School bag at Rs.1550/-!!!!!!!!!(Shock of the year to me…)

My two kids, Vignesh and Karthik are of two extreme personalities.  The elder one, as his name is, Vignesh, is silent, looks very studious, does mischiefs that get unnoticed, and hence has a very good reputation both at home and outside.  The younger one Karthik, resembles Lord Muruga, in all his activities – Karthik is known for his eccentric characterisitcs, loud voice, hurry in doing/finishing whatever he does, and height of all things, he gets angry very quickly.  In fact, during his childhood days, I used to tease him that we kept his name as Karthik, because he was similar to Lord Muruga, in the sense that just like Lord Muruga used to get angry with Lord Shiva, and Goddess Parvathi, and go up to one Hill or the other, thereby getting his nickname as “Kundru Thorum Kaatchi Alippavan Muruganavan”, Karthik used to go to some corner of the house, and show his anger to us.

In keeping their personal belongings too, Vignesh, is very very careful about all his things.  I used to see, small small pencils, that he still uses, telling him that they were similar to “Gandhiji’s Little Pencil”.  He remembers most of the play stuff they he got during his very young years.  On the contrary, Karthik doesn’t care about his belongings, takes at least three to four pencils, 2 erasers, 2 pencil sharpeners a week.  Inspite of that, whenever we ask for something, while helping him on his studies, he wouldn’t have anything at that time.  Karthik has reached his all time heights of getting three school bags last year for the single academic year.  This year too, it is hardly the first term, that has got over, and successfully, he is on with his first bag of the year.

Vignesh, for the last three years, has kept his school bag, without any trouble, not even a tear here and there, or any zipper fault.  Just a few days back, he came up with the first complaint about his long-standing bag, that one of the main zippers has become faulty.  I was thinking of repairing the same, but his dear paternal grandmother, was telling him, that she would like to get him a bag for his 10th birthday, which is about to happen on December 7th.  Vignesh’s dad, suggested his mom, that she better gave him the money so that Vignesh can pick up a bag of his choice, and I can at the same time, approve of it so that the money is spent wisely.  Yesterday, being a Sunday, we had no other choice but to kill our time without my husband, because, he was off to a corporate meeting.  So, Vignesh and myself decided to drive down to Roshan Bag Mall, located at the heart of T.Nagar, near the famous T.Nagar bus terminus.  We went to the first floor which was having a dedicated section for school bags of different sizes.  We were looking through several models, and I was just becoming convinced with a bag, whose price tag was around Rs.670/- (plus a 10% discount on it).  I should have picked up the same, but saw a beautiful American Tourister bag.  I just thought, I will enquire the price of it, and yet settle down for the one which I had already made up my mind.  The salesperson, politely, took that bag, and kept in front of us.  He kept on speaking about its features, its quality, extended warranty, etc., etc., and Vignesh was quite naturally attracted towards that bag.  When I asked him the price, the man said, “It is Rs.1550/- but comes with a 20% discount, and hence will finally cost Rs.1240/-“.  I almost fainted when I heard the amount.  I think I paid a school fees of about Rs.40/- per month during 1979-Rs.1990, which would mean that I might have been able to pay around 3 years of my school fees.  Of course, the cost of living of those ages and today are incomparable.  Vignesh also kept telling me that these branded ones will definitely last for a longer time, and promised to keep that bag, for the next few years to follow.  Also, deep in my heart, I knew both my husband as well as my mother-in-law would definitely want to buy whatever their dear one, Vignesh, had liked, especially being his birthday gift.  We finally got him that American Tourister bag, and also two small  bags for the two of them, to take to school for their half-a-day sessions.

 

சுறுசுறுப்பாய் இருப்பவர்கள் ஆண்களா? பெண்களா?

