Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Oh the Humanity

Mood: Overheated and disgruntled

Listening to: Istrumental version of Pal Pal Bhaari – from the movie Swades

I admit it, I am unashamedly pulling an ostrich. We have nothing in the house to eat for dinner and I am supposed to be whipping up delicious curry and vegetable and chicken type things, but I needed a few minutes to cool off.  The mountain of laundry is still laughing, but slowly becoming smaller. I’m coming for you mountain, just wait. Now that I have a metric ton of laundry to do, it is taking forever, not only because of the water situation, but also because of the drying situation. My old trusty wooden drying rack is no match for 3 loads a day of laundry. It holds exactly .75 of 1 load. The remaining quarter is hung up after I re-tie the porch clothesline a few times.

After waking up at the ungodly hour of 8 am (quiet down Mom, this is still early for me), feeding and clothing the (bickering, always with the bickering) natives and myself, and bolting down my non negotiable cup of coffee, the girls and I set out for Delhi Public School.  This is not the 1st, or even 4th time I’ve been required to do this and I hate every single last trip. My eldest daughter started there in January and went until school ended in April. I cannot even tell you the amount of monkey shenanigans we have had to put up with at that school when we got her signed up. I still have nightmares.

Well folks, school starts again for her on Friday. We also have younger daughter starting there next week. 
Consequently, the school expects to be paid tuition fees and bus fees for both girls. Ridiculous bastards. You read that right, there is no included bus fare for children here. If you want a bus ride, you pay, just like a city bus. It’s a nice little side business for the schools. There have been instances in the past where I have had to make 2 – 3 trips just to accomplish 1 thing. Each of these trips costs me a cab fare, which isn’t all that cheap. Bangalore be expensive yo.  Accordingly, I am willing to beg/borrow/steal/stab people to actually finish whatever is that needs to get done.

We got to the school at 10:00 am and were waved into the back way to the administration building by the security guard. We entered and went into the administrative section in the basement. Now. I really don’t suppose anyone is going to be overly shocked when I say that India is absolutely chock full of people. Lots of those people were at the school this morning. I’m not sure what happened, but everyone seemed to look into their morning coffee today and realize with horror that school starts in 2 days and they must get all of their fees/bus fares/uniforms/books taken care of today.  To call it a zoo would be kind. Of course there are no instructions as to what’s going on either. There is a bulletin board up in the center of the room outlining fees in the most confusing manner possible with 2 – 3 people leaning up against it writing checks so that no one else can use that information.

After spending about 10 minutes trying to figure out the meaning of the non linear non logically fashioned information was, we decided to pick a line to stand in. There were about 10 leading to various cubicles. I recognized the fee guy and stood in his line. I had a small freak out over forgetting their admission numbers at home. This, people, is the kind of stuff that results in multiple trips. I decided to try my luck and see if he would be in a mood to look them up.

After waiting in line for 30 minutes, we were crammed in the cubicle with 3 other separate people also having business with him, he asked me write their admission numbers on the back of the check. After hearing I didn’t have them, he scolded me that I should have them. I was sweaty, tired, and about to punch the lady behind me who didn’t have any concept at all of personal space (seriously chicky, at least buy me dinner first!), I snapped back that I just didn’t have them. He calmly helped 3 other people. When he saw I wasn’t leaving, he looked up the numbers. It took all of 3 seconds. Fighting a losing battle with the impulse to roll my eyes all the way around my head, I remaining standing there as he helped 3 more people, even though the checks were all written out and in his hand. He then asked me to write a different check as the amount I had written was wrong. I sighed, stuck out my elbows for some space and then wrote another check. If you would write it so that people would understand, you wouldn’t have to wait for me to write another check. We were assured when the school year ended that we would get a text on what the school and bus fees would be and when to pay them. Of course that never materialized. One more he said, mumble mumble, technology fee. After obtaining receipts, we pushed our way back out of the packed cubicle past the line that had become epic.  

More studying of the cryptic board to try and determine what bus fees for the year would be.  We went to the transportation office, also in the basement only to find it empty. Of course, they moved the transportation guys to tables on the opposite side of the room without leaving any trace in the original office. How logical. Another line to wait in. Hooray! At this point, both of my girls were very, very unenthusiastic about going to school and even bothering to finish this business, but after being home for almost a whole year between American school break and Indian school break, those kids are going to school. Someone handed us waivers to sign. I was busy writing a check out and just took them. The girl urged me no fewer than 3 times to fill it out. Take a breath Pollyanna. This line will take 20 minutes to go down, I have plenty of time to write 1 check and fill in 3 blank spaces. After being directed to the end of the shortest line (not the one I was standing in), the girl demanded to see my forms. Must. Not. Roll. Eyes. Ugh too hard, much eye rolling happened. Last time I checked, my signature and the date wasn’t really all that difficult. She then wanted the check. Keep in mind, she wasn’t at a table, she just wanted to make sure I had done it right. Again, I’ve been writing checks for the last 10 years, I’m not all of a sudden going to forget to sign it or put the incorrect date. After our 5 minutes with the transport guy, we were done in the basement.

