from vedic maths to table manners

It was PTM day last Thursday! This was a an open house working PTM, a little different from the customary ones. This time we were all shepherded to a classroom where the Principal, we were told, would address us. We were given a paper to read, one that listed the school’s achievements in the past year and plans for the one to come. I must admit many of us felt that this was a preamble to a fee increase and were a tad apprehensive.

After a long wait as parents were few and slowly trickling in, the Principal arrived and the meeting began. I must admit that we all wished be very short as we wanted to be with the kids. They of course kept passing in front of the opened door trying to catch our eye. But we kept sitting stoically our faces serious. The young Principal began by highlighting the past year’s achievements that were many and laudable: the school had been awarded the Best Boarding School in Delhi award and many of its children had won cups and prizes. Then it was time to know about the coming year. We were told that there would be a new gymnasium, a reading and resource centre, space technology classes, vedic maths, tennis football and more. We were also informed about the fact that soft skills would be taught from class III: table manners, telephone etiquette, anger management and more. That is when the Principal gently told us that there would be no added costs and believe you me every one in the room heaved a sigh of silent relief.

The meeting ended and we were offered some refreshment. But we wre all in a hurry to go and hig our kids. It was then time to get the term results – as always the children had done exceedingly well – meet the teachers and staff members, click the customary snapshots and then finally steal some time with the kids. Most of our children’s parents had also arrived and everyone sat in the winter sun with their little ones. I too rewarded myself to a few moments with Utpal who was busy playing with my grandson Agastya. We played a little, ate the goodies we had brought and soon it was time to go.

As always the ride back was in silence. I was lost in my thoughts. Just a few years or months ago the eight project why wards that were today thriving and blooming in this school, lived in abysmal conditions. In hovels where you barely had space to move, where manners and tables belonged to another world and you were lucky if you had a plate and here they were all set to learn table manners and etiquette. Wow! What a miracle! My thoughts wandered back to the day when two socialite ladies had expressed their outrage at our nerve to be sending slum kids to a proper school. I wished I could tell them that not only were they in school, but were all set to learn dining manners and table etiquette! Would love to see their faces!

Yes we had made the right decision and selected the best school. These slum kids were on the way to conquering a new world and I knew they would succeed. I must admit I felt smug and could not help smiling.