Saturday, January 27, 2007

Street-dog menace

It has been very worrying to read one news item after another for the last 1.5 months about the street-dog menace on the streets of Chandra Layout in Bangalore attacking children and adults alike. The worst was this news where a pack of street dogs mauled to death an 8 year old girl! Chilling! What is appalling is, there have been several such news items appearing in the newspapers for the last 1.5 months and it doesn't look like the situation has improved much. Please look at the links below.

Dog bites 20 people
Dogs maul an 8 yr old girl to death
Dogs attack a 7 yr old girl
Dogs continue to attack

Dogs have always been on the Indian roads. However, I have mostly known the street dogs as being fairly docile. So, reading news about dog attacks has come as a total shock. Apparently, there are lots of illegal meat shops in Chandra layout that dump old meat on street corners, empty sites etc! The stray dogs there having got used to the meat, are becoming vicious is what the Bengalooru Mahanagara Palike is telling. Coming up with a solution to this problem is going to be tricky. What with the animal rights activists and the local residents not seeing eye-to-eye on this subject matter.

The typical problems faced because of the street dogs:
  • The dogs are fairly territorial and kind of have their boundaries. When a newer dog steps into a street that other dogs have their "claim" on, there ensues a very noisy barking altercation. Lots of such noisy incidents happen at nights too and disturb the residents.
  • Driving on 2-wheelers in the darker hours is also very difficult, cause the dogs chase the fast moving bike, and the riders an lose balance and meet with accidents. The dogs can also easily reach out for the riders' legs for a bite!
March 13th - Update: On March 1st, we had the misfortune of losing another child to dog attacks. It was very unfortunate. I was extremely upset by all the incidents. However, in this case, it was apparent that the boy was playing in a place that had knee-deep of garbage! Where were his parents? How can anyone allow a child so young to be outside with no one apparently there? If not for dogs, mustn't we at least keep an eye on the traffic for the child if he is out on his own?! He was 4! I was shocked that anybody could have let kids play by themselves in such a filthy place. In this day and age, we have traffic, pedophiles, kidnappers, etc on the roads. How can we possibly assume an innocent child's safety? It is such a pity!

It is also reported that there are lots of illegal meat shops that were dumping old/waste meat in the neighborhood vacant lots. This had encouraged the unsterilized dogs to develop a pack and become aggressive, way more than a regular docile stray dog. And with all these news reports, there is mass hysteria and a lot of people want all the stray dogs taken away, away from anywhere near their sight. The government reacting to the mass-anger, has started catching any and every dog that comes their way. And since it is so much easier to catch the docile ones that don't have human fear to begin with, we have been losing the friendly dogs from all neighborhoods in Bangalore. More info here. All this is SUCH a knee jerk reaction! Apparently, many of these dogs have been stoned, clubbed, crushed to death!! I am devastated. People, if you are reading this, and want to help, pl go here.

Yes, I was very upset with all the news reports and wanted the government to take action - meaning to sit down with experts in the field and decide on a course of action that was long term. Instead, when they chose a route that was short-sighted and diplorable like killing the stray dogs, I was speechless. I can never support indiscriminate culling. I have no objections to people taking away the aggresive ones, as long as they are not culled! If the diseased ones are put to sleep humanely, that is not too bad.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bangalore's shameful violence!

Image Source: Deccan Herald
I have digitally edited the original image

It was very disheartening to see communal violence in some parts of Bangalore. I have mostly known Bangalore as a peaceful place with warm people. To see news channels carrying violent images of Bangalore was shocking. This morning's local newspapers were spalshed with news and pictures of Bangalore's horror stories. There was violence on Friday as well. I am not sure if there are any ulterior motives to whatever was seen on the surface. I am also not sure if there were any instigations by some political or fanatical elements. Whatever the reasons maybe, the common man pays a huge price for no fault of his. As Bangalore bled, my heart cried!

Lessons learnt: Stay put whenever there are large gatherings of any sorts. If not for anything else, at least to avoid the traffic. Ugh! Friday's traffic mess.

