Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Of concerts and citadels...

Went to Bangalore last weekend to catch the Bryan Adams concert. Ten of us together, and another friend of mine joined with her friends, so that’s another five. Although, truth be told, we didn't really all stay together. Did pair up in the queue (which btw, snaked all the way back to the main entrance gates to Palace Grounds. THIS mind, was at 5 20. Concert was slated to start at 7. we loitered in aimlessly an hour and a half later and joined my poor friend who was standing there from four) but lost each other once we were pushed inside.

I don't really like Bryan Adams as a general rule. I mean, he's nice, pleasant sounding really, but nothing that I go wild over. What I REALLY wanted to watch was Jethro Tull. And to rub salt in the wound, my dad goes to it with his friends. He also made it the B adams. I am still working out if I should be horrified or not.

But anyway, it was a packed ground and me, with all my optimistic 5'4 and a further 4 inches courtesy of those beautiful, feminine, delicate looking boots I ripped off Gene Simmons feet, still had trouble looking over the shoulder of the guy in front. Of course, we were pretty close to the stage so it really wasn't much of a bother. Now the Marc Knopfler concert last year I went to, Yeesh. Couldn't see ANYTHING. But it wasn't so packed and we'd stood quite far from the stage so on the plus side, we did get some space to loll about a bit on the dirt ground.
Anyway, had a nice time at Sunday's concert. Was really surprised to see that literally everyone knew all the words to all his songs. And he really did put up a great show, very enthusiastic, all his best songs and he worked the audience really well. Not that we needed any encouragement. All in all, fantastic crowd, fab atmosphere, brilliant show.

The way back was a lot more fun as well! My friend woke and left at a quarter to five to catch her train back to Madras. I'm up and ready by seven when dad calls and lets me know that the 8 15 Indian Airlines has been delayed to 9. Half hour later, he picks me up and tells me it was further delayed to 9 20.. then 10 10.. and finally ETD was 11 by the time we went to the airport. Anyway we book another flight, collect the boarding passes, pull out our luggage from IA and check them into Jet and saunder off to Leela Palace for some breakfast in the sun.

I am still reeling from that breakfast. I don't think I spared any animals. You see, I'm not biased that way. Equal Opportunity, I say. Be patient and wait a bit, eventually I will appear around the corner, armed with fork and knife.

Funnily enough, the Indian Airlines guy is still calling my dad at 10, when we're comfortably seated inside Jet, and telling us the flight's been further delayed to One pm. A twenty minute flight delayed by five hours. Fantastic. Dad's still messing around with the IA guy and asking a lot of ridiculous, irrelevant questions till the flight's ready to take off. In their defense, at least he didn't call once we landed at Madras, which was a shame cause if he had I would've loved to see Dad chew him out.

In other news, some pretty scary things have been happening at my brother's school. This used to be (around the 12th century) one of the best all-boys Christian convent. Now all I hear about are children peddling drugs and what not. One of his classmates might jus be suspended. Quite horrifying listening to some of the shocking antics that go on in that school. Beastly, horrid boys. Can't believe some of them could be so vile at sixteen.

My school's not too good either. Pretty much all the catholic convents are running in past glory. I remember being taught by nuns in kindergarten, and some really fantastic Parsis and Anglo-Indian teachers all the way up to the tenth grade. My schooling at Sacred Heart really was something. We had the best teachers and really, a school is so much more than just that. Children are very impressionable and those formative school years shape their attitude as an adult and a contributing member of society. When a child spends more than half her childhood in such an institution of learning - learning from her peers, from her teachers, from the experiences shaped by the factors around her- it really is quite important that one imparts a well-rounded education.

I remember everyone played some instrument. We were just as passionate about arts/crafts and singing as we were about the Sciences. It didn't matter if you sucked at sport, you were probably brilliant in Math, and it didn't matter if you sucked at Math, you were probably brilliant in Literature, and if you sucked at Lit you were probably brilliant at Arts'n'Crafts, and if you sucked at that, you were probably a fantastic violinist, or piano-player or vocalist.

We abolished ranks in classes because they did more harm than good anyway. The Topper's in constant fear of her position being threatened, the next ten are all grumbling and unsatisfied till they reach the top spot, the second half are mortified and gloomy and beat themselves up about it. It's only the above averages that really have any fun at all. So no ranks. Just recognition for the top ten percent of the class every year. But academics weren't all. Right until the twelfth and final grade, we had 4 hours a week of Moral Science. Catechism for the catholic students, moral science for the rest. Those books were really wonderful, because they don't preach about God and the universe, but they DO preach about tolerance.

Having that sort of exposure to a multi-cultural (Who in India can deny the vast cultural differences from state to state) multi-lingual, multi-religious student body and being taught tolerance (much more than tolerance actually. Tolerance implies a grudging acceptance, this was more to the tune of embracing and celebrating diversity) of different beliefs from such a young age was really marvelous. If I turned out alright in the end, I must really thank all the teachers who rapped me on the head whenever I got out of line.

Now, I think if Mrs.Bangara twisted a girl's ears, her mother would probably swoop down on the school, harping about corporal punishment and about psychologically scarring the child for life. For God's sake, I am not an advocate of Spare the rod and spoil the child, but discipline need not mean enforcing obedience by the threat of punishment. A sharp look or a firm word can be scathingly critical to a child (altho I did get my ears boxed on quite a few occasions). Will you just let your child be? Not all incidents are as horrifying as they seem in your mind, have a little faith in the human capacity to heal and bounce back.

Teachers are (were, in any case) more than jus dictaphones of textbooks, they're guides and mentors and sometimes role models. Many a well-adjusted adult has sprung from a seemingly dysfunctional joint family with a hundred thousand aunts and uncles and their eccentricities. But then again, when I was in school, you could trust a teacher to have only the best intentions, and even if you did not approve of their method, you could be safe in the knowledge that regardless of the how, the why was in good faith. The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, and the protective bubble of Church Park - dangerous and damaging as it was in some ways- ultimately did a lot more good than harm.

*Sigh* I do ramble on, don't I? There's something tragic about watching a citadel of past glory crumble upon itself.

I know scores of couples who've worked hard, studied abroad, got a high-paying job, fantastic house with a pool in the backyard and then left them all behind to come to India with it's pot-holed roads and non-existent water supply to start a family. With things the way they are, is it really all that different from putting your child in an American school? Yes, there are certain things that one picks up from her contemporaries here in India-taking your feet off the table when someone walks in, standing up whenever a guest/elderly relative enters, not laughing when someone falls down, NOT being a complete brat at a guest's house for god's sakes- but I really wonder if that is enough?

Frankly, at the end it all, despite your kid having dabbled a bit with ciggers and whatnot and having had his share of unruly fun growing up, if he's courteous and charming and considerate and he knows enough to stop and help someone who's fallen on the street and he doesn't laugh when something embarrassing happens to another person and he still falls at his mother's feet and seeks her blessings at ceremonies, is it alright in the end? I really don't know.. Maybe there's hope for us yet.

Yes. There's always hope.

No comments: