Friday, August 15, 2008

Vande mataram

As I walked towards my bus-stop to catch the bus to work, I looked at the big clock at Chuen Chuen Café. “FRI 15 AUG” it said. It tells me the day and date every day, but today felt special. I was dressed in a white salwar kameez with a colourful bandhni dupatta (it has all colours of the tiranga except blue), and was armed with my signature low-cal gulabos (gulab jamuns) that I had made for my team. I’d badly wanted tiranga bangles (last year I saw someone wearing them on Zee TV and had been enthralled since) but didn’t manage to get hold of them.

Suddenly, I was reminded of a whole bunch of things related to this date, specifically Independence Day celebrations at school. A stark contrast to the dignified celebration I have now. I don’t quite remember specifics from all the seven schools I studied in, but the two years I spent in this tiny little school in a tiny little town in what is now Jharkhand, were very special.

It was one of the days when we would wake up all excited to go to school. No books. No school bags. No classes. No homework. We did look kinda silly armed only with water bottles though, but they were important for us to survive the parade in the hot sun later. And we wore the Saturday-wala white uniform even when it did not fall on a Saturday.

The flag-hoisting ceremony in school was pretty much the same every year. I’d look at the bundled up flag and wonder what would happen if the big shot guy whom no one really knew (no Laloo Prasad for us) tugged and tugged at the rope but the flag still did not unfurl. What if the knot was funny and the bundle stayed a bundle? Would he climb up the pole? But it unfurled, every single year, and tiny marigold petals descended on our heads as we began our off-key rendition of “Jana Gana Mana” while the music teacher winced in agony.

Then there was the pledge (which happened every day during assembly anyway), and I’d wonder, just like I did every day, why anyone would write something like “All Indians are my brothers and sisters.” And inevitably someone in the queue would crack the predictable “Why did Rajiv Gandhi marry an Italian?” joke. “Because all Indians are brothers and sisters.”

Then the chief guest would give a speech that would put everyone, who had not already fainted from the hot sun, to sleep. And then came the student speech. I don’t know why they always got the class nerd to do it. Two days before, I’d ask Dad for help with the speech and frantically scribble whatever he was saying. It was a pity that I’d spend two days memorising and reciting something that no one actually cared to listen to. Hmmph!

Then they would make us queue up and give us sweets in square cups made of leaves and held together with toothpicks. On a bed of savoury crisp stuff (which was far from crisp by the time we got it), would be a tiny yellow banana, and an extremely sweet boondi ka laddu that left a greasy layer of vanaspati in the mouth.

The frantic teachers would try to get us to finish eating and get us in line for the Independence Day procession through the town’s streets. The loudest boy in the school was entrusted to yell, “Bhaarat mata ki…” and “Vande….” during the parade, while everyone else went, “Jai!” and “Maataram!” respectively. The yells were loud and passionate for approximately seven minutes. As the sun ascended, the pitch and passion in the yells descended.

And of course, there was the famous club of Fainters Anonymous, of which I was the President. I remember one of my teachers saying, “Sayesha, try not to faint this year. You’re holding the flag and leading the procession.” Yes, I was one of the taller girls in class and had been entrusted with the flag that year. Also, the aforementioned loud guy would walk just behind me, so I wasn't quite sure what really caused my fainting - the sun or his yelling. “Miss, I’ll try, but I can’t guarantee.” So she decided to walk by me armed with my water bottle, watching me the entire time. That year, I actually did not faint.

Random kids would disappear from the procession when it was in the vicinity of their houses, and surprised teachers would hear, “Bye! See you tomorrow!” interspersed with the now meek “Bhaarat mata ki jai!” and “Vande Maataram!”

And the rest of us would complete the parade, tumble onto our bicycles and break all (bicycle) speed limits as we raced home to enjoy our ‘half-day’.

Cliched as it may sound, those really were the days.



25 comments:

manju said...

Lot of nostalgic moments reading your blog. Happy Independence Day !!!

And I get the gold :)

~anu~ said...

what a typical account.. this sounded totally like my experience, except for the fainting part! A similar take on the same pledge, the tricky knot on the flag, the parade..everything! i had just one more observation on the independence days i celebrated in school, it invariably rained on every 15th august! and we loved it!! :)

happy independence day bhai, jai hind!

SILVER for me :)

mythalez said...

bronze!!

am on a medal spree now :D

can relate to it all so well .. except for the parade .. having lived in cities only, never had parades outside the school

sd said...

Happy independence day to everyone!

Iday said...

Happy Independence Day Bhai!
And to everyone else...

Reema said...

LOL I also went through similar proceedings except that we didnt have any student speech and no processions in the city. We used to get biscuits and lozenges in sealed packet.U were the class nerd?? :P
Happy independence day!

sumgum said...

