Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Entering the System

Tuesday Breakfast : Cottage cheese stuffed freshly baked kulcha w kechup n pineapple drink
Lunch: Kadhi Pakoda , Jeera aloo, Green peas pulao, Phulka dheeme aanch se, Fried masala papad, Green salad, Rice kheer thandi thandi
Evening Drink:Strawberry shake

Wednesday Breakfast : Fresh vegetable potato cutlet w steamed green peas n oven freah muffin, rose drink
Lunch : Ghia masala curry, Amritsari Chole,Bhuna piaz pulao, Tandoori naan, Boondi raita, Garden fresh greens roundal cut, Fresh fruits.
Evening Drink : Bournvita Milk

Thursday Breakfast: Grated vegetable stuffed parantha w fresh curd, mango drink Lunch: Kadhai paneer, Channa dal Ghia, Steamed rice, Chapati, Cucumber raita, Vinegar dipped onion w hari chutney, Jalebi.
Evening Drink: Mochha Milk

Friday Breakfast : Carrot peas freshly steamed idli w sambhar n coco chutney, fresh lime juice
Lunch : Subz bhaji w butter on top, Bombay pao, Pindi channa dry w paneer cubes on top, Stuffed bhatura, Piazi raita, Bhuna jeera rice, Kesari rasmalai.
Evening Drink: Mango Shake
Million Dollars to the one who guesses what the above is...or maybe just a "The Most Aware of Whats Happening Around You Award!"
I for one had a jaw droping moment when I read the above....the jaw hit the keyboard kinda moment.....for the above is not a Luxury Hotel/Resort's Menu Card but a weekly Menu Card of a School....a school where a 3.5 or 4 year old enters primarily for the purpose of acquiring life skills....oops sorry I meant livlihood skills. When did a center of training (I do not have the heart or the mind rather, to call them Centers of Learning, though some teachers do cross that line and make it a learning experience despite the stale 'how to make a good living' syllabus, but they are few and far in between).

If one thing I am sure of, it is a head full of premature grey hair by the end of the following 4 months. The end of the coming 4-6 months will also mean return to Janmabhoomi and hopefully a satisfying end to my school search for my children who will enter the Indian School System. My search and queries have lead me to frazzled , harassed parents who have told me horror stories which can keep any parent awake. Any queries sent to the 'Contact Us'link of school websites have (not surprisingly) yielded no results. I have been told the schools do not need 'us', we need 'them'. This power play and positioning means we will do whatever 'they' ask us to do. From paying money under fancy and necessary sounding heads that are actually nothing more than shameless greedy 'donations' to being treated poorly, we take it in our stride. We accept being forced to maintain a DIH (Double Income Household), sitting for parent interviews at school and ignoring the most glaringly unethical question in the school admissons form about the income of the parents.

As a parent one is ready to sweat it out to give the best to one's child. I will happily do cartwheels around the school campus if gauranteed the best education for my child. But after paying ridiculously high fees and putting up with all that will come my way from this greedy, money making, institution, am I ensured of what is truly the best for my child. I am not expecting lessons to live life well...I know that is something I will have to do myself...gone are the days of such Gurukuls and such Gurus.
But the rising trend of Day Boarding Schools and forced lunch at school is alarming to say the least. The first such school that came up in my hometown of Jammu has a dangerously high number of obese children. Can a person who bids and wins a contract and hopes to make a profit be in a position to feed your child nourishing, nutritious and wholesome food. I have been in the hostel for both my undergrad and post grad and during PG I remember that a certain,Mr. Shetty, the Canteen Contractor was rumored to use soda in Rice and other dishes so that the students ate less and yet felt full.
A child growing up on such a diet however fancy and delicious is bound to suffer in the long run. And what is it with the long hours? It can be suitable for working moms but no one can convince me that it is good for a child to be in a structured setting for such long hours. The only thing it does is prepare the child early on for long working hours at office or lead to a case of early burn out, both physically and mentally. I do not need that kind of "smooth transition" from school to office for my children.

All I dream of is a great school. Not very far away from home. Where lunch means exchanging home made parathas with some friends idlis. A school where one makes friends, explores and grows. A place where winning is not important but doing one's best is. Values are equally cherished as academic excellence. A place where a child may falter, make mistakes but never stops learning.

P.S : Any suggestions, advise, information are more than wlecome :)