Lunch – The Most Important Period in School

“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”, is a popular saying in the Western World. In India, it should read, “breakfast like a prince, lunch like an emperor and dinner like a king”.
Our obsession with lunch manifests itself in many ways, one being the Six-Sigma acknowledged “dabba” system, which delivers tiffin-boxes across the length and breadth of Mumbai, along with a large number of private carriers and peons who carry warmer “dabbas” for those who don’t want their food cold.
Our “emperor” lunches have many consequences, the most important perhaps being the significant diversion of blood from our brains to our stomachs, which in turn induces an almost instantaneous post-prandial, soporific state, the effect of which becomes quite evident in the general slow-down in most of our work-places in the afternoons. The worst hit is usually the first post-lunch speaker during a conference, who keeps wondering why he is lecturing a bunch of drooping heads and closed eyelids.
This “lunch” obsession of ours also finds an echo in our schools, with many parents falling over themselves to prepare the most elaborate of meals for their children. Some of these parents also land up in school to hand-feed their wards, a few even laying down mats and cutlery, “picnic” style.
Last week, at a PTA meeting in one of Matunga’s premier schools, the new Principal laid down the law in no uncertain terms, showing off a strictness that may not be out of place when dealing with Matunga/Sion/Wadala parents. Among other issues, he discussed the lunch hour and said that the school henceforth would not allow parents and guardians unlimited and free access to their children and that they would have to stay in a specific, enclosed area from where the kids could come and pick up their dabbas, lunches, etc.
The moment the floor opened for questions and the first couple of comments related to learning disabilities and “authentic” and “non-authentic” doctors were swept out of the way, the discussion became completely focused on the “lunch” issue, each questioning and commenting parent claiming to represent many others, in the hope of adding more validity to his/her comments and views.
The unifying thread was that parents had to be allowed to feed their children. Some needed to do this so that their children could be given necessary medicines, which apparently only they and no one else could administer. Some others wanted to be around to make sure that their precious offspring were not injured during the remainder of the lunch hour while playing; one parent apparently had been recently bit by a ball while standing on the sidelines and wanted the kids’ play to be better supervised, not understanding that this was just the kind of excuse the school needed to restrict parental encroachment.
The best comment, which was immediately endorsed by another parent, came towards the end. “Why don’t we change the timings so that school starts one hour earlier, and ends by 2.30PM, so that all the kids can come home for lunch and then rest and sleep? This way everyone is happy.” I guess this is one more way to train our kids to believe that the end of a working day should be a large, sumptuous lunch.
As we were all leaving, I overhead a parent, who like me must have found the proceedings quite “interesting”. “I guess, school for many is just another ‘lunch’ place, with incidental teaching periods before and after”. That made my day!

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared.Required fields are marked *