Some ten people were being trained about cliff-jumping, their legs shaking at the sight of torrential rapids of river Bhagirathi. I knew this training will scare the hell out of me, so I just jumped ignoring all instructions. Only after diving into deep water, I realised I never learnt swimming. My wife was already shouting, “help, help!!”. Life had made me so exam-oriented, that I took it as just another exam. The distance to shore, the requisite velocity and the momentum of rapid…….the genius aced it.
A peek into Indian schools of yore and present.
The rotes and the notes
Grandpa asked kid the meaning of rhyme “Humpty Dumpty…”. The fledgling convent educated kid said, “I just know the rhymes, not the meaning.”
Grandpa declared, “Convents are based on rote learning. ” (This wasn’t true but grandpa’s words were a dictum).
I never had any assignments or homeworks since I studied in a dilapidated sarkari (government) school but that came out as a boon. Books became the toys, and innovative mischieves we played in hostel got me into scientific thinking.
For many years, it remained a same syllabus and curriculum. My brother would get a brand-new book which he would embellish with plastic covers and colorful marker pens. What I would inherit is, a creased and shabby book and my younger bro would get a thing-once-called-book.
‘Wars of Panipat’ remained quintessential poser in history papers for years. Ten-year question papers and guess papers were vogue to ace any exam. Nobody cared to frame a new question.
The crouching children and sleeping teacher
Maths lessons were perfect for whooping ass and punishments (read my other blog), and literature lessons for a blissful nap. I had a hindi teacher who would ask to recite a story from textbook para-by-para in turns and sleep off. I always spoke loud, so when my turn came in lesson ‘Ibrahim Gardi’, my para began,
Ahmedshah Abdali said “Dozakh ke kutte!!”
Teacher got up from sleep, and all he heard was loud “kutte” (you dog!!) and slapped me in quick reflex.
The bliss of ignorance
One of the commonest phrase we heard when we were inquisitive, “That’s a very good question. Sit down.”
And that’s it. The answer would never come.
The aura of respect
One of the spiritual leader said, “India has the best culture in world.”
A child with gleamy eyes asked, “why?”
He retorted, “Because we respect our elders and never question back.”
His curiosity would be gagged for entire life, and he would never question.
The filmy fuchhas
The love-duets, the long chats, and emotional breakdowns. I-pills replacing candy-boxes. In my cosmopolitan practice, when I see a 12 weeks innocent fetus in a smiling teenager’s womb, it gives me goosebumps to just imagine its fate. I am not into moral policing but unwanted pregnancy must be avoided.
Schools have come a long way, and originality is creeping in. We all need to just free our mind from the rotes and rhetorics.