We left and crossed the campus to get youngest’s uniform and books.  One look at the ginormous uniform queue (line) and we decided to try our luck with the books instead. Oldest paid for and received her books previously. The book store employee kindly informed me that I have to pay for the books in the admin section in the basement. I started laughing at this point, which is never a good sign. There was absolutely nothing in the basement indicating we needed to pay for books there. Back across the campus we trudged. 

This time, the rear door was locked and only about 300 people were in a small space in front of the door. They were giving out small chits with numbers just to get in the building. Although it’s better than I remember, Indians do not do lines. They do mobs, herds, clusters, etc. If you are stupid enough to wait in line, people will just go around you and stand as close to the thing you want as possible in hopes of getting waited on next. Fortunately, I can also play this game. Dragging the whining girls along, we crammed in next to the door and collected a chit from the girl at the door. This was great in theory, but not really practical. Almost every single person in the entry way had some reason or other why they shouldn’t have to wait in the line at all. I started laughing again when it didn’t matter at all what number was on the slip of paper. If the door was open, people tried to stampede like cattle, even though they had been asked nicely to wait patiently. The school people in charge were completely overrun with obnoxious questions, excuses to go inside before everyone else, and trying to be polite with all of the hot argumentative parents who decided that random entry was totally unfair, yet they wanted to be let in right away anyways. One parent took over and called numbers in order. All of those people, including us, surged at the door at once. When we finally got in, we headed downstairs again. After several pointedly ignored questions about where the book fee cubicle was, a parent took pity on us and pointed us in the right direction. 5 minutes later, we were crossing the campus again to pick up the books. By the time we got the books, the uniform queue was unmoved. I only booked a 3 hour taxi (and I thought I was overdoing it!) and my time was up if I wanted to get back home in the half hour I had left. I was hoping to get home before the housekeeper came too, because she doesn’t have keys. If I’m not home, she doesn’t clean. The children cheered as we left. The ride home was uneventful. I still ended up getting home after the housekeeper came, which means I scored some dishes to wash tonight too. Sigh.

Delhi Public School: 8  
Me: 0



  1. Wow........ impressively bad experience! I was wondering which school your daughters attend because I've heard that there are a few International Schools in Bangalore.

    What made you choose this one? Is it a standard Indian public school? Or something a little better? The public schools in Kerala are pretty harsh - but I imagine that the ones in Bangalore are a little bit better off.

  2. I'm definitely not knocking all schools in India or even Bangalore - I'm sure there are some excellent ones. My daughters go to Delhi Public School, which is really not a public school. We have had multiple bad experiences with this school, and will probably move them to a different school next year. DPS is a franchise type thing, so some are very good, others...well...not so much. They definitely have an infrastructure/organization problem at the one my kids attend.

    We chose this school for a few reasons. The first being that they accepted applications in the middle of the year. We of course landed up in India smack dab in the middle of the year. The more expensive schools are hesitant to take you. They also had decent reviews online (as a group, not individually). Almost all the schools we researched (even the sell your soul to get in expensive ones) had lots of people complaining online. We're definitely not loaded so the big fancy international schools were out for us, but the small, local schools would not have been a good fit for our gently schooled American raised kids. Delhi Public seemed to be in the middle. Not really an expensive international school, but definitely not your small, strict, crazy studying local school.

    You can definitely tell there is a mixed bag of the type of students that attend too. There are a lot of very rough/loud kids and many seem to come from families that aren't very well educated. After the initial difficulty adjusting, my daughter has seemed to enjoy it there. Hopefully my youngest does too!

    1. Very interesting. The few glimpse I've had of public schools in Kerala have been so horrifying that I can't imagine Western children surviving it. However, what you describe is obviously not that - and as long as your kids are happy then that's what counts. :-)

    2. My husband went to one of the small traditional neighborhood schools in Hyderabad, and after hearing some of his stories, I told him there was no way we were sending our kids to a school like that. He used to go for tutoring at 4:30 am and be doing homework until 10. No way.