Saturday, January 22, 2011

KGS: Hello World! I am Grammarian Scum

nun lucerna pedibus meis verbum tuum et lumen semitis meis
Thy word is a lantern unto my feet and a light unto my paths.
-Jerome’s Latin Vulgate (405 AD)

Ever so often, in both my professional and personal life I am  pointedly reminded of one thing. Not that I am Desi, Shia Muslim, Wear Glasses or that I have a complete lack of rhythm, but that I am a Grammarian.; hence Elitist Ass Kicking Scum. Not that I particularly mind, being the recipient of the best educational institution in the country has its advantages. Chiefly that the uniform doesn't make one look like an idiot. White shirt with Grey Tussar trousers....and no emblem. The fact that its a kick ass school helps too.


Karachi Grammar School has, as most educational institutions that one is forced to attend for a decade or so, has shaped my upbringing, my opportunities and even my friends. It's without competition, the best School in the country (sorry young pretenders, look on the bright side, second place is wide open). It's because of this privileged experience and subsequent exposure that I have often been lectured that a  being a Grammarian, is a responsibility, a privilege and as cliched as it sounds, a burden. Much is given, much more is expected.

I thrive in it, I love it and damn it, I'm proud of it. Yes, you read right. I, a decent man in my mid-twenties am still damn proud of where I went to High School. I'd staple the fact onto my head if it weren't for the fact that I'm so Grammarian that the minute I start talking, people assume it. On the rare occasions that I somewhat reluctantly mention (it's bad manners to brag) that I went to Karachi Grammar School, the audience eyes widen and an envious glint tends to exhibit itself in a rather disconcerting way. A quick self check tends to validate that my clothes are still on and I'm not dancing in a burlesque club (Thank God, I was not kidding about the sense of rhythm). It rather creepy when someone looks at you with that crazed 'are you an Alien' look. I get better treatment from the good folks at Homeland Security (USA). Atleast they are satisfied after the initial pat down.

Now since I'm a Grammarian, hence a minority, even though not quite an endangered species, I still contend that one ought to defend those rights and remove those popular misconceptions about my 'species'. Apparently Grammarians are a species, I'm guessing Elvin.

I'm sure most Grammarian vs. Other School fights are sparked to life by an inherent curiosity if Grammarians bleed like the rest of Pakistan. We do. The blood is a Royal Purple though. Damn, we're so misunderstood.

Popular conceptions about Grammarians:

1. We're Shallow Snobs; We think we're better than everyone else. Now, every school has it's crowd of Shallow Snobs, Grammar is no different, at least ours can make some modicum of sense. It's called, prestige with a healthy side order of  'I don't give a shit.' Super Size please?

Benazir Bhutto: Grammarian Alumni

On a serious note, when everyone treats you like you're the direct progeny of Albert Einstein, you're bound to develop some airs. After a point, you tend to be drawn to people who go through that same experience. It's tough, particularly when you're not even old enough to drive (legally, or reach the gas pedal for that matter). Its not snobbery, it's just human, we are drawn to others with a similarity of habits. Saddam Hussein and Attila the Hun would have also gotten along famously....if they both were smart enough to get into Grammar School.   

2. Weak Food Processing Durability: We get sick from an old fashioned street bun kebab. Weak stomachs and all that, the addiction to mineral water aside, yes we do tend to consume hygienic food, it's certainly a massive cause for shame. We'll just wallow in misery as our life expectancy outlast the rest of the population. Though in some circles one could contend that we're simply averaging the life expectancy up. True Patriots! Take that World Health Statistics!

3. We can't speak Urdu: Largely True, mine sucks, and as much it must pain me to admit, my Urdu speaking scale generally reflect the average Grammarian level. I know for a fact that my version of Urdu adds countless thousands of rupees to my net spending. Thankfully, by being a Grammarian, I tend to earn countless thousands of rupees personal conclusion being .....So freaking what? Pump up the Economy me and my peeps do. On a side note, our Urdu isn't as bad as most people think, if you don't believe me, check out the number of A's we score in our O'Levels. It's totally Mash'allah.

