Monday, 27 June 2016

A gem of a friend called Vinod Raman

// Sri //

The year 2014 was an eventful year for my family and me. Having lived in Bahrain for the last 18 years, since my marriage, raising my two girls there, was no less a challenge too! With no elderly experience to guide me, I learnt to run my home and brought up my girls, instilling the values passed on to me by my parents, to them. 

My elder daughter was on the verge of completing her scholastic education. The educational system in Bahrain is not so competitive and we as parents, were concerned and decided to take a call and the girls and me moved base to India. So in the month of March, '16, we arrived in Bombay (it will always be Bombay for me, as from the time I am born I only know it as Bombay, not Mumbai).

The best thing about the move was that my husband Subhash bought a semi furnished home in Mulund, Bombay. I had to add more only to suit my requirements (and that was an ordeal in itself). He stayed with us only for 5 days and returned back to Bahrain and then right from setting up the home, to getting admission in school/college for my girls, fell on me. My husband  Subhash, left the decision taking in my hands, and yet, I kept updating and consulting him, as all these years of our married life, I had never had to take important decisions, since they were all taken by my husband.

I took a decision of getting my elder daughter admitted in the 11th standard, in a junior college which catered to State board and I had a lot of time for that, as the admissions would start only in June for the same. But I had to get my younger daughter (who had passed out from the 7th standard in the CBSE curriculum), admitted in a school catering to that curriculum. 

The academic year was to start from the 1st of April. And we were already at the end of the month. I got an invitation for an Onam dinner at Subhash' friend, Manoj Raman's home. My girls and me were the only outsiders invited; the rest of the invitees were Manoj's immediate family and his siblings with their spouses.  That is where I met Vinod Raman, Manoj's sister's husband, for the first time in my life. How special Vinod would turn out to be in our lives, was revealed to us in a matter of less than a month or so. 

Subhash had put an application in a well known school in a place called Airoli, New Bombay. But that school only admitted children based on a lottery system. There were no admission tests, no donations, no influence which could be used to get a child admitted in that school. Since it was one of the best schools, we did not think of applying in any other school catering to the CBSE curriculum. We had placed all our cards on this one school. 

Days flew, and on the day the lottery was to be drawn, Subhash upon going to school, learned that among-st the names of kids declared, our daughter's name was not there. There were only 5 seats available for the 8th standard and unfortunately she was not the chosen one! He couldn't wait for more days to hunt for other schools or finish any formalities. He requested a friend's wife who knew of a corporator of the Airoli node, to use his influence in getting the admission done. But no luck there too!  I was assured that my daughter would get admission and the school was opening only in the month of June. Though I felt odd about it as other schools catering to the CBSE curriculum were reopening on the 1st of April. 

I kept following up with my husband's friend's wife about the status on the admission front and each time was only getting assurances that it would be done. By then it was already the 10th of April. My instincts told me something was amiss and on impulse one Saturday, I chose to go to the school and check things out for myself. Upon reaching there, I found the school gates closed with only a small gate kept slightly ajar for people/parents like me who came to inquire. 

Upon checking with the watchman, I learnt that the school had already reopened on the 1st of April, like all other schools catering to CBSE. I felt numbed with shock. It felt like someone had poured iced water on my head. I stood in stoic silence, with a volley of thoughts hitting me all at once! School had started on the 1st of April, which meant, my child had missed those many working days of the school's academic year, which meant that I had been kept in the dark about the school's reopening, which meant that now with other schools having reopened too, the chances of my trying for admission in those schools were bleak. I did not know anyone else who could help me out in this. And at that time an ex-classmate of mine happened to call. I told him everything and began crying silently as I was feeling helpless and hopeless too! He asked me to wait where I was and in no time, he came to pick me on his bike, took me out for lunch and dropped me home with a promise that he would try on his end, using the political pull he had. 

But time was running out and I was getting anxious. I couldn't wait any more! That evening, out of sheer desperation and a feeling of having lost some battle, I called up my Mom who is in Pune and broke down to her. Speaking to her was the assurance I needed! She told me, "Mona, don't worry! Keep your faith! Take an idol of the deity you worship and keep Him immersed in water and ask Him to take care of your problems!" 

Like wise, on the 13th of April, '14, I took a metallic idol of my favourite God, Ganpati and kind of told him authoritatively that I would keep Him immersed in water till my child wouldn't get admission. I did not ask Him to get my child's admission done in this school or that. I just told Him, "I now leave this problem to you! You have to make sure that she gets admission in a school, as soon as, possible!" Surrendering my problem to Gannu (I choose to address my Ganpati as Gannu), I went about attending to my household chores. There was no point in worrying. My faith in Gannu is far too strong to allow me the useless waste of time like worrying!

