Culinary Arts – A satisfying career option – Interview Shubha Shree Surendra #BlogChatterProjects

Everybody need not be an Engineer or a Doctor! The mindset that only mainstream careers mean something, is wrong. The whole month of December, I am looking at alternative careers that can be satisfying as well as rewarding.

I caught up with a 21 year old student pursuing culinary arts. You might wonder what that is! I had the same thoughts, so I did a bit of research online.

What is culinary arts?

In really simple terms, culinary art refers to the process of cooking and arranging food. How many of you thought about ‘MasterChef‘? I know, I did! It piqued my interest, so I decided to do an interview with her. Following are the excerpts from it.

Today we interview Shubha Shree Surendra who is pursuing culinary arts at the North Shore International Academy, Auckland, NZ.

What kind of background is required to apply for this course?

Education wise- you could be anything above a 12th pass student. There are age groups from 17 to 50+ at this institute.
but most importantly- one must have LOTS of patience, determination, physical and mental strength for this course.

Are there entrance tests? when should one start preparing?

Not really, most institutes do not require any prior knowledge or technical skills for this course. However, interviews and cover letters play an important role in fixing yourself a spot at any skill-based institute. Questions are usually based on how passionate you are towards the course as well as WHY you chose this field.

What is the course structure like?

The course that I am doing is a LEVEL 4 And 5 in culinary arts (Doing both levels is optional, but recommended if you want a decent position in the industry).
this is a 2-year course, consisting of 4 terms. You will be taught A-Z of culinary foundation through the 2 years – right from holding your knife to presenting a completed dish.

difference between hotel management and culinary arts?

The culinary arts refer to professions that involve preparing and cooking food. Culinary artists often are compared with restaurant managers in both education and career scope. Generally, the major differentiating factor for culinary artists and hotel management students are the specific college programs, the type of training and experience involved and the actual duties associated with each job. A culinary arts program will have subjects like nutrition and sensory evaluation, American cuisine, international cuisine and meat science. Management programs, in contrast, focus on educating individuals on how to operate the restaurant from a business management perspective.

What are the career prospects?

At the end of 2 years, you will be a certified chef, capable of working at any restaurant/hotel- positions may vary with experience, skill, etc. Other job options could be a personal chef, food stylist, cookbook author, food scientist, and so on.

some tips for students looking for a similar course?

Being a chef is not as easy as people presume, it involves a lot of physical and mental dedication every single day. For a chef, the holiday season is the busiest so forget partying during New year’s or vacationing during long weekends- this is when you’d be expected to show up in the kitchen. Do not join this profession if you are not passionate/interested in cooking; a lot of people I know have ended up choosing this course because they think they have no other option or they want to give this a “try”. Take my word, you will not be happy if you cannot give this your 100%.
what some people also don’t know is that cleaning and maintenance of hygiene plays a major role in the kitchen so expect to wash dishes when you enter the industry- that is how you grow and learn.

The kitchen is a hot, loud, noisy, busy but extremely satisfying place with a high swear-word frequency: be mentally prepared.

Can these courses be done in India? what should a student look for while choosing an institute?

India has several schools/colleges that offer a course in hotel management but only a handful that offer a mainstream culinary course.
Personally, I did not enjoy my experience in the culinary college I studied at, in India. Most Indian schools have a different approach with the education system, but then again- it’s just a personal opinion. There are 100’s of wonderfully talented chef’s that Indian schools have produced as well.
My advice before choosing your school would be: RESEARCH. Do thorough research of the school you choose. Ask questions, do not hold back. One tip would be to ask previous alumni- the ones who are not mentioned on the college website, if you want honest answers.

What is the process of applying for foreign universities and what should the student keep in mind?

Pretty much the same goes for any institute across the world. Do thorough research before choosing what fits your criteria and vision. Few things to keep in mind:
– know your rights, rules and regulations of the country before choosing.

  • If you wish to work during your study period, find out visa restrictions and availability of jobs.
  • Research everything about the country- from cost of living to future opportunities (if you wish to stay back).
  • Most students apply for universities/ colleges through an agent- I did too. It is a much faster and easier way of application as they help make sure all criteria are met and processes complete.
  • Most countries require test of language. Exams like IELTS/TOEFL, etc can be attempted, based on what the country accepts.

