Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reminiscence - man’s best friend on a lazy sunday(after rum I mean)

Here we are, in the month of June that astronomically speaking is the month when planetary orientations and shifts of planet earth brings us monsoon, which is the second most important factor deciding the economic health of our nation. First one of course is black money as you thought rightly . Now that we in this country cannot academically or legally consider astronomy and astrology different, I must also mention a few words astrologically as well. This month Jupiter who is the luck and gift giver is leaving Gemini for the next couple of decades and can have a significant impact on all you Geminians economically and psychically. People born in other zodiacs are not to be worried that much, unless they have school going children. Now those of us with kids or had been kids themselves in the past know how significant a month June is for parents and school going children. Parents because time has come for them to put in practice what they had been mentally and physically preparing for, how to transport to the bus stop a consignment that includes but not limited to kids, bags, lunch boxes, umbrellas and bizarre thermocol constructs that the school authorities for some reason think makes children more creative. Children are thrilled because they now get the weird creatures they had been watching in tv on their school bags, lunch boxes and water bottles as well;for a premium though.

Thoughts on school reopening forces me to take a walk down my memory lane, 3 decades into the past - to my school days. Unlike today’s elite city schools that are mainly owned by well qualified and innovative thinking private managements that include pawnbrokers, paan-wallahs and real-estate barons, our school was run by the state  government; and when I say “run by” , its just a decorative statement, the correct wording will be “slacked by”. School reopening for us was like an astrologically significant date. Meaning, of no particular significance. Except that we now get to play with more friends compared to vacation time. This was mainly because our school never closed to be reopened, thanks to the open door policy or rather the no-door policy that was followed our management(the mighty state in this case), aimed at facilitating the free in and outflow of children during school hours.and cattle during the rest of the year.

Usually school reopening is the time when kids get new textbooks and notebooks, but for us, it didn't make any economic sense to ‘invest’ money in buying the new textbooks with our parents’ hard earned money, that too by standing in long queues in front of the school store during monsoon mornings wasting valuable time as well, that could be used for  more constructive activities like catapulting. Hence we diverted funds allocated under textbook schemes  towards buying more fundamentally strong commodities such as candies and ice creams. Not that this was a risk-free investment, many of us underwent severe audits and penal actions for this from our controllers and auditor generals at home, but ultimately we stood by our stands and won many accolades for this strategic fund management, primarily from our friends as the acquired commodities were distributed among them as well and secondarily from the vendors in the schools periphery who gave some of us privileged customer status and issued occasional gift vouchers that could be instantly redeemed unlike those given by super stores these days that can never be redeemed, meeting all the conditions that apply. We then borrowed textbooks of our seniors for day to day use. Those books were like gods for us, as most of them had no beginning and end.

Teaching now has become yet another profession that is purely judged by results, loyalty to management etc. But back in the village we had a very strong guru-shishya bond between us and our teachers. We both worked towards one single goal, that was the transfer of the teachers to their hometowns from our remote Western Ghat village that offered very harsh conditions in winter and monsoon which together formed about 364 days of the year. Teachers attempted through influencing the education department authorities and we by praying to gods in charge of education in our respective religions. Those with single gods submitted the cases via saints and prophets. We weren't rich enough to hire a God man or woman on our side unfortunately. Yet most of the time we succeeded and it took the government mostly months together to replace teachers, which meant more playtime for us.

If I recollect correctly, it was Victor Hugo who said "He who opens a school door, closes a prison". In our case this was somewhat true, with a slight change though - "He who opens the school door, closes in on a prison". As we were a government school, we were also obliged to follow the government’s founding principles, hence had school parliament and politically backed school elections that mostly concluded in having a bunch of high-school boys ending up in hospitals, being stabbed by compasses and dividers. Such incidents were so frequent that the Headmaster was forced to introduce an Instrument Box Control bill which was rejected by mathematics teachers, believed to be backed by instrument box manufacturers and suppliers. Though I was an insider of the “think-tank” of a particular political outfit’s school unit, I preferred to be inside a water-tank in the school premises after such outbreaks happened, this was mainly because our party believed in nonviolence and peace when comes to dealing with physically superior individuals.

I will stop there, as too much reminiscences can expose a lot more of one’s weaknesses and darker past. But one thing I can tell for sure about my school days is this -  No matter whatever made parents of some of us who formed the then educated middle class of the village send us to the government school instead of an English medium school, my school days provided me some of the biggest learning in life. Though lucky enough not to experience myself, I now know what is the meaning of hunger, what is the worth of a slate pencil piece and how does it feel to live with a single pair of clothes an entire year. Today when I drive past my school on my visits to the village and see the concrete buildings that have come up in place of our thatch sheds, a well walled school compound, playgrounds and the “Government Higher Secondary School” board, I wonder what is the one thing that kids today there would be missing that we enjoyed during our days. And I think its nothing but the pleasure that you can bring to a child’s face by letting him use an entire school backyard as lavatory is unmatched. 

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