Thursday, February 25, 2010

the curse of annual day functions

Never again.

You hear me? Never again.

It wasn't even as if it was my own kid's Annual Day*. The kid's closest friends invited him to theirs and we said ok. After a mad scramble to get there on time, we found - what's new - that the event wouldn't begin until an hour later (we were waiting upon the Chief Guest, Saroj Khan**).

It was pure torture: kids reciting their rehearsed speeches in a way that doesn't seem to have changed in 30 years (I half expected the girl to spread out her skirt in a half-curtsy like those St. Ann's kids of my youth were taught to do...oh god! that's the cue for my migraine to return. Make note of all triggers, Space Bar); tinsely props, Bollywood, Bollywood, Bollywood.

I can't even go on - I'm so depressed. But the Principal or Director or whoever, feeling she needed to justify all the classes reassigned for rehearsals, the days spent at the venue, and the holiday they would have the following day, reeled off dubious statistics to prove that involvement with 'art' increased a child's 'performance' in school four-fold.

After an hour of this, and after one of the kid's friends had done with her performance, I said we were going to leave.

In the parking lot, we found ourselves locked in by other cars that were not even left in neutral. We sat in the car for an hour listening to the radio and watching the moon. Then, as some cars started going over the verge and out, and the space around us cleared somewhat, I did the same thing. Never done it before, mind you and never want to again. I worried about the axle, the wheel, all kinds of things, but really didn't want to hang around until 10pm for the owners of the cars around me to return.

Like the raven said, "Nevermore!"


* At the kid's school, Annual Day = each class doing their act under the big tamarind tree at the back. Only the parents of that particular year are invited, and it's all painless and over in an hour. This is what I call civilised. Plus, there's no moralising about Life and Courage and Country and all that.

** Yes, the choreographer. What can I say?


dipali said...

My profoundest sympathies, SB.It sounds truly awful:(

Elahe said...

EVERYTHING in this country is Bollywood! There are about 8 people in this country of a billion+ that act, host shows, sell products, inaugurate, give motivatinal speeches, perform mass weddings,are elected members of the Parliament, and the list is never ending! Depressing!!!!

Hari Batti said...

don't get me started on this.

em-pathetically yours,

Space Bar said...

Dipali: it was actually worse. I just can't relive it while writing about it.

Elahe: welcome! :D

It is depressing. What's worse is, most parents seemed to know what to expect and were dressed appropriately ( shimmering saris, lots of bling).

hb: no, no, please get started. I don't want to be the only one.

Falstaff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Falstaff said...

At least you could get out of there and put it behind you.

I have vivid memories of being forced to attend a 'children's cultural programme' at a client site I was working on (it was one of these factory in remote location kind of deals) and not only did I have to sit through two hours of the most excruciating performances, smiling all the time (we were special guests, naturally, with front row seats) I then had to spend the next week discussing the show with my client team, most of whose children were in the show, and all of whom were convinced that I couldn't possibly have missed the ineluctable brilliance that was their [insert name here]'s performance.

I still have nightmares about it.

/word verification: canes.

Space Bar said...

falsie: ha! what an appropriate wv!

I seem to have excised from my memory the hour leading up to the actual programme, which consisted of the MC going on about how kids in this or that item had to gather somewhere and sit/stand/listen to teacher. on loop. loudly. stopped only by the arrival of sk. *shudder*

??! said...

What some people wouldn't pay to have a snap of Falsie's face throughout that 'show'.

Space, have a falooda.

Cheshire Cat said...

"We sat in the car for an hour listening to the radio and watching the moon"

That doesn't sound too bad.

Especially if it was a Jack Spicer radio...

km said...

tinsely props, Bollywood, Bollywood, Bollywood.

I think when most of us were in school, anything to do with films or film music was not only not encouraged, it was considered vulgar (in both senses of the word).

But I find this to be an interesting development, and it's not restricted to school programs. You see this trend even at people's homes. Parents have somehow magically made peace with Bollywood.

Rajeshwari Kalyanam said...

Bollywood isn't bad, after all its the most popular theme with kids, however only and only bollywood is bad. Worse still are the speeches, I wonder how many of the schools have proper workshops on public speaking or performing arts. My sympathies with you and to think that there are quite a few years ahead, that we need to endure these annual days, before the ordeal is over and done with...

Aditi said...

I always thought Annual Day Functions only happened in northy schools. I remember the fourth standard class teachers decided to stage a soap opera and all the characters were soap. The lovers were Liril and Jay, and because I was fair (I know, wtf), they wanted me to be Liril. Except I started crying because I had to hold a boy's hand, and not only that, his name was Sachin -- and I thought it was a horrible name, why couldn't I please have someone with a normal like like Rahul or Rohit? So they chucked me for an equally fair but rather chubby girl (I know, wtf). I ended up in as one of several 'Ponds' girls, in a pink dress, but again I was upset because it was in the winter and I was asthmatic and my mother made me wear a pink sweater under my pink dress.

I remember anyone one in which I had to dance to something from the Sound of Music in a horrific magenta dress made with what I can only imagine to be 100% acetate.

I meant to say: I've never been to an annual day function as an adult, but it was pretty traumatic as a kid and I totally sympathise. Thankfully when we moved to Bangalore, my school only did very cool productions of musicals like Fiddler on the Roof and Annie in expensive auditoriums, selling expensive tickets. Because I could neither sing nor dance I was never cast in these wonderful plays. All I had to do was sell tickets and write speeches for the boring events like a teacher's silver jubilee.

Space Bar said...

cat: well, that part wasn't (it was AIR FM Rainbow, btw) but because it was mainly a form of distraction, the thought of being stuck there for ages kept turning up.

km: i know, right? This probably dates us splendidly.

Rajeshwari: Nearly certain I don't agree. When you say, "Bollywood isn't bad, after all its the most popular theme with kids", do you mean just because it's popular it's all right to have Bollywood at Annual Days?

I'll probably have to do another post now.

Aditi: wherever did you get the idea it was only a northy thing?! And that's the thing: even if it isn't Bollywood, annual days seem to be about things like fairness and products and stupid things anyway.