Last Thoughts

I hope this was an informative interview, the way it was for me. And I sincerely hope this will help more students and parents choose from the various career avenues that are now available.

Are you following your passion and have chosen an alternate career? Or maybe you know someone who has. Connect with me on nehatambe.dm@gmail.com or fill in the form below!Have any queries or wish to add more information or share this post? Share it with #LearnNotEducate

Are we raising a generation of escapists and cowards? My reason to start #LearnNotEducate

A bright student kills herself when court passes directive supporting National level entrance exams for medical

Every hour one student commits suicide in India

The most shocking was the Rayan International murder, where a XI standard student murdered a small child just to postpone his exam and parent teacher meet!

What have we come to? Is it easier for children to be murderers than face an exam or Parent Teacher Meet? Is your personal life, so immaterial that you prefer giving it up than standing up and finding second chances? Have we made our future generation so weak and a coward? If this is the coming generation how are they going to face the many challenges that life throws at them?

Questions like these and many more were hounding me since I read that article and it made me wonder if we have messed up our kids future in the name of ‘no pressure childhood’

We seem to be swinging like a pendulum – from too much pressure to absolutely no pressure. Is this really a workable solution?

Child’s Exposure

The current system of no exams, no punishment, no negative words and no failing, though established with good intentions seem to be working adversely. No exams mean the child has no idea of how well he is doing. No Negative remarks mean the parents have no idea if they need to help their child in a certain subject. I certainly don’t support corporal punishments or failing a child, but regular feedback good or bad is essential for the child to develop. Introducing vocational courses in school level and a possible option of making that a field of study from high school itself might help in easing the pressure. The child will be exposed to a variety of field of education apart from the traditional 8-9 subjects taught in school.

Parental Responsibility

We can’t just sit back and say “We have been paying enough fees to the school so the responsibility lies with the school to educate my child” We are paying for quality education, but if the child needs extra support in certain subjects we need to help. Not every child will be a topper, we need to accept that and let them blossom at their pace. A child might have talents in other areas – be it dance, singing, elocution, sports or craft. As parents it is our duty to let them explore and help them be the best version of themselves in whichever field that interests them. Not expecting the child to be an all-rounder and ensuring that he/she gets enough time and exposure to follow their passion might help in creating world-class sportsmen, musicians and chefs.

Everyone need not be a Doctor or an Engineer

This has been amply proven in the past few years, when many engineers have turned authors or musicians. I am not saying a child will figure it out when he is a kid, but as parents if the child chooses a different profession than the main-stream careers, we need to be supportive of them. Saturation of  a few traditional course is not only going to create intense competition in that field but will also inhibit a child. Dignity of labor should be ingrained right from childhood. An environmentalist or a pet-trainer is an equally respectable profession as an engineer or a doctor for the simple reason that we need them and they help a society function, just like any other profession.

World is their oyster

Instead of everyone running in the same rat-race, lets help our children blossom. See the international curriculum where there is equal focus on learning vocational and non-vocational courses. We need a change in mindset and a strong belief that talent and intelligence is not limited to bookish knowledge and 99% marks. As seen in the past – World Leaders, Entrepreneurs and even Sportsmen haven’t scored an A in the exams but have been an A-lister in life!

If you know someone who is following a satisfying alternative career or you are doing one, do fill the form below. My goal with #LearnNotEducate is to showcase to the children and their parents that passionate people can create amazing lives – a bad result is not the end of the world.

 

How to be a freelance dietitian and manage home and career #FreelancerFriday

Tell us a bit about yourself 

I am a postgraduate and MPhil in Foods and Nutrition. I have also done some short courses on nutrition along with my internship. One short course which I really enjoyed doing was on ‘Food Management” which I did in Milwaukee, US.

I did my internship at Mallya hospital Bangalore and now I am a freelancer

What are the career options for a certified dietitian?

These days there are a lot of career options for a dietitian or a nutritionist. As people are far more conscious about their health these days, the careers are not only restricted to a hospital. One can join a hospital or a health center as a dietitian or can also start an independent practice after he/she has enough experience. Many people work as an independent consultant also. Writing nutrition or health related articles is also popular these days.