விக்னேஷின் வகுப்பில் தமிழாசிரியர் சென்ற வாரம் பட்டிமன்றம் அறிவித்திருந்தார். பட்டிமன்ற தலைப்பு, “சுறுசுறுப்பாய் இருப்பவர்கள் ஆண்களா? பெண்களா?”.  மூன்று ஆண்களை ஆண்கள் சார்பாகவும், மூன்று பெண்களை பெண்கள் சார்பாகவும் பேச அழைத்திருந்தார்.  விக்னேஷ் அவர்களுள் ஒருவனாய்த் தேர்வாகியிருந்தான்.  பள்ளி விட்டதுமே, என்னிடம் இந்த விஷயத்தைக் கூறினான்.  நானோ, “ஆண்களே சுறுசுறுப்பானவர்கள் என்று, பெண்ணாய் இருந்து கொண்டு நான் எப்படி சொல்லித்தர முடியும்” என்றேன்.  பிறகு, வீட்டில் அன்றிரவு  தன் தந்தையிடமும் இதைப் பற்றிக் கூறவே, நான், என் கணவர், மற்றும் அவர் தாயார் அனைவரும், குறிப்புகளைச் சேகரித்து விக்னேஷிடம் கொடுத்தோம்.  மறுநாள், பள்ளியில், பட்டிமன்றம் இனிதே நடந்தேறியது.  தமிழாசிரியர் அவன் வகுப்பிலிருந்த மாணவ மாணவியரை, ஒவ்வொரு பேச்சாளருக்கும், தங்களுக்குப் பிடித்திருந்தால், வாக்களிக்குமாறு கூறியிருக்கிறார்.  விக்னேஷ் அதிக வாக்குகள் பெற்று, வென்றிருக்கிறான்.

கீரைக்காரம்மாவிடம் “க்ளோபல் வார்மிங்(Global warming)”

கார்த்திக்கின் பள்ளியில், கடந்த வாரம்,   “க்ளோபல் வார்மிங்(Global warming)” என்ற தலைப்பில் அவனது வகுப்பாசிரியை குழந்தைகளுக்கு எளிதில் புரியக்கூடிய விதத்தில் பாடம் நடத்தியுள்ளார்.  அன்று மாலை பள்ளி விட்டதுமே, கார்த்திக், என்னிடமும், தன் அண்ணனிடமும், அந்த தலைப்பைப் பற்றியே பேச்சு. “Ozone layer”, “Ozone layer depletion”, “Air Pollution” etc. etc., என்று ஒரே புலம்பல்.  வழக்கம் போல், அவர்களின், அன்றைய மாலை வகுப்புகளை முடித்துக் கொண்ட உடனே, நான் இரு குழந்தைகளுடன் காய்கறிகள், பழங்கள் ஆகியவற்றை வாங்கிக்கொண்டு, இறுதியில், கீரை விற்கும் பெண்மணியிடம் சென்றேன்.  அவரிடம், ஒரு கீரைக் கட்டை விலை பேசி, சில்லரை கொடுத்து, வாங்கிக் கொண்டு போலாம்” என்று பார்த்தால், விதி வேறு விதமாய் வேலை செய்தது. ப்ளாஸ்டிக் கவரில், கீரையைக் கொடுத்த பெண்ணிடம், கார்த்திக் சற்றே அதட்டும் குரலில், “என்னம்மா இது!!! இப்படி ப்ளாஸ்டிக் கவரில் கீரையைத் தருகிறீர்கள்! நாம் ஒவ்வொருவரும், இப்படி ஆளாளுக்கு, சுற்றுப்புறச் சூழலை மாசு படுத்தினால், ஓசோன் லேயர் என்ற பகுதி அதிவேகமாக அழிந்து வருகிறது.இப்படியே சென்றால், இன்னும் 20 வருடங்களில், நம்மைக் காக்கின்ற ஓசோன் மண்டலம் அழிந்துவிடும்.” என்றான். அதற்கு அந்த பெண்மணி,”நீ சொல்வது ஒன்றும் விளங்கவில்லையப்பா!!, உனக்கு வேண்டுமானால், நீ வீட்டிலுருந்து வரும் போதே துணிப்பை கொண்டு வா” என்றாள். கார்த்திக் சளைக்காமல், “உங்களிடம் தான் அந்த சாக்கு பை இருக்கே! அதிலே போட்டு குடுங்க…” என்றான்.  இறுதியில், நான் அன்று, கீரைக்கட்டை கையிலேயே ஏந்தி வீடு திரும்பினேன்.

