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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CBSE, could you please answer some questions?

 That I am writing a post devoted to the doings, nee wrong doings, of the  Central Board of Secondary Education should in itself show the gravity of the situation for the students caught in the quagmire of inefficiency, ineptness and babudom that passes off as the premier educational board of our country.

 CBSE has a lot of explaining to do this year :

 1. I agree that CBSE is within its rights to change the structure of different papers- as has been done this year. But should CBSE not have ensured that the schools and subject teachers were well informed and well trained for the changes?

 2.Was any workshop held for the subject teachers in which the teachers were made aware of the pattern changes and type of application /HOTS questions that would be asked this year?

 3. To prepare the teachers for the level of difficulty this year were they asked to give internal departmental tests/exams? This would have been the ideal way to prepare the teachers -who in turn could have taught accordingly and set half yearly and pre board papers accordingly.

 4. Traditionally the pre board papers are tougher than the board papers. I would want the CBSE to show even a single pre board paper which has the same difficulty level as the Maths paper of 2015.

 5.The learned people who set the Maths  and Physics 2015 CBSE paper need to tell us if they themselves sat down to answer these papers  and if yes, could they answer it in the stipulated 3 hours?

 6. According to the  TOI dt. 19/03/205 the officiating CBSE Chairman has said that the Maths paper will be sent to the evaluation committee before deciding the marking scheme. Shouldn't the evaluation committee have vetted the level of difficulty of the paper of  such an important exam before it was given to hapless 17 year olds who were reduced to tears?Or  was  this one of the objectives of  the CBSE? To check the level of toughness of the candidates?

7.The sadism exhibited by CBSE in setting the Time Table for the board exams also needs to be explained. When was the last time that there was a gap of only 2 days between Physics and Chemistry? And only 1 day gap between Maths and Economics? And this is when CBSE was in the know of the level of difficulty for this year?

 8.. I understand that directions to CBSE come from the HRD minister and our honourable HRD minister has been lucky enough to make it to where she is without a college degree- oops! I forgot the Yale 'degree'- but most of the children are not going to strike gold without college. And now CBSE has ensured that dreams of a good college education remain just that- a dream !

9. I know that now there will be talk of leniency in marking/ grace marks etc. But is that the fair and correct way?Are the students whose future is at stake here going to be at the mercy of ad hoc grace/lenient marking?And who is going to decide this marking scheme? You see, CBSE does not even have a director right now. And because it does not have a head it will continue to act like a headless chicken. Except that the students and we ,the parents, are not laughing. The headless chicken has left us in tears.

Friday, March 13, 2015

When black is beautiful and grey is passe

There I was, just waiting politely and prudently for a petite young lady walking a huge German Shepherd to cross the road when an excited hey wafted over to me. I smiled at the friend I was meeting after a couple of months but her first sentence was, ' you look ninety! what's with all the grey hair showing?' Never having mastered the art of insouciance my ,'weaning myself away from hair colors' came out all defensive and apologetic.There, standing on one side of the road, she read me a riot act on the perils of letting myself go to the dogs. Well, she didn't say in so many words go to the dogs but the picture she painted left me with no option but to understand that I was inviting trouble by allowing the grey in my hair to show. 

I tottered home only to find my elder sister ensconced elegantly on my living room sofa. She looked me up and down  and in that one summation conveyed what a thousand words possibly could not have. She talked of everything under the sun and never once mentioned grey but when leaving, in the sisterly act of  hugging me,  she whispered  in my ears ' I am booking  you at my salon for a hair make over'.  

Listen, whatever happened to au naturel ? Is all that talk of weaning ourselves away from chemicals simply hogwash? Convinced that it is only the women who notice all that is  inconsequential  I bring up the subject with the husband later that evening. I start in the normal way:

Me: How am I looking these days? 

He: ( keeping to the tradition of answering a question by asking another) What happened? hope you are feeling o.k?

Me:  ( a tad impatiently) I am fine. Just tell me how I am looking these days.

He: Oh ! you will be fine. Naturally,with your being so preoccupied with the son's 12th and all that you haven't had the time to look after yourself ...once you get your hair and all done you will be back to looking normal...

He goes back to watching the Karan Thapar show and I pick up the phone to make an appointment with my salon.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Here is why you will be missed, Mr Vinod Mehta !