Another option which is one of my favourite is to work as a teacher or a lecturer in the field of foods and nutrition in colleges or high schools.

How did you come up with the idea of being a freelance dietitian?

I always wanted to work in a good hospital as a dietitian but God had some different plans for me. I was still doing my masters when I got married. Then I joined Malaya hospital for an internship but soon moved to the US. I did some courses in food management while staying there. We decided to come back to India after staying in the US for 5 years. Under my father’s guidance who was in teaching line, I did my M.Phil. in Foods and nutrition to be a lecturer. I already had two kids at that time and the younger one was just 1 year old.

At that time, there were not too many options for a dietitian in India. A hospital job had no weekends off and there was an option of only one weekly off. I wanted to be with my girls and also continue my work. So, the idea of being a freelance dietitian came up.

How does it work?

I started this with few of my friends who wanted help with their meal plans. Slowly, through word of mouth people came to know about me. Now I have some online clients. So, it mostly works through emails or phone. Other than consultations, I also write nutrition-related articles according to my knowledge of the subject. The only difference as compared to working in a hospital is that it is more flexible. I can work with the ease of my home and also consult or share the plans whenever I am free.

have you faced any problems when it comes to establishing a trust factor with your patients?

I didn’t find any such problems till now. But in any such profession, trust factor only comes after a client gets the desired results. And that can be in a hospital or a clinic too.

Would you call it a satisfying option?

Yes, I love it as it gives me the flexibility to work. I feel satisfied as at least I am in touch with my field of education through few clients and through my writings. It also gives me the freedom to follow my passion and do other things like blogging and choreography.

Any tips for those looking to go the freelancer way?

As a freelancer, do not expect it to be same as a full-time job. Build a trust with your clients. It takes time to get work and also build a reputation. So, be patient and don’t lose hope. Also, the money factor is not same as what you would get in a full-time job, at least not initially. Slowly you can discover different things and avenues.

Author Bio

Deepa is a dietitian by education, Blogger by passion, a mommy of two girls, she shares all her experiences through her creative eyes as a blogger at http://kreativemommy.com.

Follow her on her blog to read about her thoughts and ideas on everything about life. It is a one place solution for all your queries related to nutrition, travelling, parenting, and everything life.

#FreelancerFriday Being an author the self-published way- Interview with Preethi Venugopala

Today on Freelancer Friday we have with us, Preethi Venugopala who is an established author and talk with her about her journey from being a civil engineer to a self-published author. So, without further ado, lets dive in-

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background?

First of all, thank you, Neha, for having me over on your wonderful blog.

I am a civil engineer turned blogger turned author. I have published two novels, one novella, a few short stories in various anthologies and a few kids’ books. I also edit manuscripts. I have also an avid interest in portraiture and graphic designing.

How did the idea of writing a book come up?

The thought to convert an idea into a book came quite by chance. To be truthful, I saw the story of my first book in a dream. I noted down the major scenes and characters once I woke up. Then I tried expanding it into a novel and succeeded in it.

All I had written before writing my first book were a few short stories in inter-collegiate story writing competitions. The fact that I won the top prize both times might have been an indicator as to where I was headed eventually.

What do you mean by being a self-published author and difference between traditional publishing?

Self-publishing is a misnomer in a way. It is indeed the form of publishing where the writer is in charge of everything, the editing, the cover, the proofreading and marketing. Everything is under our control. We even decide the release date. But we don’t do it all ourselves. In self-publishing, the author need to find the professionals to do the above works and pay them from his/her own pocket.

In traditional publishing, though, you just submit your completed manuscript to the editorial team at the publisher. They do the editing, proof reading, cover design and releasing the book in print and eBook forms. The writer is paid an advance upon signing the contract. The publishing rights remain with the publisher for the contract period.

The con about the traditional publishing route lies in its unpredictability. Even if you submit a manuscript and sign a contract, you do not have much control over the cover design, release date or the final shape of the manuscript. A book may get published years after you submit it to the publisher.

The con of self-publishing is that the future of the book will depend upon the professionals the writer chooses to invest on.

How was the journey to being a self-published author like?

