This was brought on by a friend's blog post.
Apparently, working people sleep whenever they can. I saw this in my father, see it in my sister, and see it every day in the cab I take to and from work. The first two-three days I was taken aback at the lack of conversation among colleagues, now I understand. I sleep for most of the hour too. Except for two minutes in the evening when I unfailingly awaken every day. It happens on a stretch of road known as the Benito Juarez Marg. The road that has my old school, sitting by its side. (This probably explains my love for K3G, but that’s not important here.)
The funny thing is, I didn’t particularly like my school while I was in it. Or even now. I don’t really miss it or anything, but every time I think of it, I remember some oddity that makes me smile.
For example, this ritual we had of ‘cleaning duty’. Every day a ‘cleaning duty monitor’ (one of the most influential members of the class), would designate four people to broom the class-room after school. It was supposed to be a character building exercise. We thought the school was too cheap to hire help. Or was allowing us to explore alternative career options, a very popular opinion, given the quality of some of the teachers.
To be fair, we had some excellent teachers. But they were almost always hamstrung by the lack of time. Brought on by the range of extra-curricular activities-so important for character building-that the school encouraged. Activities included an Africa Week, an annual celebration of our friendship with the continent. Through the week, we would write (essay, poetry competitions), talk (assemblies), draw (poster making competitions) on topics around the theme. Then on the last day, there would be a proper cultural programme with song and dance (the same one every time). African dignitaries would be guests. For all the wonderful education that the students were receiving, they weren’t shy of poking fun at the clothes and the girths, and sadly, the complexions, that our guests sported.
We weren’t limited to Africa though. There was a Palestine Club, with 15 year old members dedicated to the cause. So what if they were foggy about what the cause exactly was. And then there was the, even broader in scope, International Evening. The Evening featured a ballet of some sort, but my abiding memory is that of a handful of foreign students dancing to “Heal the World”, while the Indian kids stood around with candles in their hands.
The only function that the students (local and international) really looked forward to, was School Birthday. The closest equivalent, if you went to a sane school would be Founders’ Day. From what I hear, the latter is a stiff formal function attended by Very Important People with a proclivity for long speeches. In some, prizes are given out and the proud history of the school recited. There might be a sombre lunch or an off day for the students in the more generous schools. We on the other hand, had a School Birthday Party- complete with its very own birthday ditty, and a cake cutting ceremony. Some of the kids, who had their birthdays in the same week (or who could convincingly lie about it being so) would go up on stage to help the matronly Founder Principal do the honours. They would also get a bite of the cake on stage, which they claimed was much nicer than the one all of us got in class, later.
In junior school, the main event was the fancy dress competition. Which was always painful, mostly due to my unimaginative parents. But also in part due the over-ambitious mothers and zealous elder sisters some of the other kids in the class had. Once I remember, I had a huge bruise on my cheek after falling down from the swing. My parents still made me a fairy. Because that would involve dressing me up in the lone frilly frock I had, and handing me a magic wand my father had fashioned out of a twig and aluminium foil, a couple of School Birthdays back. The same year, the boy next to me in the queue came dressed as a witch. In third standard, the fattest boy in class came dressed as a woman, wearing a green spaghetti top, a black skirt and chandelier earrings (clearly, parents were less squeamish, back in the 90s). I went dressed as a fairy, in case you were wondering.
No chance of a win, year after year, after year. May be they did manage to build character after all.