Oops they did it again!

7:35 PM

Last Saturday was Ishi’s school annual event, the very same event type I blogged about last year when they asked us to pay 500 a week before the show and we found out it was Bollywood songs…you can refresh your memory here and here.

This year instead of giving you a couple of blog post with an air of deja vu, I’m giving you one post that summarize the experience. The school was less good at keeping a lid on it until the last minutes, one factor being that as mom of nursery students we had them fess up certain things early, not that we knew the songs, but we knew they were dancing in school, the second factor being that they have now a Jr Kg group and they were practicing a dance on Rang de basanti right behind the reception desk, so there was no mystery about the fact that the school was using the same tried and done Bollywood thing.
Now I knew what would come next in the sequence of event, the other moms in Ishita’s batch are all newbie, and I warned them that as the date would draw near we would be suddenly asked to fork 500 rupees for the costumes rental, whcih horrified them and made them wonder why the school was not asking us with enough time in advance to make the outfits. As the Been There Done That mom I warned them that they were going to be deaf and mute about the issue, and one day before the glorious event we would all be bringing supremely horrid and cheap looking costumes that would in all likehood not even fit our tiny tots, they didn’t believe me yet. Days, Weeks past and the teacher let one of Ishita’s song slip: Seniorita. At this point I knew where it was going, so unlike last year didn’t seethe and ramble about the stupidity of having toddlers dance to anything Bollywood when there is a whole world of classical music to explore if they wanted to keep it Indian and even more nursery rhyme if they wanted to make it easy for the toddlers to relate. But nope, Bollywood it is, yet again. With all the craziness that has been plaguing the school this year I was not expecting much more from them.
2 weeks ago a small note has been ceremoniously dumped in my daughter’s backpack with no teachers even telling us about it. And as expected they were telling us to bring 500 bucks for the costumes within 2 days. The other moms went fuming, I again warned them that going to complain will fall into deaf ears, we paid and waited.
last Monday, the starting of the week that would lead to the even, a twist in the plot occurred, one that left me biting at them. I dropped Ishita in school a bit late, due to a Q-tips situation that made us stop by the hospital first and the coordinator inform me that since Ishita is in two dances I need to bring a lehenga choli for her second number…arr-humph argggh gasp…WHAT? I told them I don’t have a lehenga for her, only an Anarkali churidar outfit. The lady ask me “Can you buy one” at this point I am trying hard to process why oh why she is asking me this considering that like the year before I paid 500 rupees and that like last year I am expecting it would be enough for the two costumes she would end up into on the stage, clearly I was delusional! I inform her rather sternly and a bit aggressively that no I will not spend 1500-2000 bucks for an outfit she will never wear much more than once or twice in her life, and that I am really not willing to run to Crawford market to score a bargain either and point out that it was their job to provide the costumes. She tells me that they can rent a second outfit but only if I pay another 500 bucks. I flat out point out that the previous year it was 500 for TWO outfit, not one, and she goes blank, stutter and mutter “I have no idea how that worked last year”. Pissed I inform her that Ishita will come in her Anarkali and churidar and that it was final, pointing out that they had quite some nerve asking for more money on these considering that out of the tuition fees none of the field trip money went toward any field trip, the school had been too lazy about these this year around. She blanks and looks embarrassed again and surrender saying the churidar outfit will just do fine. I bring it to school the next day, she again assure me it was fine (probably realising it looked fancy enough to look the part in God knows what song they planned to have her dance next, and the rest of the week goes smoothly.
Come Thursday, the horrid rental costumes are handed out to us to dress all kiddos in before the show and bring them dressed up backstage on D-day. Again I was expecting it, I ended up with a cheap red satin flamenco dress with black net and sequins ruffled, the outfit looked like it had been worn by many, some bits are snagged and frayed. But hey as I said I was expecting it. Two of the moms got handed white and red cotton sarees for their daughters and I thanked the stars that I lucked out on a tacky satin horror instead, at least it would be easy to keep her dressed and neat in it. One of the saree mom complained the next day that the outfit is way too short for her daughter and about half a foot from the ground (nobody in school thought of checking the sizes of anything) but is stuck with it. Meanwhile Ishita begs me to let her wear the dress all the time, she is beyond exited by it, to be fair the material is tacky and cheap but the cut of the dress is cute.
Saturday evening I drop an all dressed up Seniorita at 5.30pm at the venue, which unlike last year when it was in a party hall is this year in the middle of the BMC sports ground in our area (saving money everywhere they can!). We sit and wait for the show to begin. This year unlike last year there was a theme: Incredible India. Seniorita was the opening number, as the story goes we are following an Indian family that first decide to travel the world and their first stop is Spain. For that dance the girls are dancing with a boy partner, Ishita’s partner however broke into tears and terror the instant the music started, leaving Ishita totally confused at what she was supposed to do, clearly her boy partner was broken and would not hold her hands and spin around in circle so she stands there looking around wondering if she should console the boy, or just wait. A teacher comes to her rescue and make her spin around the crying boy who is by then in full meltdown mode. The dance end and the show continue, the family goes to USA and a group of 2-3 years old pre-schooler appear all dressed in flappers outfit designed to blind the audience in a sparkle of yellow and magenta so that no one would notice how wrong the outfit looks on toddlers they dance on the ketchup song waving cheerleader pom pom, then the story continues and the family visits Australia, cute little things dressed in brown bear outfit that are supposed to be kangaroos take the stage and hop up and down on a song about gummi bears (bite me I thought gummi bears were a German invention). Then the family apparently goes back to India, and this ladies and gent have been the tacky pinnacle, because as the story goes the Indian family is still exited about their trip around the world and can’t stop dancing…blast in the tune of a Vengaboys song I know oh too well as it was a popular club song in my youth and start displaying horror on my face praying hard for the sake of all the parents it was the instrumental version…no such chance, a few beats into it and we are all hearing “BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM I Want you in my room…” At which point the look on horror that was gracing my face was present on about half the people in the audience, clearly whoever picked that song had no idea what the lyrics meant!
Then they went into regional mode, because the family is now touring India realising that it is the best place on Earth. There was more kitschy costumes but at least with regional costumes undertones, songs I didn’t particularly recognize, Ishita’s second dance was to represent Gujarat, and all the kids in her group danced very well in that song, no meltdown, apparently give them dandiya sticks and they are happy. Then came the white saree group representing Kolkata, the daughter of the mom who reported her outfit was shorter was not exaggerating, all the other girls had sarees, her looked like a saree mini-skirt, clearly someone goofed up in the sizes there. And the only objectionable song in the India journey was a song about Radha, which was played when the family visit Mumbai and see a Bollywood movie being shot, in that song Radha wants Attention, Radha wants to party, and she is a sexy Radha…ummm ok, why are 3.5 years old dancing on a dance that want them to be sexy and an object of attention? After that it’s the West that is moral less, perverted and a bad example to follow…yes indeed!
Now to be fair the theme was a good idea, most of the dance numbers were nice, the songs at the exception of these two I mentioned were fine. That said, it’s yet again putting a lot of expectation on small kids, half the play-schooler had meltdowns on stage and they even had to call the moms to go dance with them the other half of the younger kids had no freaking idea what they were supposed to do, the nursery kids were playing along nicely for the most of them (though that class was not exempted from the meltdowns either), as it was the case last year, the fact it was an evening show had half the kids tired and cranky too.
I said it last year, I’ll say it again this year, asking kids that young to dance to Bollywood songs is wrong, asking them to even relate to them is even worse, like last year I felt very smug at the sight of clueless little tots. Sadly the school will like many others continue doing the same kind of shows…And I am not deluding myself much, the school she is going to next year will probably have its Bollywood moments too.


