Monday, November 19, 2012

Nonsense arrives at DPS 45 School!

Nothing like meeting a fully fuliginous 4am to stimulate the stomata!  It’s a big day, but I had no idea how big it would be… {cue harp run}

A heaping plate of aloo-stuffed parathas went some way in alleviating jetlag, and soon I was whisked off by Himanjali Sankar, one of the This Book editors at Scholastic, to the DPS Sector 45 school in Gurgaon.

DPS Sector 45 School
As we approached, the massive structure (and this photo is just a tiny corner of the compound) I noted a dull roar, a writhing soundcloud of jeers and cheers, chatting and splatting: the  multitude of a massive public school.  Himanjali and I wandered about through courtyards and passageways packed with chatty chirpy uniformed kids until we were told to hang a right at the Gandhiji, to find our hosts.  After a quick tea, I was escorted into an enormous auditorium, every seat filled with a bright and squirming 9-year-old.  Each and every of the 600 or so seats.  As I stood with gob falling on shoe, holding my guitar and bag, I was announced.  I dropped my bags, walked to the podium, and spoke gravely into the mic:  “Nonsense!”  I may have said a few other words, after which I ran over to set up…

The show soon began, starting in a spiritual vein with Sarita Padki’s “The Bathing Hymn.” “Om” I intomed, and when I chanted “haveum bathum namaha” the crowd giggled.  The kids knew it was a joke, but the teachers panicked, fanning out into the crowd to suppress the laughter at such a deeply spiritual moment.  Even the teachers caught on, however, and the session began with a laugh.  I went through my brand new set list, with Samit Basu’s superhero poems, and They Might Be Giants’ song “Particle Man,” my “Bisht-Bosht Mudpies,” a little tutorial on nonsense and school subversion using the Appendix/Alice mash-up at the end of the book, followed by Barry Louis Polisar’s song “I’ve Got a Teacher, She’s So Mean.”
They mainly laughed where there were supposed to, and participated fully in chanting “Awk nok diddy wok, dicky picky poo!” (the phrase I still remember from my elementary days, though I think it was my brother and not I who saw Polisar do that song).  And so I learn: trust kids and nonsense.

We all filed out, and I had a quick tea before being escorted back into the auditorium to do it all over again for the next class… another 580 students. The second go-round I think was even more solid, and afterwards, as the children filed out, one asked me to sign his hand.  I did.  Then another asked me to sign his paper. I did.  And then another.  And then, within thirty seconds, it was a flurry of bits of paper and flailing appendages— I had to shimmy up the stage as the teachers shooed them away. The teachers apologized, saying the children were not supposed to do that, but I was just glad that they seemed to appreciate a little nonsense!


Karis said...

It's surprising you turned out so well, given that you grew up on the wrong side of Montgomery Village Avenue. Keep it up, English Slayer.

Michael Heyman said...

Thanks! Yeah, I guess you and I and Stewart Killen--all delinquents.