TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

Race To School

This year I’ve noticed a super-war erupting in “school-ware” for children. I was a new parent this time last year, and was busy with swaddles, diapers and drool. This year, school re-opening has been positioned as a festival, with multiple players jostling for weekend-magazine space! It seems to be gaining dimensions of the fabled Coke-Pepsi cola war!

Famous clothing companies are furiously launching their latest range across the UAE; from uniforms  to shoes to bags to stationery! Other rivals are appealing to the imaginative side of children by pasting popular cartoon characters on anything that be used. There also are some big surprises thrown in like bundle offers and international holiday packages – all for getting back to school!

As the programming director of an Asian radio station, I am involved in a campaign for one such brand that is appealing to children this season. I am party to this hoop-la! Radio is just one space that companies are using to market themselves. Prime time TV slots are fought for, for prominence and recall. In the racing line-up, most glossy magazines have pink-lipped children modelling the latest wares! Will certainly pull at every parents’ heart strings.

The pull is also felt sharply on the purse strings. These don’t come cheap. Compare, if you will, the prices of children’s clothing against adult clothing. And you will notice that the difference between the two is the cost of a pizza meal for two.

The other day, I almost picked up a box of colour-pencils with the Dark Knight (original drawing) on it. My 13-month son is too young to use them and I have given up drawing! I was giving in not for art, but perhaps clip-art!

Parents, I understand, get sucked into this vortex. Some oblige their kids while some crumble under peer pressure. Let’s face it, school re-opening after summer holidays is not Christmas! So then, what is the reason for such excitement and happiness? I hated school re-openings. And am not sure getting a new school bag or uniform would make me change my mind. In reality, my parents were too middle class to succumb to peer pressure and buy me stuff. So, I learnt to maintain my current stuff and, not shove my ink pen in my white shirt pocket.

That said, today, a completely new generation is unfolding its wings. Probably they like going back to school. And maybe new Velcro shoes, matching backpack and lunchbox would make them feel happy.

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