  1. Beatrix3:38 PM

    Good heavens what a nightmare.

    I have a sister in law in Kashmir that is an elementary school teacher.

    I was asking her about 'child development' stages in the age range she teaches- she had not a clue what I was talking about.

    I guess all you need to do to teach children in India is memorize the curriculum & that's it?

  2. Kay in India4:52 PM

    That sounds awful. Bollywood is definitely not the best teaching tool for kids. Have you thought about sending your daughter to IS (American School)? I'm pretty sure they have a British school equivalent as well. My cousins grew up in the Philippines and they attended the American International School--their curriculum was pretty much the same as mine in the US.

  3. Yes they have one in South Mumbai miles away from our place, but even if it was near, there is no way we could even affrod the 6-7 lakhs tution a year these school ask, they are designed for the super well off Indians and expat families on the company pay roll, so not an option. We arer putting her in a school with the cambrige curriculum next year, but in a school that is not an expat money trap.

  4. Doesn't surprise me, for playschool and nursery, all one has to do is follow a 10 month Montessori or whatever other teach method course and they can then call themselves a teacher :( There was an article in the paper a week back or so where they pointed that regulations and guidelines in the pre-school sector was the need of the hour because anybody can run one in their back yard these days. My mom was a nursery and Kg teacher, it was a 3-4 years course, my sister is now studying to be one and it is still a 3-4 years course, and they don't even let you handle a class on your own without several months of internship, it's not just montessori that is thaught, it's children psychology, early childhood development, law, and healthcare basics that you have to study to be able to call yourself a teacher in Switzerland. In India it seems that knowing nursery rhymes and impressing the parents by teaching their tots the ABC is considered enough of a qualification, never mind that developmentally a 3 years old cannot hold a pen to draw letters, or even make sense of what the alphabet is for, and in Ishi's school while drawing letters was not on the agenda they wanted them to all colour in the line of their homework colouring book, a thing no kids really do well before the age of 4 at the earliest but is most likely to master it by age 5! When I went for the school admission interview for next academic year in the new school, I was so relieved when the principal showed surprised at the fact Ishita was learnign the ABC in nursery school. She told me that in her school it is not touched until the end of jr Kg because what matters at this age is verbal communication skils and manners, not academic skills. I wanted to hug her.

