Heck! How could he dismiss it as outright boring? ‘He’ being my 11-year old son who is five days into his summer vacations. “Sounds like a boring book on national integration,” he said. I was aghast. I was telling him of our innovative summer activities 30 years ago, from those carefree childhood years spent in a wonderfully cosmopolitan Jamshedpur in the early 1970s.
We four sisters had Marwaris, Malayalis, Biharis, Tamilians, Bengalis and others, as friends. Every summer after school closed, we’d conceive a cultural programme in which every colony child was ensured participation. Costumes were meticulously chosen, invitation cards designed and handed to parents. The weeks whizzed past.
A microcosm of India’s diverse and culturally rich heritage went on stage. An amazing achievement, considering that right from the concept of hosting such an event to each and every other aspect, it was all the handiwork of children between 3 and 13.
Cut to summer 2007. My son hints about most of his classmates heading to the cooler climes of the Alps, or chilling out in Australia and/or New Zealand — or at the least, cruising in Malaysia or Singapore. I tell him that such trips cost a lifetime’s savings for me. “Well, can I at least dash across to Bangalore/Pune/Chennai to have a blast with my cousins?” he pleads. The ‘dash’ doesn’t come cheap either. “In that case, can I go swimming every day like my friends?” Do I risk telling him about the exorbitant club membership costs, I wonder.
Thankfully, for the moment, he has signed up for free football coaching. That should last three weeks.