4. We have accents: I never quite understood this one. Just because we (by in large) don't speak with a desi jhutt (slang) to all of our pronunciations, speaks volumes of our ability to enunciate. Sue me, we prefer pronouncing words correctly. As God, the Queen of England and my 8th Grade English Language Teacher Mrs. Tahir (who despite describing most of my behavior in words like Audacity and Temerity actually quite liked me) intended. Personally I rather blame all of the other language teachers in Pakistan, they obviously didn't grow up with the luxury of watching copious amounts of Mind Your Language, Yes Minister and Hugh Grant.

5. We all take Tuition Classes: Apparently being academic superstars isn't quite as impressive if you are getting extra help outside school. However, I'd like to point out that so does everyone else, we're quite the academic trendsetters. Next up, Grammarians will become fantastic alcoholics....oops, we've already got that reputation signed sealed and delivered. I wonder if parents blame Grammarians for extensively liberalizing their Wannabe Grammarian kids.....

We're also that Elitist Save the World Cretins Too!
Working harder and putting that extra academic effort also tends to explains why KGS students do better than most other schools. It's not rocket science. We have 6 hours of regular school in a day and on average another 4 hours of homework. So, it's not that we're just overtly smarter (which we would humbly admit that we are), we've also developed this mildly useful thing called work ethic. 

6. We're all super smart: It is no secret that Karachi Grammar School is the most  competitive school to gain admission into in Pakistan. On admission form collection days, parents tend to outnumber the entire student body. We call it, we only want the best of the best syndrome. Choosy lot we are. That is unless you have some political birth right, odds are that you need substantial levels of brain power to be accepted. Admittedly, we tend to discriminate on ability, it's called a meritocracy. After all, you can't fix stupid. Inequality is soooooo unfair.

How many Grammarian girls can you fit into a car?....A World Record Number Infact

7. Grammarians are Westernized: We are just as proud of being Pakistani as anyone else, and believe or not we have alot more to lose if Pakistan doesn't emerge from it's perpetual crisis state than most other people.  A fair proportion of Grammarians do leave Pakistan to pursue a future elsewhere, but most do make their homes here in Pakistan. True some of us may pick up western habits like fancy new designer clothes or a penchant for civilized behavior, but hey, a few chai's at Cafe Clifton, Dinners at BBQ tonight and the odd trip to Sunday Bazaar solves that. I personally recommend a healthy addiction to Slice Mango Juice, Apple Sidra and Pakola Lime.

8. We're All Rich: Contrary to the lines of cars one sees outside the Grammar campuses in Saddar and Boat Basin, the student body of KGS is actually fairly diverse along both socio economic and religious lines. In terms of fees the school is actually the cheapest amongst it's peers (haha, that's assuming we even had peers, which we don't). On top of the lower fees, there are also numerous scholarships for students that are based solely on merit. We take the brilliant and make them even better. That's our modus operandi, if the perception exists that all Grammarians are rich, it's because the student body that emerges excels in every field it meanders into....and that usually result in a pretty substantive payoff. That's a testament to the dogged Grammarian spirit and the reputation of the educational institution. 

9. We have the best looking girls: Yes. Guilty as charged. It's the reason that every male child works so damn hard to get into KGS. It's all about the Chicitas. Pity the ladies tend to be of the smart variety. Tip: Learn some sappy sonnets.  

10. We have an unfair advantage in Life. Yep, we do. That's what we get for being Awesome.

Kofi Annan: Grammarian Alumni
Contrary to popular opinion, no one is born a Grammarian, they earn it, through perseverance, excellence, and a dash of style. All satire aside, you make your own place in the world, being a Grammarian and learning the lessons the institution has to offer just gives you a stronger starting point. The rest is up to your  personal drive, ambition and character. We're just lucky that we tend to attract those who have it in abundance.

Let the Grammarian Hating Begin.

For more information on Karachi Grammar School: