To really feel Independence Day, you have to be in school. Or have school-going kids or be with people who have such. My mother was chief guest at a school today for their Independence Day celebration. Her description made me as sharply nostalgic for my days of marching in my house in the parade, as I suspect it made her for her days of organising these events. This is the only chief guest I know of whose speech was actually addressed to the students assembled before her rather than into the middle distance. She told them what it specifically meant to be born into an independent country and that what they got out of it depended on themselves, not anyone else.
I went to register myself at the local election office a few days ago and found:
• Government officials have turned polite, efficient and punctual.
• Government procedures are still shrouded in mystery, myth and legend, but less than before.
• Government information is no longer guarded by malevolent spirits and three-headed beasts – it's freely available on detailed Government websites.
• Someone I studied with earns 4% of my salary. She has the same degree I have, the same general background, started with the same lack of influence, old-boy network, money or any other special aids. But she was handicapped briefly by a traumatic marriage, which would explain some of it. There but for fortune, maybe.
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