Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Inside Truth

Shoaib Hashmi's column in this week's Friday magazine:

If there is a solid, red-blooded schoolkid in the household, call him and ask, and listen carefully, and you will learn that the proper pronunciation of the word is Honework - with an "N". Just as the word for the stuff ladies use is Nake-up: and the name of the pretty girl in the story is Sumbrella! Kids are clever, and their versions roll off the tongue much more smoothly and conveniently.

What one didn't know is that some of them grow up without even bothering to check. The other day, a young mother of schoolchildren was cribbing about their Holiday Honework! I slyly asked what the purpose was, and she said, They want the parents to kill themselves honing the children's skills in the holidays! Aha! She was clever too, just hadn't bothered to check.

Schoolkids are very much the talk of the town now, with the summer holidays looming. For one thing, 7 year olds, it seems, have to study 12 or more subjects! That means lugging a dozen books and twice as many notebooks to school each day in a bag the size of a jumbo. Then come holidays, they get homework.

I do not remember doing any work in the long vacation in my childhood. Summer was for goofing off and lounging around. These days, it seems, teachers, to impress the administration, require each pupil to produce a Principia Mathematica in ten weeks. It took Newton longer!

What is more, most of it consists of parents buying a specially prepared Holiday Workbook, and the child simply copying all of it into special notebooks - also sold by the school. I thought economics would raise its ugly head somewhere along the way.

Then I met a grandmother who remembered the old days. Aitchison College was a school set up to educate the children of the princely houses, and four of them lived within shouting distance of the place. The son of the Maharaja of Patiala rode to school on a shiny black steed. The scion of the ruling house of Chamba rode an elephant; and the princeling of Nabha came in a palki (palanquin) !

And the prince of Bhawalpur State took the cake! He came in a camel cart, escorted by lancers, because he wore a jewelled turban. Properly, and reverently, at the school gate he would exchange it for the plain blue turban of school, and the jewelled one, on a silver platter, would be locked in the cart and driven back to the house! Hmm? Much nicer than lugging your own hulking schoolbag, no?


Blogger chai said...

i like the days of old. abu ji hates it when we even bring text books home for the summer. i would have to say i agree. summer time is for afternoon naps and extensive scrabble/card playing

5:32 AM  
Blogger baj said...

i take a palanquin every day to work and back.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Crazed Teacher said...

when we were younger mom used to look at our big bags and laugh and say i used to have a big just as big but it was full of my lunch :)

8:20 AM  
Blogger karrvakarela said...


chai: while i'm not a big fan of idling around and letting your brain rot, summer's definitely not for studying. The time can be used productively to learn something new, travel or do a job. Anything that occupies your mind in an engaging or challenging way and leaves you with a new skill.

My grandparents had some friends when they were living in Bhawalpur, an incredibly well-read and brilliant couple, who would insist that their son, Cheeky, do something useful in his holidays. So they would enrol him in short-hand and typing classes. Or get him an apprenticeship with the local car mechanic. Cheeky bhai's a doctor now and ever appreciative of his parents' initiative. He says it made him a lot more dextrous than his friends, both physically and mentally.

Baji: lol! Really? Is your name Sarojini Naidu?(

Ushi: it's ridiculous the amount of useless homework they give children. They should learn more useful skills, like cooking and ironing and making beds. That way at least they can be some use to their parents. What good does it do your mother for you to know the binomial theorem? On the other hand, if you can make her a chocolate fudge cake or repair a leaky faucet, well, then life would be just perfect.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Crazed Teacher said...

haha kk i think all this is management on the parents part. we r 4 sisters and along with learning the binomial theorem (i could never complete it) we learnt how to make chocolate fudge cakes and make our beds all in the summer holidays..... one cannot blame not learning house hold stuff on the work load from school.

8:17 AM  
Blogger baj said...

yes! i am "the Nightingale of ... uh ... Washington, DC". ;) that was a lovely poem! thx for introducing me to it.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Knicq said...

Shoaib Hashmi rocks! I used to subscribe to The News for as long as I was in pakistan, and that was almost five years, just so I could read his Taal Matol. The only reason I pay money for Gulf News, otherwise a paper I have found unkind to Pakistan and Pakistanis, is to read his column on Friday.

He evokes the sounds and smells of Lahore, as it is today, and as it was half a decade ago...I do not think I know another writer who has celebrated one of our cities so much...

...and if there are any, pray introduce me to them...I would like to get to know the other cities and its people as well...

5:10 AM  
Blogger karrvakarela said...

Assalamualaikum, knicq. Yeah, Shoaib Hashmi's pretty funny. I once saw him at Enem, in Liberty Market, peering at a toothbrush. The muchch adds good dramatic effect.

4:00 AM  

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