Q for Queue

In this era of ‘Digital India’, booking a movie ticket, purchasing a product, paying bills or transferring money can all be done online. Sitting in the comfort of my room, I would usually feel that the world had decided to make itself available at my fingertips. As an erstwhile Banking professional, I strongly advocated the usage of online portals as a medium to save time and harrowing experiences of standing in a queue. Of course, there are people like my seventy-year-old father who have no trust in this virtual medium and still prefer to visit a Bank or the local market in person. But we belong to the generation of comfort-seekers and I had no clue that my life was going to become so offline dependent once the school admission season started. 

The first school which came out with the admission notice (the interview in English only one) delighted us with the option of having forms available through both online and offline mode. We had assumed the rest of the schools in our list would have a similar process. It came as a rude shock when the next school (a new age school with world-class infrastructure and facilities) asked us to collect the form in person either from the school campus or a designated Bank branch.

The next school was even more difficult. We had to collect the forms from their school campus during a designated duration (three hours only) on any of the two dates mentioned in the notice. This school was famous for forms getting out of stock on the first day itself. For a 200 student intake, the number of applications always went to 2000. From what we had heard, the parents had to stand in a queue outside the school campus from as early as 5 am (I am sure this will remind you of the movie Hindi Medium starring Irrfan Khan or the Bengali movie Ramdhanu). Though the reality was not so disastrous, the number of parents standing in the queue on day one was more than to a thousand.

Even for the other three schools that we had decided to apply to, the process involved offline issuance of forms only. Like I had previously mentioned, with a husband posted in a different town, it was always me who ended up standing in a queue beating the hot and humid weather and hunger pangs. This seemed to be life’s way of getting even with me. The only time that I had ever stood in a queue until then was to get an entry in a restaurant in Bangalore over the weekend. What I hadn’t realized at that point was that this was just the first phase or beginning of standing in queues.

Queuing up
Queuing up

The second phase of queueing happened during submission of filled application forms along with attached requisite documents in the school. In most of the schools, this was usually a two-step process which involved verification of documents at one counter and submission at a different window. Basically, we moved from queue 1 to queue 2 and seemed to be stuck in the same or different rooms for hours. Submission usually had just a forty-eight-hour duration at pre-decided timing by the school. 

Out of the six schools that we had applied for, one of the schools had an unusually strict process of shortlisting. So 1500 children were shortlisted of 2000 + applications post which we had to queue up again to complete the registration process for the future interaction. This third stage of queueing usually happened on a single day only within a two-hour duration which meant this turned out to be the longest queue in all these three stages of queuing.  I guess this is how the school passed on the message to the parents that the struggle had only begun.

The fourth stage of queuing was generally organized since it involved a shorter duration to reach the stage of interaction. Usually, the interviews were taken based on the sequence of registration or application numbers bringing down the waiting period. There were a couple of exceptions though where the interaction was poorly mismanaged and no sequence was maintained. 

The fifth stage of queueing had more resemblance to a luxury boutique store with a limited period of sale having people gather outside for the store to open. Once the store opened, the force with which people rushed inside could only be compared to the flow of passengers in and out of any Mumbai local train. In case, you are still wondering about the strange fifth stage, it happens on the date when the results of selection or rejection are announced. The new age schools maintain an online portal to check the results while for the traditional ones, the only way to know them is to fight it out with a thousand other people in front of the notice board. While taller people have an advantage in spotting the names earlier because of their height, there are exceptions like Sr. T who could be the only one standing in front of the notice board and yet fail to locate Tuneer’s name or roll number.

Once the child gets selected to a school, the parent heaves a sigh of relief. Sadly, it turns out to be a reaction given out too soon. The sixth stage of queueing happens on the date of admission of the child. The process of submission might simply involve handing over of the requisite documents along with the Demand Draft (the most essential item) or it could be a multiple staged process consisting of a collection of new forms, filling them and submitting them in various counters.

The seventh stage of queueing follows soon after with the parents waiting in lines to collect books, school uniforms, school shoes and the rest of the mandatory merchandise from various counters and spots of the school. The completion process of the seventh stage could actually involve a single visit or multiple visits.

