Forget About Dance Let S Talk About Traffic Jams Instead


 

From Sheela Raghavan
Dear son,
It’s absolutely fantastic that you have been appointed as a curator of conferences and cultural programmes at your local university. To nurture young minds, I suggest that you take into account the following:
The introduction of cultural dances to impressionable young minds … Son, banish the thought of featuring Chinese classical dances in your programme. Such performances might cause an urge in them to strut around in flowing robes or wield a Chinese fan or two as weapons, like those stars of kungfu flicks.
Never mind if that’s what is routinely done in universities around the world to foster greater understanding of cultural diversity. Instead, get hold of any passionate keris-wielding politician who fancies himself as a defender of culture and have him deliver a rambling, mind-numbing monologue to your students. While they might nod off during the lecture, you can be assured that their sense of tranquillity, augmented by a refreshing nap, will not be jeopardised in any way.
Son, it’s absolutely imperative that the topics selected by eminent cultural icons for the upcoming conference do not offend the sensibilities of Malaysians.
For example, have them talk about how traffic jams transcend race. You may wonder what traffic jams have to do with race, let alone a conference on culture. Son, the whole purpose of university is to enable students to think out of the box. By engaging them with topics such as these instead of worthy alternatives such as “dance transcends race”, we are sharpening their minds with intriguing and wildly improbable perspectives on traffic jams, a permanent facet of Malaysia’s vehicular culture.
Indeed, one might even say we are going beyond or transcending the usual discourse on traffic jams, by having it delivered by cultural doyens.
Son, I understand that the contents of your programme have to be vetted from individuals from absolutely unrelated faculties, with non-existent or perhaps abysmal knowledge of this field. Nevertheless, do apply rigorous standards in vetting your content, including the labelling of information as accurately as possible. For example, should by some unfortunate chance, the medical faculty be involved in approving your content, remember to label belly dance as “movements of the aqualiculus to the rhythmic cadences of musica” to be as accurate and inoffensive as possible.
Son, I have every confidence that your conference will be a tremendous success. I envision that it will stir the unbridled passion in every youngster; beating at the doors to attend the enticing programme line-up that you have in mind. But just in case it doesn’t, do adopt a foolproof measure to inject enthusiasm and drum up support for your cultural endeavours. Create a software with numerous glitches that routinely hang while data is being entered and spews meaningless captcha graphics. That way, you can be assured that only the most persistent or frenzied individuals who repeatedly attempt to get in, will be rewarded with a space to attend.
Well, son, I’ll catch up with you again soon. May your conference be known as THE conference of the century, worldwide, with the scintillating line-up you have planned for.
Your affectionate parent.
Sheela Raghavan is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.


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