Ravi ki duniya

Ravi ki duniya

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Gone are the days when grandma and aunties used to move around liberally sprinkling the blessings of begetting seven sons to al those, who cared. In return daughters-in-law blushed and visibly felt grateful. When this blessing bore fruit in my household, it was obviously a cause for pain and anxiety in more ways than one. Freshers (parents) would endorse my perception that each tiny tot today demands a hamper, preferably a gift hamper won by the infant or the proud mother to be. This hamper should ideally contain mobile (of course next generation model) maruti (again latest version) and mouse (of laptop kind, for P.C. is already a passé) and membership of a disc (short for disco, we thought we had already shortened discotheque to disco and it couldn’t be shortened further)
First thing first, the emergent need as I felt was that of his admission to a public school. Basically, I toe the line whenever and whatever and feel immensely comfortable in doing so. A great protagonist of status-quo – a distinct feature of the middle class man that I am. Therefore, one fine evening equipped with a long list of schools, I set for hitherto, uncharted route just like Gulliver. First school I visited, the car parking itself was overcrowded and they had hung a board of ‘No Admission’ there itself. Crane operators were doing overtime in towing away the prized catch. Everyone was rushing towards the school campus as the watchman was about to close the main gate. We were breathless, nonetheless joyously pranking like kids. As soon as we stepped in, the main gate automatically snapped shut.
A young father with a sheepish grin was distributing sweets to the crowd. Last year he could not make it and the main gate was shut on his face. The onlookers who were on the wrong side of the gate were giving us envious looks. One gate in between had split us into Haves and Have-nots. We felt as if we were the latest heartthrob film stars and were there to play a night cricket match.
The guy next to me in the queue dressed like an M.t.v. VJ disclosed that he is into a ‘live-in’ relationship for the last couple of years but his ‘gal’ has refused any more truck with him unless he succeeds in obtaining a prospectus of this school. ‘Dough is no probs’ he said. She too was a product of this school.

This school is most expensive, hence, most prestigious and sought after. It has half a dozen film actors, a dozen industrialists and a large number of dropouts to be proud of, who have made it big in whatever avocation they entered into be it politics, extortion or car-racing.

No sooner the counter opened, it was closed. Only lucky few succeeded in getting the form blank, others were turned blank, though they kept addressing the counter clerk as sir, Saab, uncle, maibaap, grandpa etc. Everyone had some reference or name to ‘drop’. “ I am sent by Grover”, “Mrs. Malhotra has sent me “, “ I come from CM house”, “ I am from PMO”, “I am from Police HQ” etc. etc. The counter clerk was trained in not showing any signs of listening to them much less appear impressed by such utterances.
Come what may. All those who didn’t get form were moaning, sobbing and in no time began crying loudly.
But quite a few hadn’t lost their nerves and were busy frantically calling on their cell while rushing to next school in their list. Everyone was in a haste to drive out first. It was like a car chasing scene from a western thriller. The whole site resembled as if Godzilla has entered the town.

I had succeeded in roping in quite a few of my relations, friends, neighbors and office colleagues to help me in obtaining prospectus of as many schools as humanly possible. To each one I had promised as per his ability, from a lavish treat in the neighboring fast food joint to out-of-promotions By the end of the month, I had collected prospectus of half a dozen schools. I had already got 150 copies of passport size photographs of my child, wife and myself individually as well as in group; one never knows what they might ask for. More than required numbers of copies of our marriage certificate, ration card, tax returns duly attested by gazetted officer were stacked at home. I had taken two months leave from office. Early in the morning, we would get up, visit different temples, offering our prayers. Every alternate day my wife was observing a fast. After we failed ‘miserably’ in one of the school tests she had avowed to undertake pilgrimage of all the four ‘Dhams’. The school which has ‘failed’ us was as luxurious as a private heart care institute. All quiet. Although the test was very easy containing simple questions yet it remained a mystery how and why we couldn’t make it.

I had, with great efforts managed several recommendatory letters from local legislator to old ‘pals’ of the Princi but to no avail. In all these schools, we could never come across face to face with the Principal. Thus, there was no close encounter of the third kind. Principals were either out of station or awfully busy while in station. So many times, we were fired “No” at a close range by PTI type persons that I was beginning to actually have nightmares. Night after night, I saw this dream. Dressed like a cowboy, I would gallop into Princi’s chamber on a horseback and shoot non-stop even before he could press the bell to call the peon (obviously to throw me out)

In several schools, I came across the Princis who were more interested to know all about parents, the ministry or the industry they worked for than the child-to-be-admitted. Businessmen loitering in the corridors of schools with a check book in one hand and pan masala in the other were a common sight. Parents would dash straight from the beauty parlors. Who knows? Princi might ‘fall’ for sheer presentability or good looks if not the good report card. The beauty parlors, particularly the ones in the vicinity of schools were doing brisk business. Parents were also known for indulging in lot of mumbo-jumbo. Many consulted the black magic practitioners. Children were made to drink ‘holy water’ before they entered the examination hall for admission test. City was agog with ‘kirtans’And ‘jagrans’ through which gods were being approached to do the needful.

Celebrations were galore. Band and music groups were doing shift duties like in a busy marriage season. Parents whose ward couldn’t figure in the admission list of any respectable school had gone underground due to depression. De novo critical analysis was being done as to where the fatal ‘slip’ occurred. Detailed blue print for next year’s ‘dos and don’ts’ was being debated furiously. The debate that was to keep them going till the next admission season.

So long!

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