The show must go on …

The show must go on …

What does one do when the chief guest of the event of the year  just doesn’t turn up on time? What if you get the news that the that person will probably be half an hour late? And what if that half hour stretches on to become two full hours?

That’s not something that you’re going to find in a press handout, so here’s the real story of what happened and how a show that was meant to be over in 90 minutes, stretched on for three hours.

Here’s what the usual newsmongers wrote, and, of course, since the next few lines are written by an intern from SXCMT, forgive the purple prose:

The Annual Day programme of St. Xavier’s College of Management and Technology was celebrated on 5 September, 2021. It was an evening studded with beautiful performances from students and encouragement from prominent personalities. Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr Tarkishore Prasad was invited as the chief guest who applauded the students for their enthusiasm towards both academics and co curricular activities and encouraged them with his words of wisdom.

As the event coincided with Teachers’ Day, Mr Tarkishore Prasad also pointed out the role of teachers which shapes the life of a student, and has significant power to ignite young minds. Expanding his views he added that a teacher must also be a friend of the student, so as to nurture them not only in academics but in life lessons as well. Mentioning the New Education Policy that is in full run to be implemented, Mr Tarkishore Prasad added that it will make possible the dream for an India which is self-reliant. “

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Now here’s what actually took place. Audience fidgeting in their seats. Everybody is raring to go. Anchors backstage going through their lines. Then a man with a worried looking face appears and whispers, “The chief guest is still delivering a speech at Patna City, some 10 kilometres away. He’ll never make it on time.”

Somebody else grumbles, “I knew this. How can you expect a Bihari politician to be on time?”

A third person says, “Never mind, the hall is still filling up. Guests are still arriving. This is Bihar. Nobody expects an event to start on the dot. Fifteen minutes delay will be condoned.”

As time dragged on in the Kalam hall, and the repetitive instrumental music began to get a bit annoying. Somebody hurries up and whispers to the technical team, “Play some videos of the college.” Meanwhile two rows of differently speech and hearing impaired kids  from Asha Deep are signing their disappointment and bewilderment to one another.

Some promotional videos come on, and some of the boredom wears off. A number of people in the audience are busy watching stuff or texting on their cell phones. C’est la vie.

Exactly half an hour later, St. Xavier’s just couldn’t disrespect their guests in the audience any longer. The programme kicked off without the politician Chief guest. Present on the dais was the Archbishop of Patna, the erstwhile speaker of the Bihar Assembly, and the principal of one of the city’s well known schools.

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The programme commenced with the usual lighting of the lamp ceremony by the guest of honour, Most Reverend  Sebastian Kallupura, Archbishop of Patna Archdiocese; Erstwhile speaker of the Bihar Legislative Assembly, Mr Uday Narayan Choudhary, and special guest, Ms Marykutty Thomas, Principal of St Karen’s Higher Secondary School, and also SXCMT Principal Rev Dr Tomy Nishaant SJ, Acting rector Rev Dr Martin Poras SJ, and representatives from the teaching and support staff of the college.

Lighting of the lamp was accompanied by a  prayer dance by Assistant Professor, Ms Sabeela Rasheed and group.

As the evening unfolded, the anchors and organisers made creative last minute changes, so as to keep the programme flowing. The guests dropped their ‘pearls of wisdom’, certificates were distributed for different streams, but outside the Kalam Hall, the tension was palpable.

Where was the chief guest? Would he come at all? What would happen if all the items ran out before he arrived? The programme list was being revised by the minute. There should be something for the Deputy Chief minister to see!

Inside, the dance performances,  went on. Speeches, certificates, a mime performance.

Outside, there was a murmur of relief. The Deputy Chief minister would be arriving in about 20 minutes. But the items on stage wouldn’t last that long.

Suddenly, thanks to the quick thinking of the organiser, the scheduled programme was interrupted for some quick ‘Teacher’s day’ impromptu fun. Students sang, recited some lines, a professor obliged with a song. The programme stretched out a little bit.

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Outside, the reception party got ready to welcome the arriving dignitary, who rolled in with the usual retinue that Ministers usually flaunt.

The show could come to its logical end. The annual report was presented. The college singing club belted out “Heal the World. The Chief guest pontificated, as you have already read above. The major awards were presented, and the vote of thanks proposed.

Then the grand finale erupted : a dance drama on the theme of the year.

The annual Day event was pronounced an unqualified success.

The principal of a teacher training college in Jasidih, who was in the audience said, “I have often been to college functions where the audience was kept waiting for hours just because the organisers were afraid to start because they feared that the important politician would feel insulted. I never seen an event so well handled. The dignity of the audience and the other guests who came on time was maintained, and at the same time the Deputy Chief Minister did not miss the best parts of the evening. I salute the dedication and discipline of the students and the staff!

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