The fantastic achievements of boys and girls in the recent Class X and CBSE exams have enthused a retired External Affairs Ministry official to coach students at his flat. After the death of his wife, octogenarian K L Bhatia devotes his evenings to this labour of love, while preparing for it the whole day. He has collected a whole lot of reference books, newspaper clippings and other material for the purpose.

Stepping into his Mayapuri house, one feels like entering the Greek Bower of the Muses, where learning was imparted directly through the word of mouth. The assembled youngsters include Aman, 16, his sisters Kashish,14. and Rubal, 7, besides six-year-old Kriti. They are motivated by the lives and teaching of such personalities as Swami Vivekananda, Florence Nightingale and Mother Teresa.

This is perhaps how the foundation is laid for high academic achievements, in which students score an unbelievable 99.9 per cent in subjects like English Literature. One remembers the time in the 1950s, when only one student in Agra University’s over 150 affiliated colleges scored 60 per cent in MA Literature examination. No wonder lanky Mohd Hakim of Bareilly College, was applauded all the way when he received his degree at the annual convocation addressed by C Rajagopalachari, who recalled the Pipes of Joy played by the god Pan. But times have changed-or have learning standards?

Frisky escalators

Zoom we go up, zoom we go down, zoom we slip and zoom we stumble. There are some lazy times when we just want to skip that tedious flight of stairs and opt for the tempting, escalators to reach our destination. All hail these escalators for they were made to help us arrive in better shape. Who wants to break into a sweat when we can just take a step and move up or down several floors so easily?  However, a colleague narrated how she found escalators too slow for her comfort. By the time the escalator reaches the floor above or below, one could think of myriad tasks that could have been completed in the time spent standing still. The two minutes spent on the escalator often feels like an eternity, which made her realise how this dependence on machinery has made an entire population into whining little kids for whom even the simplest daily activity has become so burdensome.

This, she felt, is yet another instance where a technology that set out to aid us perform mundane tasks has suddenly become vital to our daily life.

Metro or gymnasium

It’s common to see little children pole-dancing in the Metro trains. But a bemused colleague narrated how she saw a compartment getting converted into a “gymnasium-cum-dance studio”. On her way to office the other day, our colleague spotted a father and son duo standing near one of the poles in the compartment. One was leaning against it and the other swinging. The child, like most of them do, had clutched the pole and was swinging about. To a spectator, it would look like dance moves. But the father, perhaps disturbed in his leaning position, forbade him from swinging. Soon the child prevailed upon the father to help him grasp two overhead hangers. As he swung and pulled himself up, he nudged his father to try it as well. The co-passengers in the compartment were in for a surprise as the young man gave in to his child’s egging-on. He grasped the bar running down the centre of the compartment and began doing pull-ups. This certainly was a new sight, our colleague recalled. One often saw kids doing pull ups, but certainly not an adult.



Overheard: Why is it that the municipal authority in every city chooses the monsoon season to catch up on its sleep and is caught napping every year.




Contributed by: Bhavana Lalwani, R V Smith, Jigisha Sai and Asha Ramachandran