Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Indian Time

We were invited to attend Matendla School’s equivalent of a PTA meeting this evening. The fortnightly meeting includes ten parents, two village vice-presidents, the head of Matendla, and a handful of teachers, students, and sometimes alumni. Although not everyone is involved in the discussion, there are many groups represented to maintain transparency. In accordance with the national law requiring 33% of seats be reserved for women, there are a few mothers on the committee. However, their attendance is hampered by the fact that when meetings are held during the day the women are usually working in the fields, and when the meetings are held in the evening the women are working at home. But the women are on the committee, so the law is upheld, and all is well . . .

I should preface this account with the explanation that RDF holds punctuality as one of its three core values. Having mostly experienced life within the RDF schools and organization, I had not yet been exposed to the phenomenon of “Indian Time.”

Tonight’s meeting was scheduled to be held from 7-8pm. As we are leaving our room at 7, Puroshatam tells us to come over at 7.30 instead. At 7.30 we arrive to a room with several teachers, a few students, and two villagers. Vishnu, the head of the school, is on the phone tracking down other committee members who have yet to arrive. By 8pm one more has arrived and two are on their way. Cue musical interlude. Tabala (bongo-type drums), cymbals, tambourine, and hand-drum appear out of nowhere and the entire group sings in call and response style for the next thirty minutes. When the meeting finally starts at 8.45, nearly two hours later than scheduled, I think to myself that this sort of delay isn’t so bad if there is a spontaneous concert every time!

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