The Holy Trinity of Schooling

I’m sweating, my heart is palpitating really quickly… I have a million butterflies in my stomach. Oh wait! They aren’t butterflies! They are like obnoxious toads causing a ruckus in my tummy. I think I’m going to be sick!

She got in, she got in NOT? The prayer that one repeats while fingering the rosary beads every morning. Your jaap when you sit in front of your mandir. Nursery admission time is the time when the haves are separated from the contemptible have-nots. When the cream is spooned off and the rest of the milk is thrown, of which rivulets try to spread around, willing to settle in any crevice that will take this undesired milk.

If I had known earlier what separates the creamy mommies from the not-so creamy ones in Mommydom, I may have married differently. I had no control over the fact that my parents decided not to send my sister and me to the very prestigious Cathedral school, despite her having gotten in but I did have control over my marriage. If only I had known that the criteria upon which we choose a life partner (love for me, wealth for some, looks for others) has been all wrong. What we really should be giving sole importance to is Schooling. The first question one should ask before dating a guy: Which school did you study at? (And then demand to see a leaving certificate to make sure there is no story fabrication and conning involved).

My marriage to my husband was one right out of the movies with all the pre-marriage craziness: psycho-mad-possessive love and family turbulence, and break ups and make ups over 5 years of seeing each other, but I often joke with Nandy that I made a mistake: I shouldn’t have married him for his elite sports club membership but instead should have married someone from the holy trinity: Cathedral School, BIS and Campion, if you have a son, and Cathedral, BIS and JB Petit, if you have a daughter. Of course, Cathedral figures right at the top of this holy trinity, and in the school admission evaluation process, if you studied at these schools, they roll out the red carpet for you. If you didn’t, your existence has no meaning. You’re simply rubbish that no one wants to touch with a pole- unless you or your husband are NRIs, foreign expats or investment bankers and then the schools see dollar signs! Ka-Ching!

Filling out school admission forms are so stressful for me because the part in the form that I thought would be the strongest for my hubby and me, turns out to be the one I quiver to fill in.
Nandy: B.Com, M.Com (Best college in Bombay for Commerce), Chartered Accountancy- Intermediate, MBA at University of Pittsburgh.
Me: BA (Best College in Bombay for Arts), MA, M.Phil both in English Literature.
No one gives a damn! Did we study at the holy trinity of schools? No! Kicked to the curb.
I have gotten so used to getting reject letters from NURSERY SCHOOLS (yeah- it starts there!) that I don’t even know what an acceptance letter looks like (I hear it’s a call though. Letters are for losers!) The quivering hand now opens the letterbox every morning, so happy to see loads of wasteful junk mail but no rejection… for now. But it comes eventually: “We are sorry that we will not be able to accommodate your child right now as we have limited seats.” I have read those words so many times, I could write the letter in my sleep.

The one thing we have to our advantage is that my parents sent me to the best nursery of that time, and that’s the only reason why Baby A goes to a good play school/ nursery. If I hadn’t been from a great Montessori school, I’m sure we’d be looking at a big RED reject stamp on our foreheads again!

Sometimes, in interviews, they ask the parents, “Do you have any questions for us?” and when they do, every parent is baffled because when you grow up in SoBo, you grow up knowing that you don’t have questions for schools because you don’t choose schools; they choose you! Unless you’re from Cathedral School, and then you can swagger around and tell them that you don’t give a flying f*%k what they have to say because your kid will get into Cathedral anyway, i.e. The Holy Cathedral of cool kids and cool moms.



43 thoughts on “The Holy Trinity of Schooling”

  1. So true ! So very well expressed . It’s only the SoBo mums who go through this whole pressure for admission to the good schools around.

  2. Nidhi you are awesome!! I think all sobo mothers can relate to this. After 3 rejects we finally got a positive! And trust me I started crying the moment the email came! I don’t think I have ever felt so scared and tensed even in my board exams. Guess this whole system in driving everyone crazy!

  3. So nicely written. In the end, the question is Nidhi – would you really want your daughter to go to such a school – where your family heritage (even if schooling heritage) matters more than anything else? It isn’t fair so don’t bother 🙂

    1. Thanks Poorvi! Some of these nursery schools are really good, and some are over-hyped. But honestly, the really good ones, I did want Aranya to get in. The process of admission will usually be unfair if there are limited good schools available.

  4. Awesome article and as always chuckled right through it ! Nidhi – we love you too :)! But the holy trinity is definitely crumbling and thank god for more options with different approaches !

  5. Been there done that and yes even I questioned my husband about why he didn’t go to one of these schools. Lol. Keep them coming Nidhi… Your fellow Mombai swati

  6. Very well expressed bhabhi.. every thought n emotion are so REAL-LY put up .. every mother going through the same phase wud undeniably agree like ME (though in a different city, going through a similar situation) .. infact I wud pinch u HARD we meet next (coz I relate to so many of ur fb updates) .. @mommies of real naughty daughters .. n I loved the name-mombai ..

    1. Ha ha! Thanks! Yeah- Kolakata admissions can be really competitive too. Good luck and glad to know that finally all of us mom-bais are going through the same experiences.

  7. Very well written Nidhs!! So glad you finally got down to putting it up…am sure most moms will relate to it !!
    In fact after S got into his international school I was questioned by his pre-nursery teacher as to why I didn’t apply to the Holy Cathedral school …I mean really !!??

    1. Ha ha ha ha! I think sometimes people also have blinkers and they refuse to understand that there are other fab options too!

  8. Wow!!! This is awesome…I don’t exactly know what half of the words mean…and your vocabulary is outstanding! My English teacher would faint on the spot if they read this! I just want to write like u

    1. Sooooo sweet, my jaan! I see so much of myself in you (except the angelic part, which I never was). And I’m such a big fan of you!

    1. It is hard! And the kids have to go through so much stressful interview training. The stress starts when they are so small and then just keeps building! It’s sad but better to laugh than to cry!

  9. Fantastic article. The marriage criteria is def gonna change.
    Marriage Bio data will have schooling as mandatory. will be in red astricks.

    1. I don’t mean to say anything negative about the schools in this article- it’s just that it’s funny how people get treated like royalty based on where they studied!

  10. You just spoke my fears. I’m already worried about my little ones nursery n school n she’s not even 4 months old.
    As usual well written Nidhi.

  11. Lol. Great article. Loved it. But I would like to point out that there’s also a downside to being a Cathedral school alumni. You get rejected by every other school since they assume you are wasting their seat. And since Cathedral admissions are last, you are screwed if you don’t get in there despite being an alumni!

  12. you got that right . Soooo right !! Seriously “cathedral-ite” holy word for some, bad word for many ..

    1. I love all the Cathedral-ites I know, so much love to them! The problem is with the lack of schools but hopefully, that’s changing. It’s just that a lot of moms also refuse to accept that things are changing, and that there are other good schools too.

  13. Well so so true about the school admissions in South mumbai. It is disgusting that Parents have to be from the holy trinity irrespective of the child calibre. Infact in just got a rejection mail from a SoBo school reason well they know it best. But how do we end this,there has to be some way to enlighten these so called high end Schools or just keep on taking their rejection.

    1. Who’s going to argue with them? Like when I went for a very reputed nursery’s interview, the principal fired me in the interview- just because she could!
      But don’t worry: soon enough the “institutions” will have to get off their high horses because there are so many great schools opening up. The holy trinity shall break down!

    1. Thanks Duja! We all are in the same boat- oh wait! For us non privileged moms, there’s no fancy boat- just a little sailboard that we’re all holding for our lives! lol!

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