Saturday, 20 December 2008

The Ruskin Bond school visit: disaster

He came to our school on Thursday, and I was one of The Five from my section selected to be at the ceremony. Almost the whole class wanted to be there (Though I doubt if most had even read any of his books. One of the Chosen Five asked me his genre.) Turned out that anyone could have turned up there, with or without permission, and that I would have been better off without attending it. The only period I missed was Physics, and I might have gotten an extra mark for the MT if I’d been present at the class and proven the law of conservation of momentum. Sniff. So, about the assembly, or ceremony or whatever it was – I’d hoped this would be for 9thies exclusively but found the OAT totally packed when I went there (Yes, out in he OAT in the middle of December). The western choir started rehearsing, and was still rehearsing by the time Dr. (Mrs.) Padmashree Shayama Chona followed by Ruskin Bond had come. Chona SIGNALLED us to stand up, in front of Ruskin Bond. After the choir, some students read out a short story, of Ruskin Bond himself, from the NCERT 9th lit reader, and also 3 of his poems. And then came the speeches. Chona first, as usual, “There are many children in Indiaw who do nawt comprehend English, so you might consider trawnslating your books. We at DPS have a very good faculty of English and Hindi teachers, and you might consider us.” Yes, she was ADVERTISING our schoolteachers. Though those weren’t the exact words, the content was the same. And there was also a lame joke about Ruskin Bond and James Bond. In his speech, Ruskin Bond declined all offers to get his books translated. And then came the Saini speech. Short, thankfully. We were now allowed to ask Ruskin Bond dumb Qs like, “What inspired you to start writing?”, “What was your first book?”, “Why do so many of your books have trains in them?”. When they ran out of Qs, Qs kept repeating. One even offered his condolences for his father and grandfather (the kid offered Ruskin Bond condolences for Ruskin Bond’s father and grandfather, not for his own). And he was something like 70 yrs old (Ruskin Bond, not the kid). Sigh. And all the while, the kids asking Qs got his autograph. After the Q session, there was the autograph session, by which time it was already break. And in the autograph session, we could get autographs only on his books, which were also released that day in our school, for as Chona said, “Nawbody with little bits of paypour can get his autograwph on them. You can only get autograwphs on his books.” She announced this loudly within hearing range of Ruskin Bond. And to think that those children who asked him Qs could get his autograph on sheets torn from copies, or even body parts.

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