I have had a rollercoaster ride as a self-published author. My first book ‘Without You’ as of today has 268 ratings on Goodreads and 62 reviews on Amazon. All of them organic. I have published my second novel A Royal Affair which is also being received well.

But my path was not without roadblocks. I saw all the ups and down that comes in the way of a self-published author. There were haters who did what they could do to pull me down.

But there were also readers who wrote me long letters and suggested my book to others.

I am thankful that most part of the journey has been pleasant.

Your memories associated with the first book?

First book is always close to heart. I still remember biting off all my nails waiting to hear from my first beta-reader. If I hadn’t got the encouragement I got from her at that stage, I wouldn’t have become an author today.

I remember the happiness I felt the day the book was launched, signing the book for friends and readers and posing for photos.

I remember the first mail from a reader and also the first review I received.

Such things will always be cherished.

How did becoming a self-published author help?

I began as a traditionally published short story writer. All my short stories (5 stories published in different anthologies) got me readers. From these, I didn’t earn even a rupee.

But after I self-published my first novel, I began to earn from my writing. Also, I began to be recognised as an author.

My submissions to traditional publishers were given more importance than before. Recently, I signed two contracts with Juggernaut books. One for a single short story and the other for 9 short stories. I was paid for my work.

In a way, self-publishing made the journey to become a traditionally published author easier.

Is it a satisfying alternative?

It is a very satisfying and easy way to earn from your writing.

When you are a self-published author, you get to know the exact details of the number of books that are being sold, the number of pages that are being read and also the region where the book is being read or bought by logging onto your Amazon KDP account. It doesn’t matter whether your book is selling thousands of copies per day or just a few copies. Every detail is available to you.

All these details are never available to any traditionally published author without the data being tampered with by the publisher if I believe the tales I heard from many of my traditionally published author friends.

With Amazon KDP, it’s very easy to become addicted to self-publishing because of this transparency.

I know many other self-published authors as well who are making a living just from their eBooks.

Another point is you don’t need to wait for long to see your book published when you are self-publishing. If you’re going through the traditional route, there is a waiting period of minimum 6 months or a few years to get your book published.

Using Amazon KDP, your book gets published within a day and it becomes available to the reader immediately.

 You have recently released your latest book, tell a bit about that?

A Royal Affair is a story about second chances in love and a unique quest to find a lost relative in India undertaken by a British girl. It is my second published book though technically it is my third completed manuscript.

It tells the story of Jane and Vijay, lovers who were separated by circumstances, and thrown together again years later.

It was a very interesting book to write as I have never written a foreigner as main character or about a royal family in any of my stories or novels.

 

How much have you evolved from your first book to now?

When I published my first book, I didn’t know anything about self-publishing. But over the years, I have learned a lot through trial and error.

I guess I have become a better writer after I graduated from Anita’s attic last year under the able guidance of Anita Nair.

Your tips and suggestions for those looking to be a self-published author?

Over the years I have learned quite a few things about self-publishing yet every day comes with new insights.

The most important things to take care about when you are self-publishing are:

  • Write a good book:

This might sound silly but only a good book sells. Just putting anything out there doesn’t work. Readers are the gatekeepers in self-publishing, and unless your book satisfies them, they won’t consider buying you next time.

So, learn to plot, structure and write according to your genre.

  • Invest in a good editor, beta readers and cover designer

Don’t publish without getting your book edited by a professional editor. Even if you are a good editor yourself, don’t publish what you edited yourself. Our brain camouflages errors we make. But another person will be able to spot these errors better.

Beta readers will tell you whether your book is working. Find someone who loves reading the genre you write. Don’t send your romance book to a reader who reads only thrillers.

Your book cover can make or break your book in a way. If your book cover doesn’t appeal to a reader among the many book covers on Amazon, they might not buy it.

  • Market your book well

In self -publishing it is very important to market your book well. If you don’t post about your book on Social Media, nobody is going to know about your book or buy it. So, do not be ashamed about bragging about the reviews or best-selling ranks to your followers. You have to build an interest in the readers about your book.

Some invest a lot of money in this, but I believe you should not invest too much in this area. If you have built an author platform on social media, that works best than paid marketing.

