Last night we were treated to front row seats at the most spectacular show I think I’ve ever been to. 5,000 children and young people, dressed in the most elaborate costumes performed a series of highly choreographed dances to mark the opening of the 12th International Convention on Student Quality Control Circles (their equivalent to school councils). The event had clearly been months in the planning and having once tried to get 30 primary school children to do a simple routine that involved moving in the same direction at exactly the same time I couldn’t believe how much rehearsal it must have taken to get 5,000 children to move as one – some of the children couldn’t have been more than 7 years old but they remembered every step, it was truly impressive and showed incredible teamwork.
This ability to the same thing as everyone else at the same time is something I’ve been having trouble with since arriving in India. We have a very strict timetable and have escorts that accompany us everywhere to ensure we are in the correct place at the correct time. Whilst this is clearly necessary to ensure the smooth running of the conference (and everything is like clockwork) it also seems to be cultural. Having lived in other countries where being alone is considered highly undesirable and collective action always preferred over individualism it seems there is a similar feeling here. It is only when I am forced to do as everyone else is doing that I realise how much of a product I am of the ‘Thatcher’ generation and how much I value my individual freedom.
However watching the beautiful synchronised movements of the children last night I wonder if there is something to be said for moving in the same direction as everyone else at the same time.