Goodbye to 2008, a prime year for paramours
This years end of term prize giving is an historic first for it is being carried live on television, beginning with a warm welcome from fetchingly dressed cheerleaders. Our teachers are the best money could buy in an open auction. But as headmaster, let me admit straightaway that the last 12 months have not been easy. Our bicycle shed was vandalised by boys from the school next door. I must say the headmaster there is being extremely cooperative in response to all the evidence we have sent him. He has promised to go through our report as soon as he learns to read and write.
Let me come to the most important item on the school curriculum: cricket. In a recession hit year, runs have been especially hard to come by. This is a decision for our foreign coach, of course, but perhaps some of the senior boys, who have served the First XI well for over two decades, should consider recovering their lost form by returning to House matches and giving juniors a chance of lifting the Sourav Memorial Trophy next year.
Incidentally, it was brought to my notice that one of our cricketers suggested to a boy from a rival team that he was living proof that Darwins theory of evolution was work in progress in his case. Our boy, I am pleased to announce, has been cleared of all wrongdoing since we are a rich and powerful school. Our boy was guilty as hell but that is beside the point.
Most of you look forward to an uplifting speech this time of year from Mr Narendra Modi. But this year we were thrilled to receive an acceptance from His Excellency N.D. Tiwari to be chief guest and address this distinguished gathering. We can be sure that the frisky Governor would have risen to the challenge as he has done so often in the past. His lecture was tentatively called, The DNA of Public Affairs. Sadly, he has been detained by his duties supervising the expansion of his family firm, Paramour Studios.
Happily, the vacuum is being filled by bestselling author Pervez Musharraf, whose new book, The Komeback Kid, explains why Sourav Ganguly has been such an inspiration to the temporarily retired general, who — as we say in showbiz — is resting between coups.
Mushie, no stranger to this school, has graciously consented to distribute the prizes.
Afterwards, he will give a talk, The sword is mightier than the pen, except when I used my pen as a weapon of mass malapropism.
The Modesty Blaise Award for Humility
To Naseeruddin Shah. Asked by an editor on BBC World whether he could be introduced as the Anthony Hopkins of India, thereby placing him on a par with one of the greatest actors on the planet, a displeased Naseer shot back: This is your British complex. Why dont you describe Anthony Hopkins as the Naseeruddin Shah of England?
The Carla Bruni Prize for the Sexiest Sonnet
Nandana Sen for the lyrics to Cleavage on the Croisette.
The J.C. Bose Horticulture Prize for Plant Biology
To the sixth former from Down Under, Matthew Hayden, who recalled his initial encounter with the Indian poet-philosopher Harbhajan Singh: The first time I ever met him he was the same little obnoxious weed that he is now.
The Junior Girls Trendsetter of the Year
To ER actress Parminder Nagra, Dr Neela Rasgotra in the US soap, ER, who is expecting a baby in the US with her British photographer boyfriend James Stenson. She is apparently set to spoil her cool image by marrying him next month.
The Shoot on Sight Award for Best Film Idea
For Jagmohan Mundhra, who grew up in Calcutta and intends making an adult Bengali movie one day: I am especially partial to Bengali women. I would see them on the roof top after bath. Those images are so erotic, so beautiful. They have very nice, big eyes, they have nice, luscious hair and big appreciation for my films — my first attraction was for my art teacher, a Bengali woman. I was a late starter. I was 12.
The Ramanujan Stipend for Mathematics
To choreographer and Om Shanti Om director Farah Khan, who took a Bollywood master class in London. She revealed the formula for establishing the perfect age for the female lead: Take age of male lead and divide by two.
The Shilpa Shetty Prize for Acting
To Shah Rukh Khan who unveiled his startling waxwork duplicate at the Grevin Museum in Paris. His wife Gauri (centre, right) got a bit personal and said she couldnt tell her husband from the model.
The Withering Heights Prize for Best Movie
To Lakshmi Mittal who stars in the musical being adapted from Emily Brontes famous novel by the Tamasha Theatre Company. Transposed from the windswept Yorkshire moors to the bloodied boardrooms of Europe. According to The Guardian, the London-based boss of the worlds largest steel-maker, ArcelorMittal, has seen around £20 bn slashed from the value of his personal fortune, after falling steel prices triggered a slump in the companys share price.
The Padma Lakshmi Thinker of the Year Award
To Michael Atherton who said of Sachin Tendulkar: The archives recall not one single incriminating incident, not one drunken escapade, not one reported affair, not one spat with a team-mate or reporter. As Matthew Parris (another Times columnist) wondered of Barack Obama in these pages recently, is he human?
The Not Mills & Boon Biography of the Year
To be shared between V. S. Naipaul and Patrick French; the former for telling it like it was and the latter for putting it all into The World Is What It Is.
The Sanjay Leela Bhansali Culture Vulture Award
To choreographer Tanusree Shankars boys and girls from Calcutta who located the things that really matter while rehearsing for the opera Padmavati at the Theatre du Chatelet — the sale of ilish maachh in a Paris market.
There were many candidates for this most coveted award of the school calendar, ranging from Aravind Adiga, winner of the Booker for The White Tiger, to actor Dev Patel, 18, actress Freida Pinto, 24, (picture left) and Goan winemaker Warren Edwardes, who has come up with a Patel Pink Rose for Gujarati weddings. But since he has been ignored by the makers of the movie, Slumdog Millionaire, now in the running for an Oscar, it is worth putting on record that this project would not have been possible without the novel on which it is based. It was written while the boy was still in the fifth form. Please step forward, Vikas Swarup.