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After HAMB, Let's Relax In a Convocation Congregation!

Discussion in 'Wednesdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    The Convocation Congregation!

    The very first convocation I attended, after my own in circa 1978, proved to be an educative experience. It was my daughter’s convocation where I and my beloved wife were the guests.

    The girls who had completed their degree course in April 2006 came back to their Alma Mater to don the academic robes and receive their diplomas. The usual highlights of the function, convocation address for example, did not make an impression on me.

    The Chief Guest, a very learned academician and an acclaimed historian with more than a dozen books to his credit, read his printed speech in such a fashion to make me doubt whether he had the English speech transliterated in his mother tongue. The Principal’s list of the college’s achievements made a few girls appaud and most of the parents yawn.

    But by just looking around I could see so much. First, the girls themselves. some 900 girls were in the huge auditorium - all in their academic robes which poorly concealed the exquisite silk sarees beneath them. Their looks were enhanced by the beautifully strung jasmine flowers adorning their hair. In addition to that there were a lot of liveried NCC and NSS volunteers in plenty regulating the crowd. Beauty in its unrestricted abundance! I for one was naïve enough to share this comment with my wife of 23 years and got a prompt slap on my shoulders as an immediate reward.

    Some of the girls were still brimming with youthful zest, some looked tired and exhausted, some with a look of assurance (and even mild arrogance) because they had landed in plum jobs, some happy, some sad and some uncertain about their feelings. Some of the graduates and many of the post-graduates were married women. They had tell-tale signs of newly married status all over them. Looking a little more plumpier for a student, the strident sindhoor climbing up all the way to the middle of their heads and a generally tired look gave them away.

    One girl was pregnant. Should have been her seventh or eighth month. The black robes could not cover her child-laden tummy. I am sure when she holds her child and caresses her she would coo into her ears,

    “My cutie doll! You know, when I went to get my degree, you were with me, , perched in mamas tommy. And you kicked your mama at the moment I got my diploma that my smile towards the Chief Guest became a wince of pain.”

    It took some time for the Chief Guest to arrive. In the meanwhile the graduating girls had a ball of a time. They were trying to capture their friends in their cellphone cameras, a charmingly innocent attempt to hold on to the friendships. Not knowing the harsh rule of reality that when new friendships and new relationships come their way, the old ones will gradually wither away. But ten months out in the open world had not been enough for them to forge strong relationships. The old bonds were still strong.

    Some girls were hugging each other never leaving their best friend even for a moment. I saw two girls from the BBA hugging each other almost throughout the four-hour long function.

    When the function was over and we were walking out of the giant-sized stadium I could see a few auto-rickshaw drivers and loadmen beaming proudly besides their graduate-daughters.

    They had brought in their own photographers who were eagerly capturing the proud moment for posterity. For them their girls getting a degree is as significant an achievement as getting a nobel prize is for a scientist or writer.

    I very much regretted the fact that I was after all a writer and not a painter. For had I been a painter I would have made an oil painting of the face of a fifty plus autorickshaw driver fondly looking at his daughter in her academic regalia. His face was very rich in expression – pride, a sense of accomplishment, paternal affection and even a tinge of uncertainty as to how he was going to marry off his well-educated daughter.

    But the real highlight of the function for me was meeting an old friend whose name was Ganesan. We were in the same school, same class for 6 years – 1968-1974. He was the most teased student in my class. When we were in 11<sup>th</sup> grade (the SSLC of the olden days) once the class-bully spilled acid over his head making him shriek in pain.

    He could not afford to study beyond SSLC. And was forced by family circumstances to take up the job of a waiter in a hotel. When I and my client had booked a room in the Tamilnadu Hotel to discuss his upcoming project (that was in the 90s) I saw Ganesan there. I recognised him and he was ver happy about it. Once in a way we used to meet on the road and chat.

    He was there in the function. I called him and made him sit by my side. He was beaming all the way. His only daughter was graduating on that day. He did not talk much. But I could see his mind. He has given to his child what he did not receive from his parents. To me that was a real achievement to be honoured and a real success to be celebrated. All the rest now looked like inessential trivia to me.


    Varalotti Rengasamy
     
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  2. jothi

    jothi Senior IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    Loved reading the convocation write up. Nice way to relax after HAMB post. The picture that you have painted about the girls lined up for their convocation is delightful. It was as if like I was one of the guests. I could picture the whole congregation gathered.
    Meeting your friend there after a long time must have been such a pleasure. There are so many parents like Ganesan and the autorickshaw driver, these days in India who bend over backwards to get the education for their kids, which they did not get.
    I once saw a piece on Indian education in TV.. People here in America got some info on India when President Bush vistied India. In that piece they portrayed an Indian child going to college somewhere in a remote place near Chennai, whose parents were both day labourers. The irony of this story is that, that family owned a desktop computer in their home which was a hut. Those parents made it possible to get their child a computer for his education.
    I remember seeing Mr. Bill Gates speak about the importance Indian parents give for the education of their kids these days. This is definitely one of the reasons why all those MNC companies come to India.

    Thanks for another beautiful write up.
    Regards,
    Jothi.
     
  3. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    A beautiful write up about the convocation. I sitll remember my first graduation ceremony. It was way back in school ( 10th) and it was such a beautiful experience and very moving indeed.
    Nowadays, i think people from all walks of life in India have started giving importance to education. I do remember in the not so distant past, when the parents used to force their kids to work , instead of studying, for the few extra rupees that they would bring in. I do feel the pride that the Auto driver and your school friend must have felt seeing his child hold the degree in her hand.

