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Innocence of a child

I have often been dumb struck by some of the questions that my daughter asks me. What I heard from her a couple of days back was one of the best.

Courtesy: gocolumbiamo.com

It was a slightly unusual morning… We woke up to some kind of commotion from the kitchen. Apparently, my mom had placed an apple by mistake on the kitchen counter top the previous night and it seemed like a rat had visited, eaten a portion of the apple. She was so upset about Rat at home (particularly in the kitchen) and was telling all of us about what happened… Basically just the usual reaction from anyone when they find Rat’s presence at home and all the usual reaction…

But a very unusual response came from my daughter after hearing my mom and seeing the half eaten apple. She said, “Paati (grandma)… Rat has a small mouth, imagine the difficulty it would have had in eating such a big piece like this…” She questioned my mom, “Why did you not cut them into pieces so that the Rat could have eaten it easily… Every time you ask me to eat apples you cut them into pieces… When you give me Chappathi (Indian Bread), you cut them into pieces…”

I was pleasantly surprised at this comment from my daughter. While all of us where worried about what else could have happened, should we clean some of the vessels on the counter top, how to prevent the rat from coming again, my daughter was actually concerned about the Rat and how to make its job easier while eating.

It is quite surprising how we all have grown up being so self-centered and sometimes have to be reminded by a child to be concerned for others.

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Where a law abiding citizen is considered impractical

Like many I wanted to own a property in a city where I grew up. I came back from the US with a lot of promise and aspiration to buy an apartment (Condominium) in Chennai, India – The place where I grew up and lived most part of my life… But it has been 6 months since I returned, the aspiration or dream has not come true.

Well there are several constraints such as location, size, layout, price (of course) that I have to play with to strike a balance make some compromises. If these were the only one, I would have been already living in my own apartment. But there is one constraint I did not think of and is outside of my ability to manage that still prevents me from buying a house – Deviation: Floor plan approval vs actual.

What is a deviation – There are several types of deviations in constructing a house. But in simple terms it is called ‘breaking the law’. The local government authority (in my case CMDA) stipulates guidelines on how a house/apartment needs to be constructed. If you see most of these rules are primarily for safety reasons – i.e. If a house catches fire it should not quickly spread to other houses, if there is an emergency people are able to exit easily and safely, if there is an emergency a rescue vehicle is able to reach the spot, etc…

Unfortunately almost all the builders do not comply with these guidelines. They believe these rules are not practical and cannot be followed. As a matter of fact, I booked an apartment with a leading builder. When we started verifying the papers, there was a difference of 147 sq feet between the CMDA approval and the salable area (Thanks to my wife for the good catch – If not for her thorough verification, I may have missed it). When enquired, they were candid and mentioned that deviation is very common and that I was the only person to make a big deal out of it. Well I did make a big deal out of it and got my money back.

One of the main reasons this is happening is because buyers ‘don’t care’. There is a lot of money out there in the hands of people and they just want to invest. There is absolute madness with respect to real estate in Chennai. There are a lot of issues with this attitude which I want to deal with in another blog. But the least I would expect people to do is to check if what they are buying is according to law.

It is a horrible and nauseating feeling that people care so much about Vasthu compliant houses but not approval compliant houses. You may even see builders advertising saying that their apartments are Vasthu compliant but there are very very very few who can claim that their house as approval compliant.

Well am not going to give up. I will continue to insist on CMDA approval compliant apartment/house. At worst what could happen?? I may not be able to buy a house, people may call me impractical. Atleast I know I did not break the law and that I was a good citizen who does not think that the rules are only for others and not for me.

Our Experience with UKG School admission in chennai

It has been almost 6 months since I have written a blog… So I was looking for a topic. It was like searching for ghee with butter in hand… This is school admission season so I could not think of a better topic..

Last few months have been an absolutely emotional roller coaster ride for all of us in the family. One of the reasons we came back to India for good was to put our daughter in a school. I have been both looking forward as well as fearing this phase of my life – Running around for my child’s school admission in India.

Believe me or not, we really did run around… Everything that one would fear about a child’s admission was there in front of us… Long lines, exorbitant application fees, horrible application issuance process, waiting for interview call, disappointment due to rejections, written test, personal interviews etc… etc… etc…

Our first step towards getting a school admission in Chennai was moving to RA Puram thinking that there are a lot of schools around this place and hence by chance or probability we should be able to secure an admission… Well obviously we were proved wrong. Some schools we applied but we did not get a call at all. Some schools we heard unofficially that they have brokers and can get admission for LKG for around Rs 75000 (Well you may know which schools am talking about… ;-))… One school, we got an interview card but the interview was atleast a couple of months later.

Finally we decided to expand our radius of school search and if need be we canshift our house. That paid off I should say. We looked for Schools in Adyar. We got interview calls from both Bharath Senior and Hindu Senior. There was a round of written test (Yes for KG, there is written test), recitation test, personal interview for parents and finally got admission in both. We finally chose to go with Hindu Senior… After a very long time, I had that sense of fear in me when I waiting for results… It was as if I have written an exam and waiting for results or as if I have attended an interview and waiting to hear back… I did have goose bumps when they called us saying Sahana has been selected and that we can pay the fees… It was an important phase of our parenthood and it was a great experience..

In the process I did feel that a couple of things need to change…

1)      Parents Attitude:

  1. Including myself, I think there is this CBSE mania in everyone’s mind. I don’t have anything against CBSE syllabus but without doing some research on whether there is a big difference between Matriculation and CBSE and seeing how relevant are those differences for our kid, I think we should not run behind something blindly. I did the same mistake but realized it later on. Everyone was running behind CBSE so, I ran too…
  2. Willingness to get a particular school’s admission at any ‘cost’ is another problem. There is a mad rush for certain schools. For such schools parents are willing to pay a hefty some of money.  We are still in a society which will take money as long as there are people willing to pay money. People talk about 75000, 100000 and more for just kinder garden admissions… It is simply unbelievable and unacceptable…

2)      Application Process

Despite all the technology advancement in all walks of our life, majority of the schools still follow pre independence processes. Admission process is largely manual where you have to stand in Que outside the school for long hours (some people come and sleep on the platform from previous night), only two or three counters, horrible amount of time to collect cash and hand over applications, etc. There are very few schools in Chennai which issue application online. Obviously not everyone is going to have internet access but it will atleast reduce the number of people standing in Que. If the concern is about collecting money, then they can simply ask us to drop a DD for the application amount when the application is submitted via drop box. In an age where even government agencies/departments are automating and going online, to see that vast majority of schools still not going online is extremely disheartening.

3) Age Limit inconsistency for KG admission

All the schools that we got application for were all CBSE. But each school has their own cut of date for age for deciding whether the child can go for LKG or UKG. This simply beats me. If the schools are all governed by Central Board syllabus, and are governed by some government educational body how can each of them have their own cut of dates. Luckily in Hindu senior the cut of date was that a child should have turned 4 by July 31st to be eligible for UKG, so Sahana is going to UKG directly. But other schools such as Sanakara, PSBB, etc have June 30th as the cut off which makes her short of eligibility by 15 days. Hence has to start from LKG… Am not insisting that she has to go UKG or LKG, but there has to be consistency across all the schools.

Anyways, our daughter has started a journey which is likely to continue for atleast another 18 to 20 years. I think, we have done our best to give her a good start :-).