கார்த்திக்கும் Airtel Super Singer Junior போட்டியாளர் ஸ்ரீகாந்த்தும்

Airtel Super Singer சீசன் – 2, போட்டி, தற்போது, மிக சுவாரஸ்யமாகச் சென்று கொண்டிருக்கிறது. அதில் கலந்து கலக்கிக் கொண்டிருக்கும், ஸ்ரீகாந்த் என்ற குழந்தை அனைவர் மனதையும், வெகுவாகக் கவர்ந்து விட்டான்.  இந்த போட்டி, தொடங்கிய சில தினங்களிலேயே, என் அலுவலகத் தோழிகள் சிலரும், என் பெரியம்மா பெண், சுமதி, ஆகியோர், என்னிடம், “ஸ்ரீகாந்த் என்று ஒரு குழந்தை, உங்கள் மகன் கார்த்திக் போலவே உள்ளான்”, எனக் கூறவே, நாங்களும், அந்த தொடரைக் கண்டு வருகிறோம்.  ஸ்ரீகாந்த்தின் முக பாவனைகளும், குறும்பு கொந்தளிக்கும் பார்வையும், கார்த்திக்கைப் போலவே உள்ளதை மறுக்க முடியவில்லை.  இன்று காலை, என் அத்தை வீட்டிற்குச் சென்ற போது, என் அத்தையும், என்னிடம், “உமா, நீ Airtel Super Singer நிகழ்ச்சி பார்த்தாயோ? கார்த்திக் மாதிரியே ஒரு சிறுவன் பாடுகிறான்” என்றார்.  ஆஹா, எத்தனை பேர்க்கு ஸ்ரீகாந்த்தைப் பார்த்த போது கார்த்திக் ஞாபகம் வந்திருக்கிறது!!!!

To hell with exams!!

Yesterday, Vignesh was to appear for his Grade 1 Piano exam, conducted by the prestigious Trinity Music College, London.  Last year, when he had to appear for the initial grade exam, my husband was in town and he took the responsibility of taking Vignesh from school, then getting him to the exam centre and back home.  This year, since my husband was not in town, I had to accompany Vignesh, whose exam was scheduled to happen at 4:13 p.m., at Musee Musicals, Mount Road, Chennai.  All the more, rains had been heavily pouring in Chennai for the past few days.  Adding to this, my younger kid, Karthik, had to be picked up from school once, the school left.  So, I engaged my usual driver, went to school around 12:30 noon, picked Vignesh, after getting the necessary permission, and we both reached the venue by 2:15 p.m.  We saw his piano master, Kumaresh Sir, who asked us to wait along with the 50 odd students & parents.  As the clock ticked, my heart too was beating, but at a faster rate….There were kids, who had come to appear for Grade 3 or Grade 4, and they were telling their past experiences to us.  Vignesh was keeping his cool, or atleast that was how he appeared to me.

That was the time I gave some thought about the exams, especially of  this nature, wherein, a child had worked, putting effort for almost a year, and ultimately, the few minutes of exam, decides his fate.  I was telling  Vignesh, that his piano exam, was like a cricket match…Inspite of a player being termed world-class, or match-winner, every match is a test for him.  He is criticized, when he doesn’t perform in one of the many matches that he plays.  Same goes with Vignesh’s test.  Although, he had toiled very hard for his piano exams, the eight to eleven minutes of test, that he was about to take, would decide on the marks that he will score in that Grade.  From the time he entered into the exam hall, until he came back, I wasn’t my own self.

I cursed myself for putting this kid, under tremendous pressure.  I could feel that he had the pressure of performing, more than enjoying music, which was the primary reason, that I had put him into training in music.

Still, deep inside my heart, I kept praying that he scored 87% or more, so that he passes the Grade I exam with distinction.

Adzap and Vignesh

Adzap!! I came across this term when I was in college.  I was around 18 or 19 years then.  But, the kids today are much aware of everything around them.  “Adzap” is a competition wherein the marketing managers(of thefuture!!) showcase their marketing talents by trying to market unusual products, with novel ideas and appealing punchlines.  Last year itself, when Vignesh, was in class IV, he formed a group of five kids of his class, and they won the inter-section competition conducted for the IV standard students of their school.  They tried great products, and were placed winners.  This year, the school is trying to form a group of students of his class, for participating in the inter-school competitions.  SO, they had asked the kids, to volunteer their names, and do an individual Adzap.  Till the last moment, Vignesh, wasn’t prepared for the show.  He was telling that he might participate only if he comes up with his own ideas.  Then, at some point, when the selection process was going on, he got a flash, and he participated, featuring his idea of a unique waterbottle, “V’s HotnCold Multipurpose Bottle”.  He has done his part for a minute in an appealing manner.  He has been shortlisted for participating as a team, for Adzap competitions.

Hurray, Vignesh has made us proud once again!!!