    I totally loved this article . Although i do think a lot can be left unsaid about the convocation speeches in any convocation!!

    Vandhana
     
  4. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    Yes Sridhar,

    Yet another poignant piece from you.

    Funnily enough, I never got a chance to attend my own convocation. All the time, I used to dream about it and we friends had all sorts of plans for it. But then, by that time, I was married and away from India. Had no opportunity to attend one in India. I had to wait all the years till my own daughters attended their convocation, which was a special thrill and celebration.

    It is so typical of you that you would note all the others and register some special emotions.

    Thanks to you, we got to share it with you.

    L, Kamla
     
  5. safa

    safa Bronze IL'ite

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    It was indeed a delightful reading!
    The girls in the silk sari and jasmine are always a pleasant sight. Brought memories of college days, where we all were interested to wear sari on special occasions. Later, seeing the pregnant student raised some motherly love and compassion. How sweet is that moment when the mother talks to the unborn child and enjoying the kicks from him? But my thoughts grew for a while, and reached your previous thread. It is today’s pregnant student, the sweet mother, later changes the monster in law for some one... The baby who was a part of her body, to whom she talked sweet words, enjoyed his movements, suffered much pain for him. No wonder, why she showed some possessiveness.

    By the end, I saw my father’s contentment in your friend. My father, a student of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:State><st1:place>Victoria</st1:place></st1:State> stopped his studies to carry the burden of his family’s financial difficulties and joined in the army. He tried hard to get good education for us. But he always remained as a dream less person. Just live his life, help others with whatever he could, and no desire for any thing. That is his policy. Thank God, my experience with him always helps me to lead a simple life without having many wishes.
    Sorry for mixing up this post with the HAMB thread.
     
  6. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    That was a lovely piece....felt as if i also attended the convocation....all the emotions from all angles were captured very well by you....be it the friends, students, young brides or expectant mothers, notto mentionyour friend and the other proud fathers! Wow the hall must have been full of emotions and you have noted, felt and shared it in your inimitable style. Very relaxing indeed!:2thumbsup:
     
  7. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Jothi!

    Dear Jothi,

    Thanks. I needed the relaxation more than you. Hence this post. The Indian parents might not bequeath millions to their heirs; but they make education
    their top priority.

    In the 60s when the food supply in India was not enough, there were families who sacrificed part of their food to give their children a good education. Even now the people in the lower income group do it.

    But I can see a problem with the software engineer couples where both the spouses are working. They sure give their best to their children. But what they can give is only money and not the time. I am really concerned over their pampered children who are materially blessed but spiritually deprived because their parents are not there when they want them.

    Thanks once again for your participation.
    regards,
    sridhar
     
  8. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Vandhana!

    Dear Vandhana,

    I have a policy. Any meeting you attend, what you think as the main attraction will not actually be so. Something totally unthought of would become the major attraction. I have seen that in meetings like these, in professional seminars, in club meetings, almost every where. Thats the secret of life.

    While we have the right to hope for good to happen, we do not have the right to insist that it should come only from a pre-designated source. The best strategty is to have an open mind and to keep your eyes wide open.

    That is how I went to the convovaction meeting and thats why I came back witha full heart.

    Happy to know that this has kindled the "malarum ninaivukal" in you. When I finished my degree in 1978 we did not have a convocation in the college and I was upset. Then somewhere in December of that year I got a letter from the University asking me to attend the convocation in person. I was surprised. Then I learnt that the University had the practice of inviting the first rank holders in every degree for the convocation. I got the degree from the then Governor of Tamilnadu Prabhudoss Patwari.
    Yes, people in India now have their priorities right. Education is the top priority here. MNCs are flocking to India as you have talented, English-speaking employees available in abundance at a fraction of the cost they usually pay in the US.
    Thanks for your participation Vandhana,
    regards,
    sridhar
     
  9. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Kamla!

    To attend ones own convocation is happiness and to attend one's children's convocation is ecstacy. You missed out on the happiness part but were twice blessed on the ecstasy part.

    I am sure God will shower His choicest blessings on you to ensure that you attend Mira's convocation.

    My wife always complains that at a public place I always watch others (she says especially women) But thats where I get all my stories. Not that stories do happen before my eyes and I transcribe them. Seeing some strange faces, some beautiful and some ugly, my imagination would run riot and by the time I come home to my laptop, my mind will be brimming with a hundred stories. I will pick up two or three and then develop them.

    Thanks Kamla.
    Love,
    sridhar
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Not Mixed Up, Seena!

    Thanks Seena for the post. It is really strange that as students, as teenagers, girls love to wear saree. But as they grow up, as they become wives and mothers many have the desire to wear jeans, shirts and trousers and the like.

    You have mixed up but have made a significant point when you talked of the mother's possessiveness which finally breeds not just the boy but the HAMB. Love at times changes into posssessiveness because it has not learnt the art of letting go.

    The air that goes into a multi-holed bamboo tube if it does not come out of it becomes petrified. But if it comes out it becomes music and the bamboo tube becomes a flute. As you pay the flute you need to let out the air. If the flautist becomes attached to the air that he blocks it then music ceases. Agony starts.

    It was really touching knowing about your father. Such men are rare in this world. May he ever remain blessed.

    regards,
    sridhar
     

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