PS: The rest of Bangalore was untouched by these disturbances. In fact, we realised about all the violence only when we watched the news on TV. We even had relatives visiting us, etc.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bangalore's trees are its glory

But for its trees, Bangalore's city scape would have been quite ugly. The city has nothing noteworthy to offer for your visual pleasure. The tree-lined roads are fairly unique to Bangalore and thankfully make up for the lack of other things pretty. The localites do complain about how the number of trees are dwindling. I agree with them. But, I do not see how the city can keep all of its trees amidst such unexpected growth. I am happy that we have the trees that we do.

The difference I notice from a few years ago to now is that Bangaloreans are not keeping quiet about losing their trees. I am positive that the awareness will help protect the existing trees. The corporation is doing its bit of planting saplings when it must cut down trees. The corporation is also maintaining green patches throughout the city by developing small parks (another post.)

These pictures were taken in the afternoons when the traffic is not clogging every inch of the road. The pics are digitally manipulated a little to accentuate the greenery. :)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Sankranthi/Pongal

It is the Sankranthi / Pongal season. Sugarcanes are everywhere! We enjoyed taking the kids out yesterday to buy sugarcanes, fruits, and flowers for today's pooja. The roads were filled with festive joy, with people buying all the pooja items and enjoying the sugarcanes. I loved buying strings of jasmine, tuberoses, chrysanthemum, roses, oleanders etc for the pooja room.

Sugarcanes and Flowers
It was fun to actually decorate the pooja room with sugarcanes. I was never really into festivals, but since the arrival of our first child I have changed a lot in this regard. Now, I actually look forward to celebrating the different festivals with the kids. And when we are amongst people who are also celebrating the same festivals, it is really fun!

Happy Sankranthi/Pongal ..... from our home to yours!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Eurokids - A review

I had mentioned earlier about the pre-school, Eurokids, that our older one is going to in Bangalore. She started almost immediately on coming here. She just completed 3 months there. Overall, we find the school pretty good, especially since their philosophy is, Learning by doing - a child needs to 'touch', 'explore', 'learn' and 'enjoy' to understand the world around him. Our daughter seems to like her school and she has some friends as well. Typically, a class has about 12 students. Each class has a teacher and an assistant. Each class also has a bathroom+toilet. The flooring is laminated and is maintained clean. Kids leave their footwear outside in the shoe rack and are bare feet inside the classrooms. The facility includes a decent amount of play area that has some Little Tikes play structures, a few of Little Tikes cars and the like. Lots of assistants are sprinkled around, and I know that kids are watched over when they are playing outside.

Right now, each Eurokids pre-school has the following class groups:
  • Playgroup for kids between 1.8 and 2.5 yrs of age
  • Nursery for kids between 2.5 and 3.5
  • EuroJunior for kids between 3.5 and 4.5
  • EuroSenior for kids between 4.5 and 5.5

At the nursey level, she is being taught a lot of things in a fun and interesting way. She gets to do a lot of things with her hands. And best of all, they maintain a folder for all of her activites through the week and send it home on Friday. All her work sheets are for us to keep, and we need to only send the empty folder back on Monday. The teacher teaches almost everything using props. The kids get to see, touch, and eat the fruits that they are being taught about. They get to use their sense of logic in different activities. For example, there was this work sheet where they had to choose the right kind of transportation for air, water, railway tracks, roads etc. Every child gets individual attention from the teacher while doing the job in class. The sense of satisfaction and pride is evident in my daughter when she explains her work sheets to her parents or to her grand parents/relatives.

In these 3 months, they have already had a few parties like the Diwali party, the Christmas party, a children's day, a sports day, and a few field trips. Overall, I am very happy with all these extra activities, especially the field trips. My daughetr comes home and tells me about the fruit shop they visited and the differnet fruits that they got to see. She also got an opportunity to go see an ambulance van, and visited another Eurokids facility on another field trip. I have met her teacher and she seems really nice. All of their teachers are trained by Eurokids and are given a Eurokids certification before being offered a job.

