Tuesday, November 20, 2012

British School Babel!

Because one of the potential school visits did not happen today, my take-off time was moved to 11:30, meaning that I was able to sleep in… which, in my current state of jetleggedlaggedness, meant waking up at 5am.  Alas.

After a rousing gobi paratha with ginger pickle breakfast (far, far from Cornflakes Land (or even Cornflex Land, as it sometimes is spelled here)), I was whisked away by another Scholastic Beatrice, this time Shailee, a Marketing maven.  We cabbed it to Chanakyapuri, the ritzy district full of wide, leafy lanes and huge consulates and embassies.  (It was here, about ten years ago, that I went to a Fourth of July party at the American Embassy, where I found to my surprise not only real beef hamburgers, but an entire baseball stadium within the embassy compound.  Figures, eh?)  We headed to the British School, which is housed in the British Embassy.  I was led in and around and up and down, until we came to the school, and the teacher’s lounge—where I met many pretty, personable pakora-bearing pedagogues, and also a passel of grandparents, as it happened to be “bring your grandparents to school day.”  When they asked if there was anything I needed for the performance, I requested a chair, a glass of water, and a pony.  After tea and bikkies (and much more), we went to the venue, where about 80 children were seated on the floor (classes 3, 4, and 5)—and as I walked through to set up, they sent up a hearty cheer!  Huzzah!
It was a diverse crowd—with many flavors of Indians, along with ex-pat children from around the world.

The set was longer today--about an hour and a half.  I started with Sarita Padki’s “The Bathing Hymn” (sure-fire favorite!).
Because this piece is me, pretending to meditate and chant prayers—but all in the service of taking a bath—the children find it hilarious and outrageous.  Such spiritual subversion!  I went through superheroes and other things from yesterday—but added a few more—like “Chandrabumps,” a hilarious story by Kaushik Viswanath about a fellow who can’t seem to keep his pants on.  The story ends with the hero asking questions of his own pants… and so this segment ended with the children telling me questions they ask their pants—and how their pants respond.  We made portmanteau nonsense words together about school, and I also threw in some throat singing for good throaty measure.  One of the children said he knew Tuvan, but I have my doubts!
A story about huge tracts of land, apparently

The kids were great—and it was nice to have a somewhat more intimate experience than yesterday.  I’m still waiting for my pony.

After the event, we went back to the staff room for more food and tea and a roundtable discussion on the virtues of nonsense.  The gospel continues to spread!

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