 For wearing your  love  for Lucknow on your sleeves,
 For being the last man left standing against the  BJP ( though truth be told you half deserted your own ship after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections),
 For demonstrating true loyalty by carrying on to be the one and only vocal supporter of ' the first  family',
 For valiantly coming on Arnab's show time and again,
 For putting on a brave face in the face of all the hate mail you received from the supporters of the party you loved to hate,
 For  making Outlook a truly readable magazine four times a month,
 For living life king size,
For leaving us with sweet and funny memories,
 For all these and I am sure many more that I, only a random reader, am missing out on, you will be missed.

 There are magazines and then there are magazines and all of them ,I suppose, have an editor but none of them have two editors. And this is where you scored, Mr Mehta. Outlook had you as an editor and you brought along with you tales of your editor at home and this is how I will always remember closing my week's copy of  Outlook- by reading the tailpiece on Editor's antics.

8th  March,2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

Looking beyond the worst case scenario

If you were ever asked about a worst case scenario what would your reply be? It would of course be linked to an event, experience, situation or relationship one was going through at that period of time. In other words worst case scenarios are not static but change in tune with our change and movement ahead. Also, when one thinks of such a scenario one thinks of the worst that can happen. But what happens if events hurtle beyond one’s imagination of the worst case?

 By now the whole world, my whole world, knows that I am not to be disturbed. This knowledge is but a natural corollary of my chant uninterrupted for the last 365 days or so. Yes, for close to a year I have had only one sentence spilling out of my mouth, “I really can’t. You see it’s the son’s 12th”.

So, when at work I was asked to handle an extra assignment I trilled happily, “really can’t-it’s my son’s 12th”. Then my sister rung up to say that all of us- sisters and husbands and kids should take a holiday together. I opened my mouth to say the idea was pretty neat but what came out was,” really can’t….” Elder sisters are known to pull no punches and my elder sister gave me an earful of how I was obsessed, how I made her nephews ( my son) life miserable, how considering it was only May with full 9 months to go for the boards I was being absolutely unreasonable etc . Now, the point is I knew I was being silly but being ticked off only makes one compound one’s silliness. So I stuck to my guns and my chant of it being the year of the 12th.

Then early July the maid announced that she wanted to go on leave. I was honestly taken aback and surprise made my voice quiver when I said,” how can you do this now? You know it is the year of the 12th”. The maid, equally clearly taken aback by the sheer force of feelings in those words nodded and mumbled something about not realizing the gravity and tottered off to pour her heart out to the other maids in the park.

This saga continued for almost the whole of 2014. Museum visits were put off, garden society meetings skipped, blog neglected, and my favourite 9 p.m movies sacrificed…. I could see the husband and daughter confabulating in muted voices and the son himself all irked and clueless about ‘how to tackle mom’ but with the fervour and zeal of a born again evangelist I plodded on in my mission of ‘I have to put my best foot forward in being a good mom and doing my best for the 12th’.

Just a few days before THE exams the husband came and sat next to me ( normal) and smiled( still normal) and said that he had been thinking( not so normal) of how the Indian education system is so flawed and so skewed ( not at all normal for him to spout such strong views) and how we really should not expect much from our son- after all how could anyone blossom and perform in a system that sucks so…I  heard him out, nodding at all the right moments and not one to be left behind in the moment of enlightenment said that he was absolutely right and so on and so forth. The husband, clearly relieved at forestalling his worst case scenario (of my breaking down when the results came out) went off but left me ruminating on my own worst fears.

The day of the exam arrived with a sky that had flung its arms generously outwards to allow rain full access and liberty to Delhi. The exam centre is about 30 minutes drive from our place but being no stranger to  traffic snarls in times of rain it was decided that departure time should be an hour and a half  before the start of the exam. The father son duo left home and I gave a sigh of relief that chalo, now that the exams are starting they will soon finish and I would be free to do the various things I had put on hold. Just then the phone rang. It was the husband. There was a mother of all traffic jams and there was no chance of it clearing up.

Worst  case? The worst case I had been thinking about the whole year was the outcome- the marks. The possibility that the son  may not even reach to give the exam? Nah, never ever thought of that.

Well, the son did reach – almost on time. The family chipped in in a big way and all but airlifted him and dropped him. But I have finally come to my senses and realized that spending  one’s life in dreading outcomes and fearing the worst is a no brainer because ‘worst’ is also a very subjective and relative place to be in. Bottom line- savour and live every minute.