Archive for August, 2019

Band 7 point something

 

IMG_1748Simran Kaur, a chubby eighteen year, was making the last minute polishing of her listening skills as she jot down points of the anglicised lecture that is streaming through her earphones.  She is desperate to clock an overall Band score of anything between 7 and 7.5, which is eluding her in the last two attempts, to secure a seat for a two year random diploma course in a Canadian university.  A decent score card in International English Language Testing System or, IELTS in short, is the passport for thousands of youngsters like Simran who see a future only in countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada and a foreign university course is a well crafted route to move, study, work and finally settle in developed countries.  And of the four skills in English language proficiency that this exam tests a student, Listening has been the one that Simran is finding hard to crack…having only listened to Punjabi throughout her school days… But this time around, she is exceedingly confident as she enters the sound proof chamber of the designated examiner.

Preparing for IELTS is now an obsession among almost all who have crossed seventeen and the size of the coaching business, maybe, is next only to the famed textile industry of Punjab. From farmhouses to havelis, from posh offices in swanky malls to scrambled rooms in shanty buildings, IELTS coaching centres have occupied every conceivable space in the state…across cities, towns and also in the ‘Pind’, the village. And the hoardings that call-out students to enrol to these centres evenly dot the skyline, pop-up in the middle of the fields and also are in display on the rear of most public transports. As you travel through the cities and hinterlands of the state, there is no way you can miss the import of this exam, both for the economy of the state as well as for the future of its youth.

IMG_1749A parent typically spends about Rs. 40.00 lacs on his straight-out-of-the-school child’s two year course in one of these foreign universities.   This amount is not just an investment to his education but also an insurance premium that guarantees a good life for him beyond the campus. As soon as he gets into the university, the student scouts for and gets odd jobs that give him the money to meet his immediate needs and the two-year period is spent as much to get acquainted to the work life of the country as it is to acquire the degree. Once out of college, work permit becomes the next goal to be achieved and after a period of struggle, everyone manages to get it and enter into a life that would remain a dream back home. Green card, PR and citizenship, all follow one after the other and before long, one slips into the ease and comfort of the adopted country. It is estimated that, from Punjab alone, there is an annual outgo of Rs. 40,000 crores to foreign universities to acquire these  degrees/diplomas. 

While it is desirable and even admirable that our children take foreign degrees and work there, once it becomes an unending exodus of the prime resource of the society, its youth, the impact it leaves on the state is indeed catastrophic. The young population is becoming scantier with each passing year and the one that are passing out of the schools have their eyes set on foreign soils. When the working population is fast ageing and there isn’t enough young people to take up their positions, the consequence of it is all too glaring…unattended fields, fast vanishing social life and mushrooming number of old age homes. Empty malls, vacant theatres & shopping arcades and cities fast losing its usual hustle and bustle…. the symptoms are all too evident to ignore.  And there isn’t yet a sign to stem the tide or to bring back the qualified.

Meanwhile, Simran is done with her IELTS exam and is in all smiles. This time, she is sure to score a Band of 8 plus!!!

And it’s now time to celebrate…. with बैंड बाजा!

Yours

Narayanan

August 25, 2019 at 4:13 pm 4 comments

An Eulogy for Viju – Our Pet

The velvety skin, flush with radiant golden-hue fur stretching till the tail end, is an irresistible invitation to caress and to cuddle him. The rounded brownish nose, sitting pretty on the pouted mouth, transfix the onlooker by the sheer perfection of its geometry.  The two eyes are beaming search lights that are eloquently expressive while its graceful glances convey unfathomable affection.  The ears that droop on the sides are ornamental drapes fit only for the most regal and the central mark on the forehead is a natural crest jewel of immense beauty. Chiselled to perfection and flawlessly symmetrical, the paws resemble the artwork of a seasoned craftsman that affords the canine a look, most majestic. On the whole, Viju , our pet doggie, was  at once handsome and adorable.

When the physical charm is captivating, his actions and activities are equally mesmerising. With a horse-like gallop and a quick pace to match it, the strides Viju makes are rapid and rhythmical, inspiring awe and instilling admiration. Endowed with athletic power and agility, every morning stroll with him is a cardio session that makes gym a passé.  And with a vocal tone that is pure timber, each bark of his resonates and echoes, that is so distinctively Viju. His friendly demeanour attracts every kid in the colony and is their willing playmate and his popularity among them is vouched by the young visitors he gets every day.

While his outdoor conduct is endearing to all, his behaviour in-house is exemplary.  Habits of food and leisure, of playfulness and mischief, are so well measured and timed that it never fails to engage and entertain and seldom exceed the limits set.   Such were the pristine virtues of our dear Viju that when he breathed last this Tuesday, our lives were broken and stood altered.

It’s said that persons come to your lives because of some past connect and there is a purpose in each relationship. And I am now tempted to believe that there is even a greater purpose in pets coming to our lives as the impact they leave on us are so overwhelming that  you no longer is the person you used to be before they came into your life.  And on the flip side, they leave behind such a huge void, which, I suspect, even time would fail to fill. But then, that is life… an enduring pain in every relationship.

Thank you Viju for coming into our lives and enriching it…We are blessed of our lives because we shared a part of it with you.

Rest in Peace.

Narayanan

August 11, 2019 at 2:20 am 5 comments


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