The Other Choice
While Ben was finding his choice of career, another pair of eyes behind large spectacles was watching the progression keenly, while taking an occasional sniff at a piece of cloth. Denis had reached the 10th and he cleared the board exams with a high first class and was in the clouds. After a discussion, he opted for a science stream in his PU, despite my reservation and advice. I had been a science student and I knew the kind of jump in syllabus and testing was awaiting him in his higher secondary and later in Degree. And he wanted to do it in one of the top schools in Bangalore — St. Joseph’s Pre-University College on the crossing of Residency Road and Museum Road, again against our suggestion of a nearby college. He had a new found hobby in learning the guitar and wanted to be in the Joseph’s band, which was his motivation. He did carry his guitar and amplifier on two bus rides and a half a km walk for some time till he gave up on that dream, albeit temporarily from the recent conversations with him.
So, off we went and got the admission with ease, ensuring that he took French as his additional language for reasons only known to me. A month down, he came to me and told me that he wished to shift to commerce. We agreed that I will look into it after his first term exam. I do not know whether out of over confidence or as a strategy to ensure the transition, he fared poorly and did not have an explanation. I let him continue in the science stream as I felt that he needed a jolt to reset his priorities. I gave him all the support in terms of tuition for the remaining two years. Sometime before his finals, I asked him about his potential score and after a lot of dilly-dallying he promised me a first class (60%). I let it be.
The day of the result dawned and we are informed that his score is 58.4%. His justification being that valuation was not fair. We go with this theory for now and ask him to reevaluate all his papers. He selects three but there is no change in his marks. He is disappointed. He can in no way explain the 25% drop from his Secondary board exam. He retreats to his room and is in denial for a week, ten days. He emerges with worried, sheepish expression and enquires to next course of action. We advise him to take up either Journalism/Media related course or Hotel Management. But we also tell him to focus on culinary program as we could help him with other aspects of hospitality. We had the expertise and the books in this regard. He chose the latter.
We apply to the two popular schools in culinary at that time ten years ago, one in Aurangabad. Denis makes the trip to Chennai and clears the interview process and we are informed of the same, but we have to take a step back because of the program fees, which was about 17 lakhs including hostel accommodation for 4 years. I counter with a day scholar offer of staying outside to cut down on the financial strain. No luck there. We drop the idea.
Now we are left with only one college, in Hyderabad. The interview is on a Sunday and a full day affair with written exam, group discussions, extempore and interview. We leave him there and meet friends and return in the evening as the nails were disappearing from the fingers. We are told that of the 60 seats, 45 of them are reserved for students from Andhra, NCC, Sports etc. which leaves only 15 for the rest of the country. Good preparation and confidence gets him into the program. The choice of French in his pre-university subjects was a masterstroke!
His first year results indicate that he was back on track with high first class and when he received the “Best Academic Performer” after the three years of rigorous course, we were vindicated and when he came and gave us the winning check of Rs. 5000/- our happiness knew no bounds.
So thank you, Culinary Academy of India and Chef Sudhakar Rao and his team for turning our meek son into a budding chef ready to face the world.
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