Monday, January 3, 2011

measured against the cost of a cup of coffee

Six months ago my daughter started regular school. We had trawled around 20 school starting from the Ryan Global at Andheri Lokhandwala to Don Bosco at Borivli. Our idea of schools is rather old world. I studied at a family run private school called Rosary School in Pune and my wife at the St Ursula School in Nigdi. Both schools did not have airconditioning, did not have new age labs nor new education methods. When we started talking to schools in Mumbai, the first turn off was when the lady at the reception asked us if we could afford a deposit of a couple of lakhs, refundable at the end of the child's school term - and no, interest would not be paid on the deposit. The others wanted to sell a lifestyle to us, one even claimed that our girl would not have to interact with the middle class kids and would not learn their manners! We settled for Maneckji Cooper School at Juhu. And that caused a rather odd problem - it takes 90 minutes to reach the school from where we live. We decided to move and till we found a new home (we did find one eventually) closer to the school, she would use my car - her grandmother found a driver who is from the church she goes to every week.

Our driver is an odd man. He used to drive a tempo - he drives the car like he would drive a tempo even today after 6 months. He has three children - a daughter who is married and two sons who have dropped out of school. He stays in a 'kholi' - a one room dwelling close to where I live. I call my driver odd because he always has some relative who in his words - off ho gaya - the closest translation is the relative has passed away - the 'off' signifying the 'switching off ' of the relative. So far 8 of them have switched off and each time he has wanted an advance. Usually half his salary around the 15th of his month. A month ago I finally asked him how many of his relatives are left? He did not say much, when I asked him if everything was fine with him, he told me about Rs 10000 he had borrowed from some marwadi, and that he had to pay Rs 500 every month as interest. I used to pay him 6500 a month at that time - the amount he asked for. If he paid 500 to the marwadi, he would have Rs 6000 left for the month - Rs 200 a day for a family of 3. Measured against two cups of coffee at the Costa Coffee Shop a day, his family lives on as much as what I pay a month for coffee!

Its a no hope situation - two sons - both dropped out of school when the failed their exams. They do nothing - no hope because there is no way for them to complete their education. We decided to help him pay off his debt. Increased his salary so that he can repay spread over a year or so. The next question was whether I could give up half the cups of coffee a month and use that money to pay for the two kid's education. I am not sure if I want to do it. I am not sure if I want to take that commitment. What if they waste that money? And are really not interested in studying? On the other hand what if they do study and get some part-time jobs and raise their living above the desperation they are in.

It is like investing in a uncharted startup.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

1 comment:

Jade Emperor said...

Mmmm...life is all about treading uncharted territory. What do you have to lose -a couple of cups of coffee? Give it a shot....wish u luck:)

Tweet