You can connect with Preethi on the following links

My Website: A Writer’s Oasis

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Facebook Page

Twitter/ Instagram : @preethivenu

 

UBUNTU and the Patterns in Indian education system


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Today I saw a Marathi movie – UBUNTU. While I had planned another post today for writetribe the urge to write about the movie was such that I canceled the scheduled post and started writing this one. The movie is about a topic that I am passionate about – Education. I believe everyone should get some kind of education that will help them lead their life with dignity. I am not solely for bookish knowledge. Any work that can later get you a livelihood is education for me. But the choice to leave the school books and learn the skill should be the child’s choice and not a burden.

UBUNTU movie poster

The movie UBUNTU starts with a school in a really small village where getting a meager 35 children to attend school is a big problem. The teacher is shown striving hard to keep the school running. As per the government guidelines a school with low attendance points towards non-enthusiasm of students to learn and hence the school will be shut and those interested in learning should go to the nearby village. While someone from a city might think logistically this arrangement makes sense and if parents really want their children to learn they will send the students to nearby village. The reality is not that simple.

Just a month back I was a part of conversation relating to schools in rural India and those discussions coupled with the movie put forth a Pattern. A vicious circle that needs to be attended to now, to have a future generation that is inquisitive, educated and visionaries. I personally know atleast three villages which are facing this problem of having to shut down the local primary school for lack of students.

  1. Most rural primary schools teach in vernacular language. Parents who can afford to send their children to the close-by towns prefer sending children to English medium schools.
  2. The students who do go to these local schools are children of really poor backgrounds and the only reason bringing them to school is their will, free meals and a hope that they might be able to create a better future as compared to their parents.
  3. The parents of these children are least interested in education as they believe after primary they will have to shell out money to educate the children, which they don’t have. They prefer having another farm hand instead of an educated, but useless family member.
  4. The education of maths and science for them is limited to daily calculation and street smartness.
  5. The parents who do know the importance of education, cannot afford to send the children far off. My maid doesn’t want to go back to her village as there is no school and she can’t send her small children to far off schools.
  6. The government can’t afford to spend on schools where there are no children.

So while all the adults think about logistics and economics, the children miss out on an independent and respectful future. Is it really necessary that our children only read, get good marks and become engineers, doctors or mathematicians? Don’t we need clever farmers, specialists in animal husbandry, poultry or florists? Why can’t the rural schools have freedom to decide their curriculum or part of curriculum that will also teach children life skills? Everyone might not be a scientist or a doctor but every child will have some skill that can be crafted. This way the parents will relate the education, to immediate source of livelihood and not wonder if education is necessary. Is it time we looked at alternate education systems developed by people like Sonam Wangchuk to keep our rural children in school?

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge 

 

Demystifying Thick Data

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What is Thick Data?

Thick Data is a combination of qualitative and quantitative data that provides insights into the daily lives of consumers. How are brands perceived? Why are they liked or disliked? What does the product stand for? Questions like these are answered with Thick Data analysis. Thick Data often leads to emotional and behavioral insights that brands can weave into their story for elevated impact. Thick Data Strategists gather this information by conducting online surveys, one-on-one customer interviews, via social media, using google analytics, ghost shopping, etc

How is it different from big data?

Big Data focuses on quantitative data with enormous data sets. It sifts through large data sets to identify specific patterns. It delivers numbers and relies on machine learning. If a pattern emerges, thick data tries and identifies the reasons for such a pattern.

We came across a Thick Data expert, Divya Ostwal and had a freewheeling conversation with her to understand all about Thick Data. Do read along.

Name: Divya Ostwaldivya_pic

Education: Advertising and Graphic Design
Current: Thick Data Strategist, KAN, Malmö, Sweden

Past:
Chief Creative Officer, VizioHub, Bangalore, India
Creative Director, Good Old, Malmö, Sweden

Passionate about: Narrative-photo-telling

As a Thick Data Strategist my role is a synthesis of logic and magic. I am a business-brand strategist, a google analyst, a conversion strategist and a story teller. I help brands understand their target audience and their behavior through qualitative and quantitative methods. I have worked in the digital advertising world for over a decade. I started my career in Bangalore, India and currently live in Malmö, Sweden.

