's Angels who read and connected enough to make mortals quake. By then I had stopped calling this hasty literature  'chits' and had learned to call them 'notes' and were quite capable of making ignorant Doestovesky allusions.
In school of course  'notes' were what teachers gave you and chits are what you passed to Sujay about the talcum powder on Seetalakshmi Miss' left cheek.

In class 5 a porcupine-haired classmate decided to burst smoky sputtery red crackers in class. We had a 75 year old teacher who didnt seem to notice that we were breathless from laughter. I was astonished and no one ever explained how it all really happened. In class 9 Namita-from-Saudi (who was later arrested by the Australian police for kicking her landlady's cat) ate oranges in the front row with a blissful expression. Sure the oranges were in her desk and sure she popped them into her mouth when Mr. Chand was not looking but the smell that went from the first row to the last row where scary Aman sat. For years oranges smelt like rebellion and laziness and do-I-care-really-about-The Final Examination?

There is something of the same wild-eyed barely suppressed giggy quality to notes exchanged clandestinely at meetings and in classrooms. They never make any sense to anyone else and no one ever finds them funny other than you and your co-conspirators. But when Anjali (who married a boy with profile like a Greek coin) and I spent two whole hours of Sociology class writing rude couplets to each other we thought we were gods. "Someday they would write our biographies and these chits would be so useful," I thought.

After bumping into sentimentalia and feeling entirely unable to throw the chits out I looked around for books about clever-fella-note passing and saw some strange city lights.If you needed proof that the West will document anything and will upload everything here it is  and here. On a helpful and loony front is this list of suggestions on how to pass notes. 

Nice Hat. Thanks is a collection of poems by Matthew Rohrer and Joshua Beckman both wordsmiths and friends who transcribed their improvisations and word-play . Some of it is just a couple of lines and some of them run into a few pages. Rohrer and Beckman (unlike Anjali and me) were award-winning poets whose casual word-play is like Sanjeev Kapur's midnight snack. So while some of it seems self-indulgent and vague the rest is surprisingly interesting poetry

In terms of oho-aha moments the green wreath goes to a prim little essay about the note-passing etiquette of Japanese nobility. According to the starched and ironed Elizabeth Derby some of them wrote notes in tankas, short poems of 31 syllables each. " Many examples of such poetry survive today, but information about the context in which they were written and the author's personal circumstances can be limited."  You don't say sister.

She goes on to note that in a novel about a relationship between a cool dude and relatively paavum woman the cool dude is put out by her boring note writing style 'unable to get rid of its Chinese robes and wet sleeves.'  Elaborate conventions and high expectations attended these games stressing everyone out I am sure. Then why not write regular letters? Derby attributes it to the 'cult of beauty.' And yaay for the cult of beauty.

After a long vegetable stretch I went with Bottle Imp to an interesting lecture tafseer organised and came away happy. Bottle Imp and I are usually incapable of behaving like adults when together and recently distracted ourselves at a gathering (what is that word!!! what is one gathering? )by playing Name-place-animal-thing. At the lecture we came this close to exchanging notes but I was for once interested in what the speaker was saying. And what a loss because we could have written such clever notes.


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