Thursday, March 10, 2005

Standing and Praying:)

This is strange. A mere glance at a book of short stories by Rabindranath Tagore, at home, sent me on a flashback session. Let me explain. I thought of Tagore, then I thought of the National Anthem, and then I "flashbacked" to the prayer sessions at schools. It brought to my mind, so many memories of those morning assemblies.

I have been through seven different schools from LKG to class twelve and at every place, I had this huge task of learning the assembly prayer songs, as a new comer. The only one thing that was common was the National Anthem. And believe me, every school that I went to, the last part of "Jaya hai" would go totally off track, "abaswaram" to say it in music parlance. The pitch of some people wouldn't rise beyond a certain level (and it isn't their mistake, of course!) and while some will be on tune with the "Shruti", the rest would almost sink it to a level of their comfort. The result, well..! It was also the time, when we used to pledge, "All Indians are my brothers and sisters" and some smart alec from behind would murmur, "except one..!"

While we sang the prayer, there used to be the late comers outside, standing and peering through the grills of the huge main gate of the school, wondering how their day would begin, probably 5 rounds around the school ground, or a nice whacking from the PT teacher.

The other interesting part used to be the check whether you were in "full uniform" or "non uniform" (What words to coin?!). I remember in DAV, where we used to have prayers only on two days, I would polish my white canvas shoes frantically those mornings, cut my nails. There were some girls, who would come to class with shoe polish and nailcutters, worse still, some of them used to polish up using white chalk pieces!!

And once the prayer was over, we had the appointments (the captains/prefects/house captians) dutifully sharing responsibilities. Once the first person checked the condition of your shoes, you needed to deposit your palms into those of the next checking "appointment" and hands just used to glide into theirs for checks.

Talking about appointments, I can recollect some of my own experiences with it. Not at many occassions, but I have felt great pride in exhibiting some leadership. During first standard at MCTM, I cried and made a big fuss at home about going to school and my dad had to come and speak to my class teacher. Mahalakshmi "miss" the next day, made me the I-B leader who would lead the students in a line to the prayer session! Crazy?! That's how I was. Then again in class five at Chinmaya Vidyalaya, I used to stand in the front in the assembly and we had this really strange practice. We had to come forward, salute and shout, "Class five - C, 32 present, 2 absent!". I can't explain how proud I used to feel!

There were also the "thought for the day"s and news and prize announcements. It was indeed great fun to have been a part of all this. It would fill me with so much of excitement and pride!:)

And of course, how could I forget those silly people who would faint in the assembly because they haven't had food? (not that I am a great eater, but I never used to skip breakfast;)). Everyday, there used to be at least 3 cases of people fainting and teachers would rush in and drag those kids to the labs (usually, chem and phy labs where we used to have long benches to sleep on!)

Eventful, if something has to be said about prayers in schools. It gave me a sense of belonging to the school, whichever one I studied in, the sense that I was part of this huge group and an arena where you would see laurels and feel proud. It was also a place to giggle and see some funny experiences. To quote one, it was my first day at Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) in Tiruchengode (a rural area near Salem). I had joined class three and was standing in the prayer, the first one in that school. Old students were curious and excited. One of them looked at me and said, "Hey this is not the way you stitch your pinaform (for pinafore!)" and she asked me, "What is your name?". "Anupama", I replied hesitantly. "Anu enadhu?"(Anu what?) she asked and not waiting for an answer, continued, "Uh! what a strange name!" (in Tamil). Ah, Prayers...!


Sriram said...

Ha ha ha...pretty nostalgic one. reminds me of my school assemblies when i had to go and rcite the pledge and make every one say...thats for 4 years from 6th to 10th!!! Boy! how i used to crib on this...

ammani said...

Hilarious. Especially the abaswarams on 'jaya hey' or 'jaya gay' as we were taught.
During my college NCC days we had to sing the NCC anthem (or theme song or something) and there was one particular line that went 'Kashmir ki dharthi rani hai, SARDARJI mala hai'...the line remained a mystery for a long time until I discovered that it was 'sar taj himalay hai'. But writing it down now I feel even this doesn't make much sense. I guess it's a mystery I'll take to my cremation ground. Thanks for that dose of nostalgia.

S m i t h a said...

nostalgic and funny. thank you.

piggy said...

"anu ennadu"? I was laughing out on reading that.

Eroteme said...

Nice trip down memory lane. You learnt music (shruti ain't common parlance)?

"We had to come forward, salute and shout, "Class five - C, 32 present, 2 absent!". I can't explain how proud I used to feel!"

You actually did this??? :-|

"There were also the "thought for the day"s and..."

I remember the time I had to do this. I had forgotten that it was my turn and asked my senior friends to give me some good "thought" for that day. Those smart alecs gave me 2 to choose from. Here they are:

"A good speech should be like a lady's skirt; short enough to gather attention but long enough to cover the subject" and
"2 minutes in an oven can be like 2 hours and 2 hours with a young girl can be like 2 minutes; that is relativity- Albert Einstein"

I was panicking but sane enough to ignore the first one. I was taken to the principal for reading out the 2nd one. I had to spell out a proper one the following day.

We had a classmate called Anupama who was... what shall we say... not lacking in adipose? We used to call her atom bomb (anu-gundu in Tamil!!). :-)) That "Anu what?" reminded me of her... She slimmed down drastically before we parted...

Anupama Viswanathan said...

Nice one there. Bye the way it reminds me of our school days as well, when News was read out just as in your school and everyday three people would recite quotes of the day. Sounds repititive.right? Well ought to be, there are certain things about school days everyone shares together.

Anupama Viswanathan said...

hey hell..wotz happening, I thought the previous comment was by Amrita, and it shows my name!! This is crazy, blogger is getting confused!!
I am experiencing sth very funny with my blog. I am not able to post comments on anybody else's blog and to see comments on my own blog, I have to login through blogger dashboard. I can see others posting comments on my blog but I can't do the same in other blogs. Can somebody pleeeeeeeeease help me??

Vani Viswanathan said...

finally ur blog is working or what? hey, just yest. i was telling a friend about all the crap that we as DAV appointments went through...from cleaning windows to chasing lizards out of the classroom, to opening school gates for the chief guest! its all a part of the game!

Vani Viswanathan said...

ammani, that sardarji thing was just tooo....good! and erotome, anu-gundu was gr8 too!!!

Anupama Viswanathan said...

hey hey Eroteme..this anu is not "gundu"..not at all!! She is by all means trying to become one, but in vain!:( and yes, I have learnt music but stopped some years back. Don't sing too often these days!

Sriram, Piggy and Smitha, thanks for ur comments..and yeah, Smitha..Welcome!!:)

Ammani, the Sardarji thing was indeed funny!

Vans, I know ur appointments story.You were a living example at home..;)) as amma often recollects these days ..

Amrita, ur comment has come under my name, another one of those confusions, i guess! anyways, thanks!:)

Amrita said...

God, Anu, i don't know what has happened! I guess has confused us both.