If you are a man, you may not want to read this. If you are a woman, you will know exactly what I mean. If you are a man in India, you probably do not have the faintest clue or wonder what all the fuss is about.
I suppose my first inkling that men are an altogether different species in India came in a recent conversation with Principal, M’am. By the way, I have also attained the title M’am and to be quite honest it has a certain superior ring to it; I can live with that. Anyway, on the odd occasion, there is the opportunity for small talk and so I imparted to the Principal that I had indeed had the audacity to leave my son in my home to fend for himself – best not to go into details about the girlfriend, I thought. No worries about my daughter, she was deemed quite able to look after herself. But the notion of a man/boy in a house with no one at his beck and call totally perplexed her. Who was going to do his cooking, pour his tea, do his ironing and washing… Would he survive the ordeal… Really??? When I last looked, my son was in full command of all his faculties with arms, legs and head in working order… so, I do not feel too bad at having abandoned ship and left him to his own devices… But then he has been brought up in the Western World, where time has moved on and men have started to realise they are indeed capable of picking up socks, putting on the kettle for a cup of tea, doing the ironing and cooking a nutritious meal.
And just this morning, after spending last night carefully wheedling out the lyrics of an ‘English’ Christmas Carol (not known to me…) from an Indian CD , Music Sir was at a loss at my suggestion that he could use a pair of scissors to cut off the last bit of the song he did not want on the paper. From the look on his face, he was clearly expecting me to make the amendments on my computer, go downstairs and print out another copy to save him the effort of using his legs.… Well, he had another thing coming: I left him in bemusement and assume he must have worked out how to use scissors or fold a piece of paper or found a more pliable Indian female, because later on he proudly showed me the copies ‘Photocopy Sir’ had made…
And when the same Music Sir ‘requested’ my opinion on his interpretation of the words for ‘Silent Night’, I was unable to convince him that he was on the wrong path with ‘round you virgin’. But as I had not the faintest idea what the real lyrics of ‘round yon virgin’ actually meant, I respectfully pointed him into the direction of the office computer, where internet access is available to those who make the effort to enquire and ask permission to use it…. As I had a point to prove, I did go down and within a couple of minutes, and with permission granted from Principal M’am, offered a print out of the lyrics, clearly talking about ‘yon virgin’ and putting him to rights about other rather unusual variations on the Christmas theme. Just to give him credit, he did say thank you at least twice, and followed this up with the invitation to address the school during the school’s Christmas celebration on 20th Dec – I respectfully declined. I will duly sing the English hymns, they were after all the ones I selected to teach the children and teachers, but draw the line at reading out anything else. Did I not choose to come to India fully expecting to give Christmas a wide berth this year and enjoying 25th December as a normal working day????