And here begins another stage of life
And here begins another stage of life

After getting done with all the requisite formalities for the child to start school, the parents can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. It turns out to be an emotion expressed too early again. Because on the first day of the school, parents realize that the department of queueing has only shifted from the admission office to the front of the school gate. Now they stand in line to hand over their child to the respective class teacher and then wait in front of the designated spot to collect the child back from school. Instead of calling this the eighth stage, I would rather label it as the first stage in queuing in the life of a school going toddler’s parent that is expected to undergo more such eventful queuing struggles for the next one year.

I hope you enjoyed reading the above-mentioned experiences since I had a lot of fun recollecting them today. I will be back with a fresh post on ‘R’ tomorrow. You can catch up on my previous posts in this series here.

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Who am I? An Ex-Banker turned Blogger/Writer/Solopreneur. Any qualifications? A Postgraduate degree in Chemistry followed by Post Graduate Diploma in Management. I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots to what I do presently. Have I done any real work? If two years in Market Research and six years in Banking (three different Banks though) as Branch Head can be considered as real work. Where do I live? After a nomadic sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Food, travel, books and my three and half-year-old toddler son What is this blog about? Sonia's musings is an attempt to channelize emotions through words and pictures hoping they touch a chord with my visitors.

36 thoughts on “Q for Queue”

  1. In my entire education, I hardly remember standing in Queue. The big CET seat selection course was also systematic, no-queue manner. As you said while watching Hindi Medium movie I thought it is just fiction. We don’t have kids in our family so I never came to know about such incidents. After reading your posts I’m realizing how difficult it is for parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have watched the film, ‘Hindi Medium’. it was a hilarious take on the seriousness of the admission process.
    Fortunatelt I didnt have to take lots of pains for my son’s school admissions. All the employees’s kids of the department were bound to be admitted to school. The professional college admissions were all online and we were happy.
    I prefer to book my bus rain flight tickets via Portals.
    https://ideasolsi65.blogspot.com/2019/04/quadriceps-parts-of-body.html

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your quest for Tuneer’s admission and the subsequent write ups for sure make up for an interesting and unique bestseller. These self inflicted bouts of humor are a rage and must have helped so many parents in their tryst with the system. Nonetheless, I enjoy them thoroughly and dread the day when we would be tormented to the same pleasure 😛 .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your journey makes me realise that getting admission for children in metro cities is indeed a back breaking task. I genuinely hope you are spared the trouble to queue up again and the school allows you everything online.

    Like

  5. First off: Tuneer in his uniform is adorable.
    I have had my share of queues in my life so far. I know the pain you mention. Believe me when I say this is just the beginning. You will repeat some of the stages of queuing every school year for books, uniforms and such! Sigh

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Must say Tuneer looks very smart in his uniform. I remember the queue system as well. It can be very irritating by the time we reach the last stage. Loved the way you defined each stage of the queues.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank fully for me the one school that I was to apply for both my kids, had an online application system. The first time around though, I was required to go to submit the print copy of the downloaded form. But this year this particular school asked us to make only one visit that was to attend the interaction session. But I know of a couple of schools, rather my own school in Chandigarh, where there is a queue from morning 5 am onwards. And yes these are the coveted schools. My mother would have said, that this post made her relive her days of her efforts to get us admitted to school.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Phew!! I am exhausted just reading about the queues! 😛
    Standing in a queue is something not many Indians have learned well, or are accustomed to. Forgive me if I am mistaken, but that’s something I have noticed. So, I can only imagine the kind of chaos that must happen inside people’s mind when they stand in these never ending queues for their kids’ admissions.