That night, I got a call from Manoj, inviting us to his home for a 'Vishu' Saddhya (an elaborate meal served on banana leaves. the new year as per the Hindu calendar for the people in Kerala. And like the earlier invite, this time along with the immediate siblings with their families, another close friend and family and my girls and me were the only people there. Vinod was also there (obviously), being Manoj's brother-in-law. 

After the customary greetings, as we settled down to our tete-a-tete, the ladies formed a group, the kids went to the inner room and the guys formed a group and yet, each member present there was participating in the conversation of the other group too! The ladies assembled asked me on the status of my child's admission. As I began narrating the series of events to them, little did I realize that my eyes were brimming or that I had an avid listener, in Vinod. 

Dinner was announced and most of the ladies got up to help the hostess get the food prepared out in the living room. And I chose to sit out. Suddenly, without announcement, Vinod pulled a chair close to me and asked me, "Are you willing to get your daughter's admission done in this particular school? I know one of the board members there".  My eyes popped out in disbelief and probably my ears were just waiting to hear this and I replied, "Vinod, today I am a beggar. I am not given a choice of this school or that. I just know that my child has missed out on a lot on the school front and I just want to get her admission done, as soon as, possible. 

Vinod, excusing himself, stepped out on the balcony; I saw him speaking over the phone. Within a few minutes, he came in and approached me, saying that an appointment for her admission test had been fixed for the next day, which was the 15th of April. He was clear in communicating that there was no guarantee that she would get admission, as no influence was being used. She would have to give an admission test and only if she passed that test, she would get admission. Vinod also told me that he would come to pick my daughter and me at 9:30 a.m. the next day, and take us to the school himself. 

Butterflies were flitting, elephants seem to be running a race in my stomach. I was anxious. I just couldn't wait for the 'Sadhya' to get over and come home. I wanted to brush my daughter up on the languages and Math, as I anticipated that those were the subjects that would be given for the test. And time proved that my hunch was right. 

The next day, on the dot of 9:30 a.m., Vinod arrived and we set off for the admission test. All the way to the school, probably guessing the tension I was going through, Vinod made small talk and tried to keep the atmosphere light and yet he also kept receiving calls from his office (it was a working day for him after all!). The time given for the admission test was 11:00 a.m., and we reached there by 10:20 a.m. I asked Vinod to carry on to office and he was getting calls continuosly from his office, so I asked him to carry on and proceed to his office. But he refused. He said he would be with us through the admission and then leave. 

Shloka had to give an admission test in 3 subjects - English, Hindi and Maths. Leaving her at the school's office, Vinod and me went downstairs to wait for the coordinator to call us. 
And as per his word, he waited. He waited till Shloka had finished her admission tests. He waited till the results of the same were declared. (Shloka fared well in the English and Math tests, but she had fared miserably in Hindi. I had to give an undertaking to the school that I would bring her up to the level of the school. And only after that, her admission was confirmed). Vinod still did not go to office. He waited with Shloka in the school office, till I had finished with the formalities of paying the fees for the school and the school bus too!

The admission process was over, but yet, Vinod said, that he would make sure that everything was totally taken care of, drop us to the nearest Auto stand and then proceed to office. After leaving the school campus, Vinod took us to buy the school books, stationery etc...from there, we proceeded to buy her school uniforms. Thus, fully loaded and prepared to start school the next day, Vinod dropped us to the nearest Auto stand, as per his word and left for office. It was close to 2:30 p.m. by then and though I insisted we should have lunch in one of the restaurants close by, he refused to take the offer and after making sure that we had seated ourselves comfortably in the auto, and instructing the auto driver to take us from a particular route, he went his way to his office.

I owe my child's admission to this awesome guy called Vinod Raman! Vinod was my Gannu that day. My Gannu came in the guise of Vinod to help us out. Call it my faith in my Gannu or the good deeds we have done, which came as a pay back to us....but I shall be ever grateful and indebted to this gem of a friend, called Vinod! God bless him and his family abundantly.



  1. Wonderful - This proves that everbody is sent in our life for a purpose

    1. Rajesh, I definitely believe that we cross lives with people due to some Divine intervention and many a time, after the purpose is served, we either part ways or we stay in each other's lives for a long time (probably a bigger purpose is round the corner, which requires us to stay in each other's lives, for a long time to come!).