During the years, I have worked with various verticals – service sectors, industrial, healthcare, hospitality, real estate, NGOs, educational institutes, tourism boards and lifestyle products amongst others. I spent the early years of my career as a strategic, visual designer and doubled up as marketer. During the later stint I cultivated the special ability to develop brands from insights; and strategy to concept to creative. I soon went on to become the first female Creative Director at a Malmö agency with a deep understanding for conversion centric creatives.

As a Thick Data strategist, I work extensively with a combination of qualitative findings and quantitative data patterns. I am a certified google analyst and enjoy data mining. In my projects, I believe it is a combination of user understanding and data patterns that create value for the brand.

My work process includes three phases: Attract – Engage – Convert
The red thread through this process being understanding consumers through qualitative methods and analyzing their behavior through quantities techniques.


Things I learnt on the job:

  • Applying logic to create magic
  • Taking equal responsibility for the client’s business goals
  • Collaborating to create success
  • Result driven communication
  • Agile planning and long-term focus

Career Options:

In my case, I could choose to be on the agency side and get a variety of brands to work with or alternatively work on the client side and focus on applying Thick Data to one brand.

How we celebrated World Environmental Day

#WorldEnvironmentalday

We know climate change is a reality and it’s high time human’s start taking responsibility for their actions. We are leaving a lot of carbon footprint and royally misusing the natural resources that are already very scarce.

This is the kind of lecture that I was giving my daughter about environment and understandably she was bored, trying to stifle a yawn. What do you expect when you bombard your seven year old with loads of statistics early in the morning on the last day of vacation? So, while I was kicking myself of being too pushy for no logical reason, I found a leaflet in the newspaper announcing a session on waste management and composting. This was being organized by our society and I thought it was a great way to teach my daughter something that lectures couldn’t.

So, this world environmental day we did something a little different. We went and attended a session on waste management and composting and I showed my daughter the black gold ( compost) that is created and the whole process of it.

How it’s done

The process is fairly simple – the wet waste collected is first segregated based on what machine can compost

 

what machines can compost

 

The waste is then shredded and mixed with sawdust and compost mix, which helps keep the waste dry and convert into manure faster.

Then it is put into the compost machine and mixed regularly for 21 days which helps in aeration and faster manure creation.

How it helped
  1. My daughter became mindful of the garbage sorting process and understood the reason why it is done.
  2. While throwing the garbage in the bins, she is careful about the bin she chooses.
  3. She realized how the kitchen waste can be useful if we are a bit more vigilant in disposal.
  4. She understood the small ways in which she can contribute towards conserving the environment.
  5. Seeing the process in front of her got her hooked to the whole process and I hope it has made her more environment conscious.

While planting trees and taking care of them is essential, what children also need to know is how small steps can help conserve nature and reduce carbon footprint. Correct waste disposal helps in less or no use of chemical manure and thereby improves the fertility of the soil. She was already interested in planting trees and taking care of them, now with composting, she has come a full circle.

Hindi Medium – A reality check for parent? My review

I recently went to watch Hindi Medium. I didn’t have many expectations as I expected the movie to just glorify Hindi Medium education and be all preachy. But I was in for a surprise. The movie focuses on a lot of core issues that the new age parents are facing, when it comes to their children’s education.

Hindi Medium starts with the most common worry that every parent of a 3 year old undergoes – Getting their ward admitted to one of the best schools in the locality. The movie beautifully showcases the parent’s good intent of ensuring that their child get’s the best that they can offer, however it can be over zealous at times. As the movie is putting forth a thought, they ensure that the movie remains light and humorous while focusing on the core issues that the parents face when it comes to school admission. It touches upon many societal perspectives that we can easily identify around us, one of them being, ‘English communication is directly proportional to your status in society.’

The casting is perfect with Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar being the financially well-off, struggling with English parents. The movie is a situational comedy and it nails the many ugly truths related to education in our current society. Mithu (Saba Qamar) reads about the “list of top 5 schools in Delhi” and is obsessed about putting her daughter there. The probable ridicule, embarrassment and social stigma that she might have faced is left to the viewer’s imagination through various subtle indications like when she convinces her husband (Irrfan) that their daughter should be educated in the most prominent English School, or when she comes face to face with her ex-college mate who is an alumni of a famous school in Delhi.

