10 exciting things that you can only learn by growing up in India

by neo

Calmness is the cradle of power

“He probably doesn’t have an ear for melody, so just put him in the Tabla class. But don’t buy a Tabla until he’s practiced on the dinner table for six months” – Music teacher at a prominent music school in Mumbai.

These were the inspiring words that started Neo’s musical education at the age of six. For the next several years, Neo learned Tabla from a “guru” who had been driven half-crazy by seeing his beloved musical instrument being badgered to death every Wednesday by a group of 6-13 year olds.

more Bandra (Mumbai suburb) views

But the truly exciting learning opportunities for Neo came on the other six days of the week, when Neo ran amok “played downstairs” in the parking lot of an otherwise un-noteworthy 20-floor Mumbai apartment building.

These are some of the exciting thing Neo learned from all those years of unsupervised fun:

Diwali 2009

1. Make fun, not war: During Diwali, never light a “rocket” near a slum dwelling. If the rocket sets fire to a hut, it could start multilingual hawker. There are always lots of nicer balloons near your parents’ bed, plus for some reason they also freak grown-ups out when inflated.

3. Corporate hierarchy: The guy who owns the bat is never out. Also, your brand new cricket bat will last much longer if you never use it – that’s why mommy never lets you take it downstairs.

4. Women are crazy: Girls are irritating at first because they want to play the same games as boys, but suck at it. And then just when the guys think “hey it would be fun to play all sorts of games with the girls”, the girls suddenly stop wanting to play. This is very puzzling for the boys, and a source of great amusement for the girls.

Why so serious?

5. Self-defense: Your ability to use fancy English swear words will typically not outlast your opponents ability to kick you repeatedly in the nuts. Especially if the opponent does not speak English.

6. Academics matter: When Mr. Radhakrishnan is not home, Mrs. Radhakrishnan likes to call boys to her home to eat “biscuits” and do other fun activities. But she only calls you after you reach 10th grade. So it is very important to study hard and reach 10th grade.

7. Automobiles: Marbles in fuel tanks work much better than just random rocks.

Mumbai Dog

8. Animal kingdom: Ignore what the science teacher tells you about butterflies. The only species of wildlife that are not already extinct are: crows, lizards, cows and dogs.

9. Project planning: If you are trying to get your ball from underneath a parked car, make sure you let the driver know that you’re under the car, in case he decides to start driving just when you’re under it.

10. The secret to happiness: A regular gola-sharbat costs Rs. 5. The “special gola-sharbat” costs Rs. 100 and is basically just a regular gola-sharbat with some ayurvedic whitish-brown powder sprinkled on it, which makes you feel really happy – at least for the next hour or three.


(.. and then one day you realize that you’re more likely to have a third cup of coffee rather than a third beer – that’s when you know you’ve grown up.)

Was your childhood in India as educational ? What’s the most exciting thing you learned ? And, as your spouse probably wants to know – are you sure your childhood is really even over ? Let Neo know in the comments.

Epilogue: As it turned out, Neo was perfectly capable of understanding melody and went on to teach himself to play the keyboard by ear. His Tabla guru eventually left the profession and went back to his banking job, and back to loving the Tabla again.

(The special gola-sharbat now costs Rs. 350.)

Here’s your moment of zen:

PS: Apparently, while the kids in India are learning important lessons about life, the kids in the US are having way too much fun. As Surekha complains:

My friends went for bally class in school (in the US). There in school premises 13 -14 years students were openly doing romance.My friend with kids was waiting outside the restroom but few teen age studen’s went before them inside restroom and didn’t came out for long and after long time they came out screaming and was doing hi 5 to their out side friends. Small kids watching this was shame.

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