Yesterday I was in my favorite department store, Pothy’s, where they always have a seasonal display when you walk in the main door. Yesterday, it was BACK TO SCHOOL. Here in the south of India, school’s opening coincides with the monsoon, around June 1. [Not sure there is a comparison to be made, but have YOU seen the inside of a kindergarten classroom the first few weeks??? Natural disasters have prettier faces.]
I’ve always loved shopping for school supplies, either with fellow teacher sister R, or the annual ritual of an early August morning trip to Target with Daughters #1 and #2. I love to see the display, check out the cool stuff, and get goofy folders with text-ese on them, or precious puppies (the kids, not me), or whatever the fad is. I would like to point out a couple of India-specific items that made my perusal even more pleasurable.
First, every child must be outfitted with a tiffin box. Tiffin boxes are used to bring hot meals to people at their jobs, and have several compartments and stories. For the kids’ version, check out first the sneaky copyright infringement (Happy Birds instead of Angry Birds, even though the face is the same) then the Japanese animé borrowing with the cute bunnies “taking a walk”, the compartments so the rice and the curries don’t meet prematurely, and even the cut-out hearts on the utensils. There is even a retro classic version in stainless steel. I had to buy one, the bunnies, yet I have no use for it. Inexplicable but there you are.
Next I noticed small chalkboards that were plentiful, so I guess they are for the younger students to do their maths (that’s what they say here, not math) or write “Hello” to the teacher. Cute, but I wonder how they hold up. BTW, check out the faux-pencil cases, which are really games! Some of the games are on the top of the box, and others are hidden inside. Nice touch!
Third was a great variety of notebooks, but they have a leg up on the American versions. They have collectibles. Why didn’t WE think of that? There is a series of famous Indian monuments, crafts of the world (I wanted them ALL), and famous places around the world. How do they ever decide?
|Pretend Pencil Cases that really have games on them. Genius.|
|Slate boards, modernized|
Finally, there is another item unique to the south of India, little plastic decorated umbrellas for getting drenched on the way to school. I still can’t quite picture how the kids will get to school during a monsoon downpour, but everyone assures me it’s manageable, although several people also add that sometimes the CM (Chief Minister, similar to the governor the state) announces a school postponement of a week because of heavy rains. It doesn’t matter if it’s early out, late start, or cancellation, for rain, snow, sleet or blistering heat, every kid in the world warms to the idea that there is a Deus Ex Machina out there that can intercede when the reality of school just seems too much.