Sunday, November 29, 2009

A day that went bad...

It was an autumn rainy day several years ago. Little children were approaching the school eager to see each other, talk, and laugh. Mothers were walking with their kids, holding them with one hand and the umbrella with the other, trying hopelessly to survive the muddy paths going to 8th School “Vasil Levski”.
This morning Rumi had almost stayed home because she just couldn’t make her eyes open. Her mother, on the other hand, did not agree with her daughter and made her get up and dress. She was in a hurry so she did not have much time to wake up and she and her mother rushed from their apartment. On their way to school, they stopped at the small market, just next to the big boulevard, as every day, to buy Rumi a chocolate bar and water for school. Then they too started to make their way through the mud and the rain.
When Rumi was finally in the nice, warm, clean, and most importantly- dry school, she looked through the hallways looking for her classroom because as usual, she couldn’t find it. This time, however, she ran into Martin. He told her that today they were in a classroom on the second floor because of some movement of schedules. Actually, Rumi didn’t even listen to the explanation: who needed to know why, when she was going to spend the day on the second floor, where the grown up students were and it was so cool.
She went into the classroom and she saw all of her friends running, laughing, and shouting. She joined them in a second. It was so exiting to meet them after the long weekend. Of course, as any other curious kids would do, they started to go over the school stuff in the cupboards and on the shelves. There were books, maps, all kinds of things that fascinated the children. During all this mess, Rumi turned her attention to the cupboard on the bottom, which no one had opened yet. She looked in it and she saw a lot of big bottles with strange names on it. She took one and started to explore it. It said “…. Detergent”. That is when Rumi remembered her mother using that word about a mixture she cleaned their bathroom in. She decided the bottle is filthy and toxic. She was just about to put it in its place, when Jack, who was in a fight with Tom, pushed Sally, who pushed Pam, who pushed Rumi, who spilled the whole bottle on the wooden floor…


Ms. Ani Nowal was having a tuff day from the moment her alarm went on. First of all, in her desperate attempts to put it off she fell of the bed. That was not the best way to wake up but it did the job quite well. Making herself coffee was the next ritual Ani got mixed up that day. She made it so fast that when she poured it in her mouth she not only spit it all up (because it did not taste good) but she burned her tongue and stained her shirt. After 20 more minutes she was finally changed, clean, and (unfortunately) ready to go.
As Ms. Nowal was walking to the bus stop she was thinking of the day ahead of her. There was a Talent Show in school that day and she had only one period with the 4th graders she taught. She was going to do much more important things during the rest of the sunlight hours. Her wedding was in a month after all.
Ani still could not believe how perfectly she managed everything with the preparation of her special day. She was really crazed about all the organization of the ball room, catering, flowers, music band, guests, and most importantly, her very own, unique wedding dress. Mark, of course, was so helpful and supportive for the last six months, he was always calming her down and caring about her. After all that was his job in the case because Ani would not let him meddle in any other way. Anyway, she got almost everything fixed and booked, and now it was just her dress waiting for her in the store. This was the problem though. She had found the perfect wedding gown on the internet but she didn’t have time to see and try it. The shop worked only until noon and she was working every day until 4 p.m.
She loved her job and she was very content to work with kids. However, she really needed a break. She would take one week-off for her honeymoon but she could not afford to miss even one day before that. That is why when she heard about the Talent Show in the school and she saw an opportunity to get away. She immediately booked an appointment with an assistant at the wedding store. She now realized that in less than an hour she will be on her way to buying her dream dress.
Floating in her thoughts, Ani came back to reality and casually looked at her watch. In an instant she jumped off her seat and almost screamed: she was going to be very late. Fortunately, the school was on the next stop and she quite literary flew from the bus and ran until she reached the campus. She was ten minutes late which meant the kids were left alone in the new classroom that the dean had assigned for them yesterday. Ms. Nowal was worried that they were very loud and could have disrupted the work of the other teachers and the last thing she wanted today was to have any problems that could force her to stay in the school for more than thirty minutes. Well, she didn’t know what was expecting her…
As she was going up to the second floor she heard noisy laughter which all of a sudden turned into screams. Ms. Nowal hoped that the bad feeling she had in the bit of her stomach was not going to turn out to be true. Very soon, the answer to her own worries came when Tony and Pam, followed by the rest of the class, ran out of the classroom holding their noses and making strange faces. Now Ms. Nowal’s fears turned into panic: “’What happened? Is everyone allright?!’” As soon as the kids saw their teacher they ran towards her each of them shouting something, trying to explain what was going on. She did not even listen to them. She was counting them. After she was certain they were all there, she shouted for silence and asked for one person to explain everything to her. That is when Rumi stepped up and told Ms. Nowal about the situation.
Ani just stood in the corridor and listened, and the more she heard the more she came to realize how all of her plans were falling apart. Yes, it was wonderful that the children were alright and no one was hurt but still why did they had to make a mess once again… She was late, and therefore accountable for the actions of the unsupervised children. She would be responsible for the spilled detergent and the ruined floor. She had to deal with it all. She would miss her appointment. She would miss the one chance she had for buying the perfect wedding dress. And why? Because her little, curious, careless students couldn’t just stay in their places and wait for their teacher to come. No, they had to scream, and fight, and touch everything they could – sure a nuisance would happen! Oh, Ani was so angry with them that she just did not know what to do. Where was she going to take them now since they could no longer stay in the classroom? Furiously, she looked outside the window at the greenfield soaked with rain… She taught for a while, but the solution was clear to her now: since they couldn’t stay in rest for then minutes, let’s see them run. Ani Nowal took the kids outside on the greenfield and told them to do whatever they want there but not to even think of going back into the school…

Monday, November 16, 2009

Angels and Demons

A book I recently read is Angels and Demons by Dan brown. I really enjoyed it: it was intriguing, intense, caught my attention, and left me speechless in the end.
For those of you who haven’t read the book, it is an amazing story, a mixture of science fiction, adventure, and mystery. The action is mainly in Rome and the Vatican where and ancient scientific brotherhood, persecuted by religion, is raising to destroy the religious capital of the world. A man and a woman are digging out ancient works from the leader of the scientific community in order to prevent the Vatican from disappearing and to save the lives of many. At the end, the Vatican is saved and just as the story is about to have a happy end, a dark, shameful, and disturbing secret is revealed. The chamberlain turns out to be the initiator of the threat against the Vatican with the single idea of restoring people’s faith in God.
The amazing plot of this book made me think about people’s goals and purposes. Does the goal justify the means? What does each of us believe in? Why do we need to believe in something and is it wrong if we do not see God in religion but in science or in art? ... I believe many of the questions that the book sets are given some answer that doesn’t impose itself but rather gives the reader background on what to think about. The need of people to believe in something and the controversy on what this something should be are undoubtedly the most important issues in the book. They gave birth to the war between religion and science centuries ago. Angels and Demons still does not solve this eternal problem but proposes some solutions and compromises so that peace and tolerance could finally be found.
Another part of the novel that impresses me was the solving of mysteries, interpreting signs, and looking for clues. The two main characters were trying to save the lives of the four preferiti (the cardinals most decent to take the popes position), running across Rome, looking for the four altars of science. The genius of the ancient architecture of the altars and the founder of the scientific community in Rome, who managed to hide its message from those who want to destroy science, astonished me. The book kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time and I just could not wait to read what happens next. The perfect mixture of science fiction and mystery made Angels and Demons my favorite book.