Some gripes:

  1. Our daughter goes to the nursery class and typically has classes for about 3 hours, that includes a half hour play time and some snack break. My daughter can easily stay at school for another hour. She definitely can use some more mental stimulation and challenges.
  2. As parents, we are not invited to involve ourselves in school activites within the school premise. We are not invited to their Diwali/X'mas celebrations. So, we don't get to take pics of our children at such events. :( I was used to being very involved at her Montessori in SF bay area and loved seeing my child being on her own outside of her home. The only Eurokids invites we got was for the sports day, which I must say, was nicely organised.
  3. Quite a few closed days. They have about 50 closed days for various occasions and are again closed for 2 months in summer.
Typical fee structure for '06-'07:
  • Admission fees - Rs. 5,500
  • Tuition fees - Rs. 1,350 per month. You have to pay for a minimum of 6 months or 9 months or 12 months. Which means, even if your child is going to go only for 7 months, you have to pay for 9 months. (You pay for the 2 closed months of summer by default.)
  • Registration kit - Rs. 1,100
  • Books - Rs. 200

Please Note: There has been no additional fees for their Diwali/X'mas parties, sports day celebrations or field trips. Everything has been covered in the fees that we have paid towards tuition.

* I am not sure if the fee structure varies based on the place. I would expect all Eurokids pre-schools in Bangalore to have the same fee structure.

Big reason for this review: Eurokids is a big chain of pre-schools in India and has over 200 pre-schools all over India. The sheer number called for a review.

Monday, January 08, 2007

R2I - I spoke too soon

... here. We arrived in Oct '06 and were doing well for about 5 weeks, and have been continuously sick ever since. Amongst the 4 of us, we have fallen sick 13 times in 7 weeks!!! Unbelievable! I am tired, being sick myself or having to care for sick kids everyday for the last few weeks. My older one has hardly fallen sick in the US, and is now compenating for all that. We have been passing the virus around and the cycle seems to be endless. Since the start of winter in November, the weather has been varying a lot in a course of 24 hours. Cold at night and pretty warm during the day.

Having my parents close by has been the biggest boon. I have no clue how I could have possibly managed without them.

PS: If you are planning on relocating, please allot a few months just to get your bodies adjusted to the local climate. I am not sure when we are all going to actually be absolutely fine, but I am really hoping it is going to be soon.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A list of good schools in Bangalore

Since the start of the blog, the biggest query so far has been about schools in Bangalore, especially by NRIs with kids. I have compiled a list and will be updating this list over a period of time. I welcome all inputs from Bangalore parents.

Please Note: This is not how I want to present this info. I want to include some contact information for every school. But, I have been having tons of issues accessing 'Blogger' and having even more issues with the Internet in general. But, I will make it better over the next few days.


Other good schools
  • Sri Kumaran Public School, Basavangudi
  • Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (of the Chennai fame), 75/A, Hulimavu, Bannerghatta main road, Bangalore Phone: 2648 2901/02, 2550 1050
  • Sishu Griha English School, 3, HAL 3rd Stage New Thippasandra, Bangalore - 560075
  • Vidya Niketan School, 30, Kempapura Village, Hebbal, Bangalore - 560024
  • The Valley School, Kanakapura Road
New schools off of Sarjapur road
  • Gear Innovative International School Phone: 2844 0919/17
  • Inventure Academy, Whitefield - Sarjapur Road, Near Dommasandra Circle, Bangalore - 562125. Mobile numbers: 94489 36678, 94489 36681
  • Green Wood High School
  • Prakriya, The green wisdom school - 70, Chikkanayakanahalli Road, Off Doddakannelli, Sarjapur Road, Bangalore-560035 Phone: 28440925 / 57636391
Old Convent schools
Other Convent schools
  • St Germain High School
  • Stella Mary’s Girls School, Vyalikaval
  • Bethany High School, Koramangala CA-12, 20th Main, 6th Block K.M. Layout Bangalore 560034 Phone: 25532189, 25531519
  • Cluny Convent High School, 11th Main, Malleswaram, Bangalore - 560003
  • Frank Anthony Public School, 13, Cambridge Road, Ulsoor
  • Sophia High School, Palace road
  • Sacred Heart Girls High School
  • St. Joseph's Indian High School
International Schools
  • The International School Bangalore, NAFL Valley, Whitefield - Sarjapur Road, Near Dommasandra Circle, Bangalore - 562125 Phone: 7822550
  • Mallya Aditi International School, Yelahanka
International Residential Schools
  • American Friendship Residential School, Gudibanda, 84 kms. North of Bangalore
  • Jain International Residential School, Jakkasandra Post, Kanakapura Taluk, Bangalore (Rural) District, Karnataka - 562 112. Phone: 7577013 to 44