    Tuneer is a cutie pie–looks just like you, Sonia! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There are queues in older Bangalore schools too – but for the newer schools, the queue is less but nevertheless, it is there… India and queues go hand in hand…:)
    Tuneer looks adorable …reminds me of my son several years ago…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. sometime its really horrible to be a part of a queue, earlier i had to stand in a queue to check the result or paying the landline bill.
    It was really a nice write up with the real life experiences and humor added made it for charming.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I hate standing in a queue. In the eighties I remember standing in queue to get a rail ticket, to get ration, to get gas cylinder, to get a DTC bus pass. Even for birth and death, one had to stand in queue. So much has changed over time we get a lot of things done over the net. In this context I am surprised at a school asking parents to collect form from school, and the form runs out. This would not be a problem if the form was available online also. Those who love to stand in a queue can go to school, others lazy like me should be able to download the form. I am surprised at the intransigence and obdurate protest of political leadership again introduction of digital system.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Tuneer in uniform, handsome little man 🙂 much love and best wishes for his new journey. Been through similar situation recently with my daughter’s admission process but I faced the cons of the online payment gateways, where system was down due to do the financial year-end and school was no more accepting online payments and we had to go to school to pay the fees, then to collect book one day, then to give uniform measurement another day and every time we had to stand in queue as per the time allotted class wise. Finally, her school began and now I just stand to pick and drop her to the school bus point 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Queues queues n queues. In a country that large in population, it comes naturally to us to wait for basics. I have waited for 5 hours at stretch with my 2 year old for a doctor consultation in mumbai and it is the worst memory of his childhood… thankfully for their school we did a lot of research before hand, spoke to parents, took reveiws, shortlisted one and my kids cleared their admission criteria too…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. All the best to Tuneer for this new phase. He looks like a smart young man!
    When schools have changed almost everything about themselves, why stick to this queue and Demand Draft torture? My heart goes out to all you parents, Sonia.

    Like

  15. Tuneer is like a mini-Sonia:)
    Yes, queues are still a considerable part of our lives and we have to deal with them! Good luck for the new phase in life.

    Like

  16. Tuneer is like a mini-Sonia:)
    Yes, queues are still a considerable part of our lives and we have to deal with them! Good luck for the new phase in life.

    Like

  17. Your post. as always, took me back to my queuing up days. Beautifully written, Sonia. Loved your smooth and interesting descriptions.
    Best wishes for the rest of your A to Z.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. KR Manglam school , New Delhi is renowned for its queues .. that was scene till 2012 .. no idea now. One day when we reached at 7 we did not get the form .. people started queuing at 4 ( imagine Delhi winters are admission process is 1st week jan with sub zero temp) Next day I was in line by 6 got the form at around 10. Luckily the process pissed me off so I didn’t even pursue

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The gentleman looks stud in his uniform. All the very best to Tuneer for his new phase of life. May Goddess Saraswati bless him always. I don’t understand why cant school make things simpler for the parents as well as for the staff too by doing things online. I mean when there are online coaching classes available today, then why this daunting queue system? I am sure it was a project for you guys, Sonia but glad you made it and hope there wont be any queues further.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hahaha! Yupp! I have heard all of this from parents who come to my stationery store! 😀
    Btw, your post reminded me of all the queues during my college days. Same process every year. Forms, admit cards, results…
    Find my Q post @ 7 Must-Try Quirky Food Combinations | Weird Food Combinations That Taste Amazingly Delicious

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Oh God! This post scares me. When I was reading I really felt that the counting of stages will continue beyond 15or20. But 8 stages of the queue that you have written about is still a huge number. I wonder why all the schools have not made their forms available online? They are not in sync with Digital India!
    Kudos to you for going through such a harrowing experience…
    so much to get our kids getting admitted to a good school…it makes me wonder why the administration is not doing anything to simplify the process.
    Quickening

    Like

  22. The struggle is real! This one had an apt humor. 🙂
    I am happy that my home town education isn’t this commercialized (if that is the right word. Not sure though) yet. But we sure are moving towards it! I see the vibes.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Been in those queues myself, although I don’t recollect there being so many of them. Added to these there are queues in school tuckshops for books, uniforms and shoes as well. You’re able to find humour in such a frustrating situation too, Sonia. Commendable, really! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Tuneer looks cute in the uniform. All the best to the kiddo. Yes heard that these queues are really tough especially during admissions. Fortunately, since we chose the alternate system, we never have to deal with this problem till date. But for some schools in Chennai, people stand in queues whole night just to get the admission forms

    Liked by 1 person

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