Starting afresh @ Bangalore

We got to know our plans to leave UK exactly 40 days before we left the country. Although we had been planning to leave UK for the last few months, we were quite open about the location. So, our relocation plans depended on how, when, where I end up in terms of job.

Bangalore is new to all of us. The only thing I know about Bangalore is its infamous traffic. Thanks to the valued inputs given by our friends, we decided to find an apartment reasonably closer to my work place and find a school commutable from home – which meant that the niche schools like Padma Seshadri, Kumaran etc wouldn’t even be approached for consideration. We were meant to relocate in mid-June, which meant that Anirud would be starting school at least 2 weeks after the academic year starts, which is not bad.

Thanks to Google god, friends and the availability of forums like Parentree.in, we were able to get a list of all the schools in the area, read reviews, post questions about them in the forums and get things clarified. After shortlisting few schools in the order of priority, I started calling them one after the other. One of the things I realised during those calls is that – although the academic year in India starts in June, the admission process happens sometime in Oct/November. One seemingly well educated lady in National Public School barked at me for having the temerity to ask about school admission in May without even knowing the basic facts (that the process gets over in November). “Welcome to India”, I said to myself.

For as much as we could, we tried to zero in on the schools that did not focus solely on academics. We want Anirud to have a great socio-cultural environment outside of the academical realm. We are determined not to set ‘Get the First Rank in the class or 100% in a certain subject or whatever’ and the likes of it as a goal in life. If he achieves that in due course, it is well and good. If not, we certainly won’t have any regrets over that. All we looked for is a school where Anirud goes, feels stimulated, allowed to think, learns something new, plays well and come back home a happy child.

Our preference was to enrol him in a school that follows ICSE curriculum, as we believe that in the event of him having an opportunity to pursue his university education in UK (by virtue of being British citizens, we have the choice to visit and live in UK as we please), ICSE education will make it a lot easier.

Although the number of ICSE schools are comparitively less than the CBSE ones, there are plenty of schools that have come up to cope up with the demand. Most of them, if not all, will conduct an entrance test for the kid even if the admission is sought for Class 1. Although Anirud has nearly completed Class 1 in UK (As academic year ends in July, he was short of it by a month or so), he has to be enrolled in Class 1 again in India as the schools in Karnataka stipualate that the child should be six years of age on 1st of June of the year when admission is sought to Class 1. Anirud was a little disappointed about that but he didn’t mind about it after a while. A colleague of mine who has just relocated from Australia and who has a daughter of the same age as Anirud managed to enroll her in Class 2. But we didn’t prefer to do that.

The entrance test was a cakewalk for him. He was tested in English and Maths and he took about 20 minutes to answer all the questions, after which we went through the admission formalities.

While talking with the Admissions Officer of the school and later on with his Class Teacher, we highlighted few issues that we think would be concerns on a longer run.

– We have opted Hindi as the second language but Anirud doesn’t know a single letter in Hindi (Kannada was the other option). He picked up French with ease in UK and we strongly believe that he will be able to do the same with Hindi given some time.

– Anirud is used to more informal / practical way of education in UK and he has been encouraged to challenge what has been said. We have requested the school to let us know if that becomes a point of concern.

– Anirud’s English is good, but his accent and slang (choice of words) will be noticeably different and might be difficult to understand by others.

In short, we requested the school to give him ample time to settle down and be patient with him until then. Did the school / teachers oblige? How did Anirud find his school on Day 1? More on that in the next post.

Farewell

Anirud attended Chesham Bois CE Combined School until the day before we left for India. One day when I went to pick him up from school, quite a few little girls and boys from his class came up to me and asked if Anirud would be moving out of the school for real. It was so sweet of them to tell that he will be missed badly. His friend M with whom he would have regular spat on his way back from school daily wept inconsolably for a while and she gifted him a pair of lovely shoes. It was a real good send off from the school and the Head Teacher summed up so nicely – “Quite a character he is with thirst for information all the time. He will be definitely be missed”. His classmates made a lovely hand made card. On one of the last few days, they have had a mini party as well with Samosas and Pakodas.

All of these made us think if he had been in the school for more than 1.5 years that he had actually been. Where ever Anirud studies in future, I doubt if he will like any other place as much as Chesham Bois. I am not sure if any of the teachers @ Chesham Bois read this blog, but in case you do – once again our thanks for making the school what it is.

India Week

After a short mid-term break, the school has reopened. For Anirud’s class (Class 1), this week will be ‘India Week’. Every thing will be based on the theme – India.

Reason – Anirud will be attending his current school, the place he loves so much – for only two more days, after which we will be flying to India for good. How nice of the teachers and the school to dedicate a week on India to mark our ward’s leaving. We will be based out of Bangalore, where Anirud will soon get to start at a new school in a week’s time. In his own words, “I am going there for a better experience. I will be going to new school, learn new languages and making new friends”. Every single day, he enjoyed coming to his current school and I am sure he will miss the environment, teachers, library, open fields and most importantly his friends. Thanks to him, I got to have a good run of school life from a different perspective at this age. I got actively involved in the Parent Teacher Association as well as served as a Parent Governor at the school. We only hope that he enjoys his new school as much he enjoyed here.

Before starting proper schooling here, Anirud attended a nursery called “Beehive Montessori School” in Amersham. I have no hesitation in saying that Beehive shaped Anirud’s character to a great extent and it was a perfrect start that one could expect for a toddler. We will be visiting Beehive before we leave to once again thank the teachers for the great work they did.

I hope to write in detail our – rather Anirud’s transition to the new environment, the challenges, inevitable comparisons, so on and so forth. Until then, good bye folks.