Life In An International School: The Hard Truths Our Diplomats Ought To Study

By Mahmood Abdul Fathah

abdulfathahuniversity@gmail.com

Published in The Companion

What’s bizarre about the tight roping classrooms of International schools in Saudi Arabia while there is a procession of Indian schools at your doorstep?  They all have what a typical Indian educationist wouldn’t deign to mention i.e. the Indian syllabi, avowed quality and unassailable discipline.

While the “Indian School“ itself could make all of us batter under its sheer heterogeneity, I am left with a sole difference of Greens, Yellows and other nationals. It is there company you are denied at Indian schools and often suppressed in a desperate bid to hold on to high dose of nationalist sentiments. The Greens and Yellows for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis respectively are really one of that quotidian diction in the gnawing mundanity of Malayali life circle. And especially when the place around those Malayali migrants are dotted with a congested – audible mob of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. Being an ardent admirer of cricket, seeing them in light and dark greens, it was an unappetizing attempt for me to devour this linguistic continuum Keralites use to speak the filthiest about them, let alone its deeper meanings.

Now I must say, honestly that it is in an international school we abscond with all these farcical – masquerading colors and go after our prickly innocence that unevenly disturb the state sponsored fault lines on which these words are built on. Sitting here with a foreigner out of arms reach, hastily copy pasting the day’s home work, it haunts us to see tensions escalate at borders between India and Pakistan. And more to see the imperturbable diplomats who show no sign of abating spewing venom at each other, unfortunate that their childhood rarely left a trail of amiability abroad. Not that I fear any irking demeanor I will ensue from my fellow companion, but the agonizing realization of how our white collar diplomats  still nurture this insipid figment, now a point of sarcasm for all of us at the ad hoc dining tables of our 15 minute breakfast break.

My first apprehension about my eccentric peers was that they weren’t, as my acquiescent mind has long mirrored from our lopsided media, genuine Pakistanis. This is because their overt negation of Taliban’s venomous politics misses the verve of seeing a pro-Taliban Pakistani I have long awaited for. I admit that you are likely to reason with me on how these well-heeled Pakistanis are tone deaf to the niceties of Pakistan’s poverty marred countryside. May be that is true for a few, but I have a steadfast belief that most of them who hail from the Chota Pakistan’s ( a congested colony of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia)  half shack neighborhood profoundly conceive their country.

During our initial years at schools, we had between us harsh exchange of slurs, brewing often out of our childish bellicosity and more out of our popular prejudices. The most obscene scene is their blind persistence of stereotyping the whole Indians as practicing the cults of Hindus. Then they would side with yes-boss children from other Muslim majority countries and fuddle at how we Muslims in “Hindu country” stoop to these traditions. Nevertheless, the original bite of these exchanges  soon gave way to mutual understanding for the rest of our school life’s rich pageant, as we segued through mankind’s rich matrix, shared history and a moral revulsion at how division cast numbness upon the same. Now I must say, there were times when I found much aligned with them in the cultural row than our Indian counterparts, at times when intercultural dialogues that mostly end futile could spiral in unforeseen ways before our evasive social science teacher who desperately tries to strike a balance.

Now, if hard-nosed skeptics heap contempt on me for my “anti- nationalism”, my disarming confession is that my revealing was nothing other than an Indian psyche’s uncontrollable scruple at seeing the latter always pulled out of our circles.  One such occasion is when your dilettante teacher pore over NCERT’s borderline skirmishes that still lingers around the syllabi of our international school; sparing no time to dig at them, as if the most solemn move you could take to dump your patriotism.  It is here for the first time I saw education sans wisdom plaguing us all the way, like weary twigs protruding out of lovely roses, things we think would freed as from all decadence.

I acknowledge that some of these images in our textbooks are facts and are to be leaved as they are. But it is equally obtrusive that some are equivocal, letting you forsake some for an unscrupulous advantage. And from my vantage point, territorial differences are an uber-tool to do so and our primary education underneath many such unwarranted facts, many in which our yellow-green neighbors are always victimized.  So, Why not set up an environment, a syllabus that would facilitate our little ones to interact with them and build on each other.  After all, diplomatic attempts bear fruit only when individuals themselves could free from these prejudices and sink their differences.

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