*Sigh*

I miss all of it....

Happy Independence Day !!

Swathy said...

ohhhhhhhhhhhh...
I miss School days!!
and those independence day singing/dance/poetry etc etc contests around the town where we chased by our teachers to participate..
the first 2 weeks of August month would be dedicated to these competitions..
:(
miss it..
Happy Independence day bhai n other bewdas!!

anshuj said...

Ahh! Those were the days !!

I also remember the PT that we used to do as part of independence day celebrations and for the life of me, I couldn't get it right. I used to be so frustrated with this whole PT thing, 'coz I was the class topper and all...and to fumble in this PT thing was...well, a humbling experience.

And is boondi ka laddo the national independence day pakwaan?

Sayesha, you really know how to make people nostalgic...I miss India.

Happy Independence Day!

Kanan said...

Now I want a holiday to stay at home and watch those parades in New Delhi... *sigh* those were the days...

Happy Independence Day to all.

Bhaarat mata ki jai!
Vande Mataram!!!

Prats said...

Hey Sayesha Happy independence day....
Of all things this one was a bit weird....

Yes, I was one of the taller girls in class and had been entrusted with the flag that year.


NOM!!!! :-P

Daroga said...

yeah... those really were the days !!

Happy Independence Day :)

Sayesha said...

#Manju,
Happy belated Independence Day! :)

#~anu~,
Hahaha! Parade in the rain would be so totally awesome! :D

#Mythalez,
Let India also win as many medals as you are winning! :P

#sd,
Thank you! :)

#Reema,
//U were the class nerd?? :P

Heyyyy! :/ Don't make fun of me, I was The Bhai too! :D

#sumgum,
Wish you the same! :)

#Swathy,
Happy ID to you too! :)

#Anshuj,
//'coz I was the class topper and all...and to fumble in this PT thing was...well, a humbling experience

Hahahaha! Same pinch man! I used to faint all the time! Once my teacher told me, "Sayesha, you're the head girl, you can't faint like this. Sets a bad example." Sheesh! :/

//And is boondi ka laddo the national independence day pakwaan?

Yup! The greasy one! Bleah! :P

#Kanan,
I wanna watch the parade too! Yesterday Dad described it to me over the phone though. :)

#Prats,
Of course! If a short kid carries the flag, it may not be visible man! :D
PS: What is NOM???

#Daroga,
Same to you! :)
#

Urv said...

Bhai tumhe salaam :)

I remember this time in school when I was to lead one of the rows in the parade.. I managed to get it pretty haywire.. :D

Iday said...

U responded to everyone's comment but not mine?!?!?!?
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa :'(

Sayesha said...

#Urv,
Hehehehe! I remember when I was in the band, and everyone was yelling at me cos we were playing so fast, the people in the march were literally running! Bahut gaaliyan mili baad mein! Hahahaha! :D

#Iday,
Oh nooooooooo! Galti se mishtake ho gaya re! Sorryyyyyyyyyyyyy! *Kaan pakad ke uthak baithak* :P

~vagabond~ said...

I loved this post. Aren't childhood days the best? And happy independance day to all! :)

Iday said...

:P
Bhai bane gunagaar ;)

Seriosly - couldnt let it pass man :P

rt said...

yes, those were the days..
I could remember only one as the best- when the senior students from different classes actually took a class for the junior classes. - That was just one class school day and it was fun..
I guess it was the independence day only..ma memory too blurred to remember that..

rt said...

yes, those were the days..
I could remember only one as the best- when the senior students from different classes actually took a class for the junior classes. - That was just one class school day and it was fun..
I guess it was the independence day only..ma memory too blurred to remember that..

rt said...

yes, those were the days..
I could remember only one as the best- when the senior students from different classes actually took a class for the junior classes. - That was just one class school day and it was fun..
I guess it was the independence day only..ma memory too blurred to remember that..

Sayesha said...

#~vagabond~,
Sigh, they truly are! :)

#Iday,
Waaaaaaa! Tu mehfil ka purana bewda hai na, isliye you can get away with a lot of things! :D

#rt,
Arre that was not Independence day, that was Teachers' Day! And they even had prizes for 'Best student-teacher'! Hehehe! :P

Iya said...

sayesha u have Jharkhand connection...thats awesome..and yes the good ol' days...

Sayesha said...

#Iya,
Arre I am the ultimate Jharkhandi! :D My Dad was transferred to Bihar when I was six! I spent a lot of years there. :)

The Rat... said...

Lolz... u know wat?? i did a similar post of all those nostalgic moments for this independence day.. cudnt stop myself from commenting on this old post...

Good old times... Sighs..

link to the article.. http://bhagirathy.blogspot.com/2008/08/me-and-my-independence-day.html