If a bunch of young people, with good lives and plenty of great things to do, dropped everything they were doing just to put up a show for you, a stunning show with incredible horse riding skills, risky motorcycle stunts and life threatening aerobatics, and if the only thing they expected from you in return was, well nothing, wouldn’t you at least give them a round of applause? A simple gesture of appreciation, an easy act of putting your hands together and clapping? Seriously! Could people show at least that much respect for these undaunted, brave and impossibly debonair young men, all of 19 years or younger, giving you a bite sized demonstration of the limits they would go to, to make sure you and your family stay alive and free!!
Of all bad things technology has done to our generation, I would term this, by far the worst. I was angry, I was sad. But most of all, I was downright baffled! Could this really be?
Yes, by now, I’m sure you guys are yelling at me to get to the damn point.
Okay, lets start over. A few months ago, 29th November 2014 to be precise, I was at the National Defence Academy, to attend the Passing Out Parade of their 127th course. My brother along with his coursemates was passing out of NDA , having completed the rigorous three year training (rigorous being a gross understatement though), and on his way to becoming an IAF pilot.
The National Defence Academy is an elite institute, the only one in India and one of very few in the world, that trains cadets of all three forces, the Army, Navy and Air Force, together. I’m sure you already know that it is one of the most prestigious institutes of our nation and being a cadet here means a lot to these boys.
The NDA passing out parade takes place when a batch completes its three year combined military training, before moving on to the specific Army, Navy or Air Force training academies. This parade is the crowning glory of these cadets’ time at NDA, of their journey here, a backbreaking, agonizing, at times insufferable journey of physical hard work that pushes the body and mind to the very extreme, and then, pushes some more. For three years, these cadets condition their body and mind to endure the hardest life can throw at them. Running 20 kilometers every morning followed by about 200 push-ups, 200 sit ups and a couple of hundred other somethings, just in the name of warming up, is a daily morning affair. There’s much more to the extreme physical hard work but that’s another post for another day.
After having done all that and more for three years comes the passing out parade. NDA believes that parents and families of these cadets have made a great sacrifice by committing their children to the service of our nation and hence, deserve a special mention. So the passing out ceremony is actually a two day affair, where on the first day, the cadets put up a brilliant show for us, the families. The show features stunning acts of horseriding, parajumping, aerobatics, acrobatics, motorcycling and gymnastics. All top notch, the kind you see on TV, maybe better. In addition, they also put up a dramatized demonstration of a few battle techniques.
Just being able to witness these extraordinary cadets in action is an honor. The strength, finesse and sheer power these guys exude is intoxicating. Add to it the military band music and you just wanna get up and start marching. But to my utter astonishment, the folks sitting there in that stadium could not even care to put their hands together, let alone want to march.
Everyone out there, flashing there fancy cellphones, trying to be the next Akira Kurosava, was busy taking pictures and videos of the event.
Whats wrong with that you ask? Well, nothing. We all wanted to capture all that we could on video and take it back with us. But all of it, really? People just holding up their phone and absentmindedly looking at the real action? And completely ignoring a basic etiquette of an audience? Clap. That’s it. Simple enough? There are horses and riders jumping through firey hoops for gods sake. And they’re doing it just for your viewing pleasure. They gain nothing from it. Its not even an event you paid to attend.
What if you went to a Taylor Swift concert, and numbly sat there listening to her songs, and making a video, you reckon she’d be happy with that? Well, she aint coming back to your city my friend.
But that would never happen would it? People love Taylor Swift. The hard work and soul she puts into her music is endearing. And yet, brilliant young boys who could have gone to any college they desired and come out with eight-figure salary packages, chose to become Military officers and die for our country instead. That’s not endearing enough! I’m appalled, really.
I have seen this happen at several other places too. People are so busy clicking pictures and making videos these days, that they forget to applaud, sing Happy Birthday or quite simply, enjoy the moment. Its quite sad really. Balance! Balance is everything. Prioritize. Take important pictures, capture crucial moments on video. But make time to join in the festivities too. And camera or no camera, enough with the lukewarm responses. Wake up and understand the etiquette of an audience. Thou shalt’ clap your hands. People put in a lot of hard work to entertain, please or educate you. It takes a lot to get up on stage and perform. Please show your appreciation. Always clap. An applause can bring so much joy to a performer so why not spread the joy. What could you possibly lose. Clapping improves blood circulation and activates close to forty pressure points making you alert, active and beautiful – so say experts. So go on people, show some love.