Another useful point that the movie makes is, ‘how education has been turned into a money making business.’ Right from counselors who will help groom the child and their parents for the interview, to professional writers who will fill forms and fashion designers who will help pick the right clothes for the school interview. “Schools don’t prefer children of shopkeepers” is another dialogue that portrays the current admission criteria where the school screens the applications based on many unwritten conditions. Being financially well off to pay the school fees is not good enough, the parents and their professional background too is expected to be meeting expectations.

Though the second half of the movie is typical and preachy, it hits the right notes when it comes to putting forth the current problems. It also showcases the other end of the spectrum with RTE quota’s , its misuse and how the RTE children end up being a misfit in schools that are carefully crafting their image of being a school for future leaders of India. Do watch this family entertainer. A refreshing movie which makes each one of us introspect.

A night under the stars – Stargazing with JVP

Picture Credit- Pixabay

On April 20, this year with a doubtful mind I pressed the send button for fund transfer to JVP (Jyotirvidya Parisanstha) an association of amateur astronomers and a non-profit organization. A cousin of mine is a member of this organization and she suggested the place as a night outing for my older kid. I was super excited about this new experience and immediately went about coaxing my husband for the same. Surprisingly, even he agreed without much ado and so I made up my mind. However, by the time I got around to making payments I had a million doubts – late realization, you might say 😛

It was a star party, with Lyrids meteor shower and sounded like a great experience, but as I had never attended a star party I wasn’t sure about what to expect! Also as this was an overnight star party I wasn’t sure how well would my younger kid co-operate. It was an open farm, so I was also worried about the mosquitoes. Questions like place to sleep, food available, what if they got bored, were swimming in my mind and at a point I even mulled over cancelling the seats, however there was also this thrill of the unknown which I couldn’t conquer and so with a duel mind and a confused heart we set out for the star party on 22nd April.

We reached there around 8pm and realized that there was an educational session starting from 7pm, which we kind of missed. When we reached there, there was an interesting on going session about constellations in the sky and popular stories about the same in various cultures. It was a wonderful session as the sky was the canvas and all we needed to do was look to identify these interesting Nakshatra’s and constellations. There was a group of high school students too for this star party and they were one of the most interested and clued in audience. While I was fascinated by the stories and tried to listen in with rapt attention the same wasn’t true about kids. They got bored in the next 10 minutes and kept roaming about the farm and pestering my cousin, (who thankfully was happy to entertain them!) This was followed up with star gazing using telescopes. This was an interesting aspect for my older kid as she was seeing a telescope for the first time. We saw Jupiter and Saturn with their moon’s and my older kid who had recently studied about solar system was thrilled to see them. As this was being done on a farm, we were strictly asked to use no or minimal lights.

After a short break for dinner we got back to star gazing with telescopes. Thankfully by this time, my younger kiddo slept without much problems and that was a boon for me. Next up were some presentations about man-made satellites sent up. A detailed infotainment cum presentation about spacecraft Cassini’s journey was shown. It was because of this that I realized the importance of Cassini Mission and the importance of 26th April for astronomers. Do watch this beautiful video for more.

By now it was already past 3am and with two breaks for tea, almost all the enthusiasts were wide awake and rearing to go. This was followed with astro-quiz and astro-antakshari. The boisterous high school kids were rearing to go and it was a fun session to watch.

Things to Know

JVP – this is an astro enthusiast group and they have programs all year round. You could enroll as members and enjoy various activities organized by them.

Star Party – While this was a star party with Lyrid meteor showers, there was hardly any shower to be seen, so that was a damper.

Where- Abhyankar Farm, Nasrapur (Approx. 41 km from Pune, depending on where in Pune you are located.)

Budget – 500 + transport for non-members

Things to have – Google Sky Maps, laser pointer, warm clothes (it gets damn chilly post mid-night and this is in summer!)

Fun things for kids – My kids were too young to enjoy this thoroughly but the other students who had come for the party, seemed to have enjoyed the experience to bits. Recommended age – 10+

How I became a Chartered Accountant?

