Just another day at school in India…

Doing things the Indian way caught me totally off guard and unprepared today and I have to confess to the use of some very choice words this morning to vent my disbelief at Indian proceedings..

A former president of India passed away last night and a seven-day mourning period was announced, starting today.   So all schools following the CBSE curriculum were closed for business, a National Day of Mourning…   that is all schools apart from mine!!  This would not normally have posed too much of a problem as I would have had all my lessons ready and my resources to hand.  But this week is not  an ordinary week: Youth Festival is looming.  In our school this entails three days of children doing little shows, songs and recitals whilst the majority of the school sits for hours on end watching.  Whereas the actual festival was not to start until tomorrow, today was set aside as a whole day of rehearsal, because the teachers declared the children were in dire need of additional time to practise their performances.  And Principal, being the good woman, had wholeheartedly agreed to dedicate Tuesday to further perfecting of the programme.

Unfortunately the Principal’s generosity did not stretch to granting me a day off (I did try…), although I am not at all involved in any of the preparations.  So I came to school armed to the teeth for today’s non-event:  iPad and keyboard to indulge in a bit of writing, memory stick  to print off my holiday itinerary for September and my reading book which was just getting to the interesting part.  I was all set for a day of stress-free entertainment on the school premises and left my folders, books, board pens or ‘anything remotely useful in a classroom’ at home.

It was soon clear that the day was not going to follow the expected course. Teachers and students trickled into school at snail’s pace once the news had spread that it was business as usual, rather than a day off mourning.  Academic Director and Principal had a quick powwow and hastily convened a whole school assembly to mark the sombre occasion.  The late ex-president’s picture was hauled from the library wall, given a cursory dusting by ‘Odd-Job-Man’, garlanded with a string of yellow and red flowers, spruced up with rose petals and perfumed with incense. ‘OMG,’ A exclaimed, ‘those are not the right colours; they are marriage colours.  The flowers should be white.’  I suppose at short notice, the school had to make do with what was available.   Maybe if Academic Director and Principal had made it to school just a little before the rest of the teaching staff…

And then, after having shown due respect to the deceased, Principal decreed that  there were not to be any rehearsals after all as such frivolities were not in keeping with the solemnity of the day and we would have normal lessons all day instead!  It seemed as if this option only just then occurred to her, so we all sighed a deep sigh and resigned ourselves to another day of indecision and whimsical changes of plan.  I could not resist having a word with Principal to point out that her changing tack suddenly made things just a little awkward for the teachers but my pleas fell on deaf ears and at 9.45 am I accompanied Principal to ‘Teacher Who Adjust The Timetable Every Day to Accommodate Things That Were Blatantly Obvious The Day Before’ to trash out revised timings so that all the normal lessons could be squeezed into the school day. At moments such as this, the word SHIT is woefully inadequate.  At least me being present meant that I could then pass the message to all the other teachers who had no idea of what was going to happen and were going to rely on the unreliable bell ringing of ‘Odd-Job-Man’ to find out the beginning and end of the lessons.

Without any lessons prepared, nor textbooks or other books to fall back on or board pens to play hangman with, my only solution was to use my memory stick laden with songs courtesy of The British Council and various other sources of free musical classroom entertainment.  So, we celebrated the life of the ex-president with jolly songs, reciting the English alphabet, learning body parts and singing  ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’  to our hearts content.  It was going to be a long, long day with little of my voice left at the end of it, I feared…

But then again, how could I not have known that a whole school day is like an eternity in which so many things can fluctuate and need altering…  At lunch time, Principal came to find me and took me in her confidence about the latest change of plan.  There would be rehearsals after all, starting at 2.00pm, unless any teachers would inform her they needed additional practice time… if so, she would, at her discretion, allow teachers and children to abandon all lessons today…  Somehow, the news spread like wildfire and in no time the whole school was buzzing and humming with excitement.  Rehearsals were back on and  will continue for the whole of tomorrow…  Just a minor adjustment to the proceedings of the Youth Festival: Wednesday’s events will take place on Saturday but the rest will go ahead as originally planned…

But it is still another 12 hours before the start of school tomorrow!  A lot can happen in that time and I will not be surprised if  we see further amendments and changes…  I have to keep on trying to go with the flow… Apparently, meditation should help with that, or so A and ‘Indian Man In The Know’ keep on advising me.

2 thoughts on “Just another day at school in India…

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