Thursday, January 17, 2008

School Daze again...

This time we are really in a sad daze... Tonight came Naya's first rejection, which really is more a rejection of us from an elite private school in Delhi. I won't write the name because there's still a chance of a second list. Today is also the day I think that Nitin and I realize we love our kid more than ourselves. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I don't think I felt this sad even when I didn't get into Northwestern's journalism school. What's most perplexing is that the system in India still feels incredibly patriarchal, based on what accomplishments parents have made. While we consider ourselves rock stars in the creative sense, we wonder why that didn't work for admissions... I would gladly take 16 Nitin Mukul paintings over an IIT diploma... Anyway we tried to do this whole thing without connections or kissing ass but we are revisiting that policy now. It is the Indian way, perhaps.

Government schools here are a joke, private schools here are few -- education is an issue that the rich and poor are strangely united in being screwed over on. Why hasn't there been a revolt? Tonight is the first night in a long time that we have debated going home because while the opportunities here are great, the possibility that an American education allows you to dream are far greater. With just a handful of decent private schools in this capital, you wonder just how India is going to shine in 20 years. If we don't make the cut and people with connections, bribes and other means make it, then what does that say about a country? And should we even be judging children's potential on their parents' past accomplishments anyway? Isn't education the only way to level the playing field, to surmount the stigma of parents and past? If we are finding it hard to get in, what about lower middle class families or even the poor?

Today we also had an interview at one of the so-called alternative schools that we really loved. But when we sat before the four (!) interviewers, they said, "You both seem busy. Who looks after the child?"

I was momentarily stunned and said, "Nitin works from home. That is the arrangement we have."

Then from my left came another question. "Can your husband verify employment?"

"Well," I said, "there's a contract here but he works mainly as an artist."

Nitin began showing them some of his graphic design work.

"Is there anything on letterhead?" came the woman again.

I must have looked annoyed. Thankfully, Nitin pulled out a New York Times review praising his paintings and the recent TimeOut review and silenced them.

"Thank you," they said.

"That's it?" I asked, incredulous. "Don't you want to know anything else?"

"No, we're fine," she said.

I walked away, shaking my head. How can it be that they chastise us for being working parents on the one hand and then seek their so-called "professional" letters and proof on the other.

Let my melodrama continue -- this country is doomed.

PS - Nitin just called his father to let him know and Dad was his usual optimistic self, "Don't worry. You'll get in somewhere. Naya is really smart."

Too bad she is not the one being judged...


bhekuli said...

I would have thought "Tare Zameen Par" made a dent. But apparently not.

More seriously, it is a class thing. Or a caste-like thing, if you will. If you do not have a string to pull, you do not have a "certificate" that says "Yeah, she is one of us." There are so many people in India and so few schools that you cannot use "merit" to judge anyway. There will be a thousand other Nayas out there. How will you choose a hundred people from a thousand? The answer is pedigree.

I would suggest pulling strings. Sorry for being so cynical, but that is the only way one may survive in India.

the mad momma said...

wow. maybe i should just home school. sigh.

bird's eye view said...

It really is a Catch 22 - damned if you work hard and are successful and damned if you're not. The other issue to consider is what people do end up learning from their education - I was on an admissions panel for a business school last week ( my angsty rant is at let's just say it ain't pretty.