The ultimate degree in the world of Finance is CA. Being a Chartered Accountant is a dream for many young commerce undergrads, however, a very small percentage of it gets to make this dream a reality. One of the many reasons for drop outs from CA courses is that not many know the extent of hard work and determination required to complete the course. For some, they do not have the temperament required. Wouldn’t it be great to have a clear picture about such courses before you get into it?

Here is Shruti Chiplunkar, a CA who completed her course in 2016. She walks you through her journey of becoming a CA.

C.A Shruti Chiplunkar

  1. Explain your journey from 12th to finally becoming a CA

I completed my Class 12 from Vidya Mandir College, Bengaluru in March 2011. I cleared my CPT in June 2011 and started preparing for the next level. Thereafter, I cleared my IPCE (Integrated Professional Competence Examination) in May 2012. I did my articleship with a CA firm in Bengaluru from August 2012-2015.I cleared my CA Final Group 2 in November 2015 and CA Final Group 1 in May 2016.

In these 5 years, there have been many happy and not-so-happy moments too. While the hectic class-work-study schedule takes a toll on our mind, the articleship period also helps us to foster new friendships, learn the way a business works and also prepares us to enter the corporate world.

2. What prompted you to take up CA course?

The Chartered Accountancy course is well known for its maintenance of high standards, both professionally and ethically. It also mandates us to do a 3-year articleship to be eligible for writing final exams. The reputation of the Institute, along with the study-as-you-work model interested me. Also, my keen interest in management and economics prompted me to take up this course.

3.  Any role models or inspirations?

Definitely! Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is a powerhouse of inspiration. Remembering his quotes actually helped me motivate myself and overcome my failures.

My role model for all times is Ms. Uma Venkitraman, my Class 12  Business Studies teacher. She not only taught us commerce, she also taught us to look beyond the realms of bookish knowledge. She has been with me through my happy and sad moments. Whatever I am today, is only because of her.

4. How different was the actual study material than what you had expected?

I took up CA after my 12th and did not go the graduation way. So when I initially had a look at the study material for the Common Proficiency Test (CPT), I felt it was much tougher than the Class 12 syllabus. Also, when I joined the course in 2011, I had to actually get hold of the hard copies of the books to have an idea about the subject(s). But these days, it is all available on the ICAI website. I would advise students taking up the course to go through the online study material beforehand.

Moreover, I realised later that the Institute also conducts Management and Communication Skills Programmes for CA students – surely a wonderful way to connect with your peers and overcome communication obstacles. So, there is more to the course than the actual study material published.

5. Students wishing to take up CA should be ready for….?

Smartwork and Determination! If your hardwork is channelized through a consistent schedule, you can manage things smartly, in case of CA exams. The syllabus is not only very huge, it is also dynamic – The Companies Act 2013 has come into effect, GST will be implemented next year, there are various Rules, Court judgements etc. So it does take effort from our side to keep up-to-date with the latest changes.

Why I am stressing on determination is that, I am of a view that CA exams are a mind game – either you conquer the exam fear, or the exam fear will conquer you. There is no intermediate option. A single failure should not shatter one’s hopes. Definitely one can take some days off to introspect as to what went wrong with the exams, but the very important point is to accept it and strategize for the upcoming examinations. People can show us sympathy, or even encourage us, but the determination to achieve our goals must come from within  – and this holds good in every aspect of life.

On a lighter note, be ready to slog, folks!!

6.  What was your study schedule?

I started studying around 4 months before CA Final. Initially I started with a schedule of 5-6 hours a day, since it takes time to adjust to a new study pattern. I had made a schedule of preparation of all 8 subjects for the first 3 months. I gradually increased my study pattern from 6-8-10-12-13 hours a day before the exams began. The last one month was devoted only for revision and mock papers.

Since the syllabus is too vast, it is very important to revise and keep in touch with the subject; otherwise all the hardwork is of no use. It is also equally important to read the study material and manuals given by the ICAI. It is crucial for understanding the concepts.

I would take up two subjects in a day- one practial oriented and one theoretical; This helps in breaking the monotony and also freshening up the mind.

I can conclude by saying – there have been mentors, my wellwishers, there have also been people who criticized me; but my heartfelt thanks to all of them for building that Never-Say-Die attitude in me.

This post was originally posted on PAL