The anxiety epidemic

Tough nut to crack….

The Tote bag was getting filled up with biscuits, bread sandwiches and bottles of water, a fun filled outdoor excursion to an exotic place with the dear and near ones, on a fantabulous road trip to be one amongst nature, drinking in the salubrious climate with dancing daffodils set amidst lush green carpets of green that extend beyond the horizon, cascading waterfalls from towering mountains and gurgling streams with shining pebbles and lovely small colourful fish…if only wishes were horses, then beggars like me would ride!!!!

It was a never a laid back Sunday with all the aforesaid but a nerve wracking Sabbath day for the hapless and over expectant parents and the teenager who is reduced to a bundle of nerves and almost on the verge of being afraid of his own tall shadows, breaking into a sweat with the blistering climate aiding and abetting the process! The second toughest competitive exam in India was summoning the intellects, the brightest, the not so astute and the nincompoops to challenge it and face extinction and annihilation or to come out unscathed in flying colours.

The allotted exam centre was far away and beating the maddening Bangalore traffic even on a Sunday added to our cup of woes which apart from many things included last minute checking of the hall ticket, the coveted password after all, junior preferred keying to pen and paper much to the chagrin of the not so tech savvy mom. The burgeoning truck traffic on the NICE highway at the tollgate and the unconcealed looks on the face of the man behind the wheel said it all. Adding insult to injury were the instructions at the back of the hall ticket which among many microscopic words, gave caution on the possible occurrence of too much traffic, difficulty in finding the destination despite the advancements in technology, and therefore suggested to take a dry run the previous day which was faithfully and conveniently ignored.

But we beat all odds and reached the venue way before the scheduled time and felt jubilant of going one up on the gridlocks, sadly the banes of development! Apprehensive parents with offspring in a tizzy were there in full strength already and the butterflies in our stomachs grew by leaps and bounds. Finding a safe haven for our car in the shades proved surprisingly easy as the institution boasted of ample parking space. Our fidgety progeny broke free and disappeared into the building not wishing for any more free advice that was flowing like liquor (water is scarce these days!). Once the warning first bell was sounded, the elders(moms, dads, nana, nanis, dada, dadis, mama and mamis et al) heaved a sigh of relief and moved to comfortable positions to spend a good three hour wait. Out came all the super cool gizmos as these were hours of gasconade and flaunting! I too did not want to be left behind among the apples and androids and brought out my cyan lappy with a flourish but it was not a show stopper in the tech capital of India though I was self assured that it did steal a few furtive glances!

The first hour was spent wistfully with the eyes glued to the mini screen and the fingers on the keyboard, and I did manage to feed in some notes on the impending lecture sessions. This turned weary and monotonous and I thankfully joined my hubby in gazing, gawking and ogling at the motley kaleidoscopic Homo sapiens around us. The cool shady trees around the ground with  well laid out benches in different tiers to look like an open amphitheatre added to the aura of glancing and glimpses! We Indians are indeed one of a kind leaving our thumb prints and footprints everywhere in our true and inimitable style that is unparalleled and unmatched anywhere in the world and a wide array of mannerisms, attributes and idiosyncrasies were in full public display.

The bellowing voice of a realtor caught our attention; he was like Shylock extracting his pound of flesh, vociferous and eager to make a good deal. The all so familiar nasal twang of the Tambrahm language diverted us from the bigmouthed guy to a couple seated nearby. Expecting to sight a typecast, replete with orthodox attire and fragrant jasmine flowers in hair with the ever so prominent “pottu”, I was in a for a pleasant surprise as my lady in focus was trendily dressed in Capri pants and a colourful cotton tee, hair tied up with a branded sunglasses perched on it! I stealthily savoured every bit of their conversation which ranged from the housemaid to the lunch menu and the pesky guests at the “kalyanam”! (see what similar cultural backdrops can do!)

My better half intervened in the eavesdropping session and commented that our son was halfway into the mains and would be venturing into his Achilles heel, the science of matter! Fleetingly, my mind wandered into the intricacies and complexities of the competitive exams that made or marred a child’s life and career in this modern day rat race. Probably, the two ladies sitting two rows above us knew what was playing in our minds at that moment and turned on the radio in their smart phones. The kannada songs blared in the serene surroundings and the chirping of the birds stopped at the unexpected cacophony! “Swatch Bharat abhiyan” went for a toss when I found a middle aged couple heading to the bushes behind the ground to answer nature’s call, (pun very much intended!) and they came back relieved much to the discomfort of the appalled and disgusted onlookers!

Jolting us out of this act, which hit me like a ton of bricks, was an impromptu cricket match in the playground, set in sylvan settings- canopies of purple and yellow May flowers blooming in the trees enveloping the ground as eager spectators!

Sounds of willow hitting the shaved lawn tennis ball were music to our ears after the onslaught of namma kannada haadu that was thankfully brought to an end with the battery dying! The fitness freaks took to brisk walks with the headphones giving them company while the lazy ones ambled across to catch a better glimpse of the future men in blue! Sleeping is second nature to me and I dozed off despite the charged environs. But my power nap was interrupted by the sniffing and snuffling from a cold infected nose of a girl who had to take the vantage point near me!

The wait ended sooner than we anticipated with the wide spectrum of entertainment keeping us regaled and amused. Like Pied Piper Of Hamelin, in a trance, we followed the final bell and the sweating bullets fervently waited for their wards to come out with triumphant faces. On sighting the lanky, tired and relieved figure, I refrained myself from the usual volley of questions that would normally froth from my mouth for fear of getting publicly admonished by junior!

There were sounds of ooh and aah from the effervescent and energetic young crowd but there were none from my offspring, I was left guessing as always and he was a tough nut to crack like the exam that just concluded!!!

Student in the middle of an exam realises he has accidentally picked up dumb water.
Student in the middle of an exam realises he has accidentally picked up dumb water.

15 thoughts on “The anxiety epidemic

  1. A tough test seems inevitable if the cream is to be chosen for the few seats sought after by disproportionate many.Expensive and exhausting preparation for months precede the ordeal.What surprises me is the fact that parents lose their sleep and become unduly tense like the participants with their much trained birds entering the cock-fights at village fairs.
    The wards are relatively cooler than their parents.I liked the humor and wit in the post that brought out the travails of taking this inescapable test.
    My best wishes to your son for a high rank..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand that this year around 15 lakh students took the test for gaining entry into the prestigious institutions. Thanks KP Sir for the valuable thoughts as always, these words are truly inspiring. Even as I wrote this post, I was thinking about you and your remarkable observations of people that translate nicely into stories. Wish I had a tenth of that talent to keenly watch and take down notes mentally!
    Thanks for the wishes too.


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