  5. omg! the staff, including the principal(s) of that school are all CLUELESS! what on earth are they thinking? if at all, they should, at least, have the toddlers do some EASY TRADITIONAL indian dance. not that bollywood crap!

    yes, the gummi bears were invented in germany. again, clueless. oy...

  6. Tell me about it, I have been wondering the same last year, if they really want the annual event to be desi themed there are plenty of traditional folk music and dances they could teach the kids, but then of course that would mean that the teachers would have to WORK instead of just putting together a mixed tape of Bollywood hits. Frankly my experience so far with the school system lean me to think that it's all bend to help classes segregate even further, alienate the "Elite" when it comes to culture: after all the school also asked me to stop speaking French because Ishita was speech delayed and they could not understand what she was saying, apparently it was not their job to teach her English...arrgh! I gave in bitterly, now waiting for her to be more stable in the next school she will be attending starting June to reintroduce that French I had to give up gradually. The Indian well off segment of society needs to speek English, Hindi is apparently even described by some kids as a maid's language, one even scolded DH at the playground for using it to address her explaining that fact. Bollywood is the only Indian exposure factor for many kids, and the exposure to the West is still done via ridiculous stereotypes passed as truth: Junk food is what we eat. Junk food is only pizza, burger, meat, pasta and noodles. Aloo tiki is not because it's Indian, some schools would crib seeing french fries in a tiffin but not even raise an eyebrow seeing a samosa or pakoda in there. The West has no morla, no values, but that's ok to have 3 years old hop and down on a stage dressed like gogo dancer to "I want you in my room" because the theme of the show is "Incredible India" with the teacher going on and on about serving us the line on how India is the best country in the world and heaven on Earth...I have no problem about patriotism in general, if it is not blind that is, and sadly there is far too much of that in India. This is exactly what I want my daughter to be NOT proud about whne it comes to her country, i want her to be proud of an Indian that will move past cultural anihilation, crimes against women, child labour, female foeticide, corruption, double standards and hypocrisy. Until then I don't see where Indian superiority lies.

  7. Kay in India4:13 PM

    My BIL went to an IB school in Mumbai, and he says the fees were about 5L / year which is about 10K USD / year. IMO it's not too bad for a private school that focuses on extracurricular activities and has space (another expensive commodity in India).

    The American schools are expensive. Especially when I was getting a better education for free (well, taxpayer funded anyway) in the US.

  8. Yes but on an Indian salary, even a good one this is out of the budget for many families, us being part of that catergory. I am Swiss and we have no plan of leaving India or even settle in the US. there are other schools that focus on extra curricular activities without the 5 lakhs a year price tag, there are IGCSE Cambrige curriculum schools across India that have very reasonable fees, like the one in whcih we are putting Ishita in starting next June. 70k a year for Jr and Sr Kg and they have space too.
    But yeah as I said these international British and American schools are in South Mumbai far from where we live so they would never have been an option, the fact that they are in the South of the city makes sense that's where all the consulates are located. There was an International private school in Geneva too, the vast majority of the students there were diplomat kids and kids of expats whose company was compensating them financially because even there with the Swiss salaries it was out of price range for normal people. But back home the public school sector is exellent, those opting for the International school were those always on the move or wanting their kids to do most of their studies in English rather than French.

  9. Good News,

    You can read this news in the Hindustan Times. Unfortunately, the hyperlink did not get created.


  10. There is an article in Hindustan Times Today about a court order that private schools cannot take more than one months fee in advance. Apparently, the quarterly fee payment was too hard for the parent to pay and they went to court. You can read the story here:


  11. Sorry your comments went through moderation because they contained a link, had to wait for me to get online to see it :)
    I think this is a good thing, I hate the paying so much in advance myself, and yep means that you can't pull the kids out of school mid-year if you get relocatted somewhere else because schools don't refund the amount. The playschool and nursery in which Ishi is ask you to pay the fees for one entire semester at once, the school she will be next year does it quarterly. We can afford it, but I still would prefer it as amonthly thing for so many other reasons and yes it's not fair for those with a tighter budget. I seriously think that the governement nation wide should step in and stop schools from opperating as businesses that go only after the money and do not care about much more than that. I read in the paper recently that the playschool and nursery sector is not even having a signle regulation into place for teacher qualification, school carpet area and basic sanitation, which mean anybody can open a school in their backyard without any qualifications as such.

  12. No I am not familiar with the slang in uestion, but Delhi Belly is not a kid friendly movie so it doesn't matter, kids should not be made to dance on such songs :-(

    I really think that the Bollywood song theme is the ultimate lazy option in schools, as I am typing these words my daughter is watching the DVD fromt he school dance and I am once more subjected to that horrid "I want you in my room" song


Blog Archive