The party usually was held during the last months of the academic year. While most of us stuck to traditional Indian dresses, some would turn up with mind blowingly stunning western dresses. This was a time when enemies became friends for a few hours. Suddenly, you found yourself decorating tables with people you hadn't spoken to in months!
Decorating the classrooms started during the break. The classroom door used to be shut and someone would be made to stand near the door, so that no one other than us knew what was going on. We blew balloons and hung them around the class. We swept all desks and benches to the sides of the classrooms to make space in the middle. We would sweep the whole class and remove any kind of dirt and rubbish strewn on the floor. We hung a “Welcome All” Banner on the front door of our class. There was color all around. Colorful balloons, colorful food, colorful dresses worn by students.
The teachers table was kept in the middle. The table had a huge cake, with the Class Name emblazoned on it.. This used to be the center of attraction. The cake was surrounded by the delicacies the students brought. Biriyani was the other show stopper. The delicious Biryani was ALWAYS made by my mother, maybe because everyone knew her expertise in making Biryanis. Alongside the Biryani, my mom made her famous Spaghetti. And so, year after year, I was always in charge of getting Biryani and Spaghetti on the party table. There used to be ice cream which we used to order few minutes before the party kicked off. The tantalizing aroma of colorful sweets was another thing that made us stay till the last bell of the day. These sweets were distributed at the end of the party. We all stayed back right till the end, just so that we could enjoy the scrumptious sweets.
Often one of us would bring a camera to the party. At that time, cameras were rare. And so, this camera was shared by two to three other classes. Each class would request for the camera and reserve it before the party even started! And so, this single camera captured unforgettable memories of not one person or one class, but three entire classes! The girl who owned the camera would be kind enough to take a print-out of all the photos taken from her camera, and we paid her to get a copy of them. We would then happily take it home to show our parents the fun we had at the party.
The camera was not the only thing we learnt to share. We shared everything, from balloons to cameras to sweets to finally the responsibility of cleaning the classes. Indeed, it wasn't uncommon for us to help other classes clean up their mess, if we were done with sorting our class.
Just like old times, today’s kids too are all charged up before a class party. Perhaps this is where the similarity between my school days, and today’s school days ends. Today, the children make sure that their gadgets are ready before the party. All their iPhones, iPads and tablets are all charged 100% the night before. Nobody really carries a ‘proper camera’ anymore. And, they don’t really wait like we used to, to get our hands on the photos. The moment they are clicked, they are instantly uploaded on the social networking sites. Anyone can easily download these pictures on their gadgets and show them to their parents by just flicking a finger across the phone screen. How different are these times than the days when we had to patiently wait for days to get our hands on the photos!
Even the food has become different at today’s parties. Instead of preparing for the food a week before, students get most of the food from restaurants! The food no longer has the unique tastes (or love) each of our mothers would infuse into the varied dishes.
Apart from this, there have been many changing trends in today’s class parties. The photographs taken from the parties are mere artificial poses and pouts. I do not see any genuine fun and revelry in today’s so called ‘class parties’.
I really doubt if the good old days will be back, because innovation makes it impossible to go back to the old fashioned ways. Surely, new inventions and technological breakthroughs have made school life a lot better today. But there is a downside to all this technological advancement. Today, students rely too much on gadgets. And without them, they don’t know what to do. They no longer have the patience to wait - to click photos, to upload them, to help their moms prepare wholesome food, to share a camera, to clean up the classrooms once they’re done and finally to have some genuine old fashioned fun! And sadly, this has lowered the value of our ‘Once a Year Class Parties’ - that we looked forward to year after year.
In the end, all I can say is that I feel blessed to be in that generation that I STILL get excited when someone calls and talks to me about our old school class parties. Oh those good old days! *SIGHS*
- Shifa Hameed