It has been raining heavily for the past two days at Chennai.  Yesterday, Vignesh had school, but the younger one, Karthik, whose school is comparatively at a better place than Vignesh, had holiday, as he was in smaller classes. Today when I got up around 5:30 a.m., it was pitch dark outside, and there were heavy showers with lightning as well as thunders.  So, thinking that both the kids might have holiday today, was doing my cooking in a lethargic manner.  At around 6 a.m., made Vignesh to wake up with great difficulty, and also heard from the school’s Porur Campus, that the school was functioning today.  Both of us had a heavy heart and Vignesh was slowly getting ready for the school bus. I had made vegetable biriyani for lunch, and packed the same.  Once Vignesh, left for catching his bus, my next job was to wake up Karthik, whick is more than a Herculian task.  My husband too got up early, as he was to leave early for his work today.  I thought I will check the school website to find out whether Karthik had a holiday today too.  The school website did not say anything about that.  But at the same time, my gmail alert popped up a new message, something regarding the results of HDFC Meritus Scholarship Exams 2009.  I immediately checked my inbox, and to my sweet surprise I found that Vignesh has been declared as one among the 3300 winners, out of 4.2 lakh kids, all over India, who participated in this competition.  Kudos to Vignesh.  Really feeling great today morning.

P.S. Vignesh, still doesn’t know about his feat, as he is off to school.  Waiting for the evening to come so that I can convey the news to him…

The path to his success:

This Scholarship competition was announced in Feb. 2009.  I am a salary account holder with HDFC Bank for the past 4 years.  One day, while logging on to Netbanking, I saw this contest and wanted Vignesh to participate in the same.  The rules of the contest said that there will be two rounds of telephone quiz,  which, after qualifying will lead to the final round of written test.  The final round will also take into consideration his other interests, extra curricular activities etc etc.  I had registered my mobile number and Vignesh was waiting for the first round of IVRS(Interactive Voice Response System), which will ask 10 questions, each of different level, totalling to 30 marks.  There can be a maximum of 5 attempts, but the marks scored in the final attempt will be taken as his final score for that round.  In the first round, he took the first attempt, the score was 19/30, and the second attempt resulted in 28/30.  My husband said that it is better that he stopped there, because it would be the second best score.  We waited, and got a message stating that he has qualified for the second round.  The second round, he took through the internet, and got 30/30.  We knew that for sure, he will receive a call for the last written test round.  It took place on August 16th, 2009 a Sunday, at Sri Ramakrishna Mission Boys Higher Secondary School, T. Nagar.  Actually, it has been a long time (a very lonnnnnnnnng time) since we had gone out of station.  That was a good weekend, as Aug 15th, Saturday was also a national holiday.  One of my colleagues was getting married at Trichy.  I has asked my husband, and we were of the thought, that we four, will drive down to Trichy and spend the weekend over there.  But by, Thursday, we received a message from HDFC, that the final written test was on Aug.16th.  We thought that Vignesh, should take up the final test, as he had come up to that level.  But, by Friday itself, he developed high fever, and was down.  We had taken him to the doctor, and was under medication.  That was the time that the first case of swine flu was diagnosed in India too.  SO, we were all the more worried.  On Sunday, as he looked a bit better, he said, he will take up the test, and Vignesh and myself, went to the exam centre, around 9:00 a.m.  There were a good number of students, who had come to take up the written test.  Vignesh, was as cool as he usual self.  The exam was for two hours 10:00 to 12:00.  My husband, came around 11:00 and once the exam was over, we both were pestering Vignesh, the whole way back to home, about the questions, that were asked in the paper.  He couldn’t even recollect 5 to 10 questions.  He said, overall, atleast 30 to 35 questions will definitely be right, and the rest, he had done some guesswork.  We spoke to a few officials of HDFC over there, who said that the written test was conducted at various parts of the country, on different dates, till September end.  We knew that the results would be out anytime after September.  Today was that D-day, and we are all very happy for Vignesh!!!

 

Following was the mail that I received from HDFC.

If you are not able to view this mailer properly, please click here
Dear Vythianathan,
We understand what your child’s success means to you. To ensure that your child gets the right opportunity, HDFC Bank rewards talented and deserving students.
It gives us great pleasure to inform you that among 4.2 Lac participants Vignesh has received a scholarship worth Rs2,500 in the Meritus Scholarship Program. Only 3300 participants has received a scholarship in the Meritus Scholarship Program.
Your child truly deserves to be in the winning league and we wish him/her all the success in his/her future endeavours.
Your child’s certificate and scholarship amount will be delivered either at their School or at your residence.
We appreciate the time and effort you and your child have invested in preparing for and participating in the Meritus Scholarship Program.
Results of Meritus Scholarship Program are posted on www.hdfcbank.com
Final Written examination procedure as well as results for Meritus Scholarship Program has been supervised by leading external audit agency-Ernst & Young.
For any further clarifications, please write to us on meritus@hdfcbank.com
Warm regards,
Rohit Mull
EVP & Head Marketing