I have not enjoyed myself so much in several years. I have not laughed so much as I did in the one and a half hours this morning. Nor have I felt the kind of tingling anticipation that completely fills the heart when the screen opened each time. The event was the Annual Day of Daksha School, where Anjali goes, and it was an event that they have been preparing for and practicing for more than a month. Organised at Ravindra Bharathi, it got off to a perfect start, on dot at ten and one does not expect anything less from Anita, who is immaculate in her thought, word and deed.
We had to drop off the kids at 830 so they wore their costumes and got ready and we wondered how the teachers would keep them occupied till the show started, and through it. We were in our seats by 10 am, as indicated, Shobha, Chitra, Mythily and I, when Anita announced that the children were coping the best they could, so we could sit back and enjoy ourselves. The hall was packed, and when the first act started, one could hear a pin drop in anticipation. When the screen parted to reveal a dimly lit stage, revealing little angels from the play group dressed in white, a meditative Gandhiji spinning the wheel, and the rest clapping in tune to Gandhiji's favourite bhajan, my heart filled with an inexplicable, boundless joy, the likes of which I have not felt in years. As the bhajan progressed the tiny tots revealed themselves in all their glory - smiling, laughing, crying, running around, wandering away, looking at one another, a calm Gandhiji not deserting his seat in absolute stillness - it was a riot and I laughed so much that tears ran down my eyes, at the sheer joy of watching this spectacle of complete innocence. As I expected, the caring staff of Daksha let them be in their various moods as the song progressed. When the first act ended, there was a huge applause that almost brought the roof down!
The script was well written and the show well compered. The theme was wonderful - celebrating the vibrant hues of Indian through the dance forms from all of India. So it began with Gandhiji's bhajan, moved on to dances from the playgroup and the nurseries and then PPI and PPII. The dances included a Kahmiri dance (Bhumro), Lavani (a popular Marathi song), a lambadi dance, a Tiger dance (Kannada), a Rajasthani dance of which Anjali was part of (Dholna of Shubha Mudgal), a bhangda (Daler Mehndi's song in Punjabi), dandiya (a Gujrathi song) and one last one on national integration (Shankar Mahadevan's Suno Duniyawalon) as far as I remember. And a skit on religious tolerance and communal harmony based on an except from A.P.J.Kalam's autobiography. Throw in the Annual Report, a couple of numbers for the parents to dance on stage and it was a power packed morning. The costumes were so delightful that everyone of the kids looked so cute that one would not want the show to end at all. There was a fun Q and A session at the end when the compere Ms. Hema, who did a very efficient job, quizzed the parents on certain events that the children participated in during the year. It turned out that the Dads were not too equipped with the answers.
If there is one thing that came across clearly, it was the love and care with which the Daksha team handles the children. It shows on their faces each day when they receive and give the children, as in every act, and today it was even more apparent in the way they all pushed themselves to make everyone comfortable, to give the best training to the kids, to give them the space to make mistakes, to enjoy the participation and to let them express themselves in their own way. So even if the children missed a few moves, they would always join back, or even do their own thing in their own happy manner. Or angry manner as two lead dancers in a group were, after a small fight before the dance, and they refused to participate. It was hilarious the way Anita described the reason for their refusal to dance. From sheer joy, to dedicated dancing, to causal participation, to complete withdrawal and observation and even a few who were crying a bit, they were delightful as a whole package.
It was only fitting that Anita thanked her entire team, the teachers, the helpers, the cook, the drivers, the security, who are aunties and annas for the children and acknowledged the good work they do, which was applauded by an appreciative audience as they got on stage. They really are a special lot and it amazes me how much they push themselves each day to make the children learn simple things like taking care of the environment, not wasting power, basic manners, how to talk politely, being in tune with the flora and fauna and such other stuff. Many parents and grandparents shared their experiences and joy at how much their children love Daksha school and how much they (the parents) appreciate what the Daksha team does. I would any day recommend Daksha school to any parent wholeheartedly and unreservedly, but this blog is more about the happiness I experienced today being in such a pure, pristine environment full of good vibes. Thanks a ton Anita and your entire team - Radhika, Sunita, Shakuntala, Madhuri, Mani - some of the names I know and have overheard, and all the rest for giving us such a good time.