Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Pet Peeves of a Home Tutor.

Until I logged into this blog, I didn't realise that my previous post was also a rant about taking tuitions online. But hey, apparently that's what inspires me to write right now, so lets just go with the flow.

Having been a tutor for 8 years and an online tutor for over 18 months now, there are a few things that have continued to bug me over the years.

Missing classes/ attending classes regularly

I hate it when students or their parents don't inform me when they are going to be missing a class. I think this is top of the list because it makes me feel like some back up plan. 'If I don't have a doctor's appointment, if I don't have an event at school, if I don't have any other tuitions/ classes, then I will attend my chemistry class.' Sometimes I feel like this is the thought process that goes inside a student's head. Just because I take classes online or from home does not mean that all of my time is free time. What sucks even more is when they say "I forgot about class". Nothing annoys me more than that.

Another problem I face, now this is more with the parents than the student, is when they tellme that their child is still not improving, and they know for a fact that the child has not been regular to class. I had a student who would turn up for 3 out of 4 classes in a month (yes she only came for 4 classes because she was so busy with 5 other classes, that she only had time for 1 class a week for chemistry), sometimes it would only be 2 classes in a month, and the mother kept asking me why she was not getting beyond 70% in her chemistry papers. Really now, I wonder why?

There is also this set of parents who will realise that their child needs help in chemistry only 2 months before the Finals, and then request me to "just clarify the child's doubts and give a few tips and tricks to ensure that he/ she is able to get 95 or more". I get reassurances that the child will attend as many classes as needed in a week so long as it does not clash with his Maths, Physics, Computer or Hindi classes, and that he will work really hard and write as many papers possible. How much did the child get in the Mock exam ? -70 or so. Oh I'm sorry, do I look like Jesus or Sai Baba. I am not miracle worker.

Tests/ Homework etc. 

I don't give a lot of homework. Actually I barely give any homework for one simple reason- It is a waste of time. I spend 2 hours finding questions and compiling it to send to the student, and the child, more often than not, either does not do it despite repeated reminders, or they do a half hearted job where they have answered only 2 out of 8 questions. Clearly they have not even attempted it. This is why I just prefer to work out questions with hem in class. Atleast I know they don't know anything and can just make them practice.

I am the type of teacher who believes in giving the child a lot of freedom. I always check with them about when they would like to do revision, which chapters they want to revise first, and make them set a date to do a mock exam. I think a 16 year old is mature enough to figure a schedule for themselves. But of course, they go to prove me wrong right there. They either postpone the mock exam/ test and never write it. Sometimes I spend a good 6 hours setting a 70 mark paper, scan it and send it to them, only hear that they have no "time" to write a mock exam because they are busy studying. Basically my 6 hour effort is not time spent for setting a paper specifically for them! How is that fair to me. I mean I asked them before getting into it. Some people will complain that I am too nice, but I've seen that being harsh doesn't really help the child do better. So what's the point of that?

Another thing that especially annoys me with respect to being an online tutor, is when students "answer a test" and I find that most of the answers are straight out of the text book, but the child denies it. Honesty is a thing of the past. There are some parents who will also go to the extent of defending their oh-so-honest child but will not make the effort to ensure that their child is putting in the effort to prepare for a test. Online tutoring has to be a two way street. The parent who is with the child must be

When I send question papers to my students, I always make sure that I have bright light, and I use Cam Scanner to get a neat scan of the sheets of paper, I number the pages, then I email it. Guess how I get the answer scripts for correction? Pictures clicked with barely any light. Answers out of focus. Pages not numbered. Scrawny scribbling. Questions not numbered. And all of this images sent via whatsapp. I am planning to include the doctor consultation fees and the price of my spectacles in the student's fees from now on. Clearly I require medical reimbursement for all of my effort to correct one answer script. Let's not forget the emotional trauma I go through when I see how terribly the child is faring. Next will begin the search for a good therapist.

Finally I would like to sum up and say that I have had some fantastic students who are prompt , on time, and worked so very hard. I am extremely proud of them even today. But there are a few students who will remain etched in my memory for all the wrong reasons.


Monday, March 26, 2018

The Sorrows of Being a Home Tutor.

It has been 3 years since I quit my job as a full time teacher and have been working for myself. Let's just call it freelance, since that is a more fancy term. As much as I love working from home as a personal tutor, it comes with a set of challenges and hurdles like every other job. I say job, because trust me taking care of the house + trying to have your own set up is double the work. Only a person who is doing it will understand and empathize. 

So a few days ago I had posted on Facebook that I had some mock NEET papers if anyone was interested. I got quite a few responses but sadly none of them were ready to pay for the effort and time I spent in writing these papers. In fact once I mentioned that it was a paid service, people just disappeared without a response. Why would I hand out my hardwork for free is something that I cannot comprehend. Do you know how long it takes to gather questions and type them out and proofread them and make sure that are up to the mark. DO YOU?.

The same thing happens when I tell people how much I charge for a single class via Skype. I get inquiries from parents who say that their child definitely needs help blah blah blah. But mention how much they have to pay and then it is silence on the other end of the phone with the awkward "we'll get back to you, ma'am." Sure as hell I will never hear from them again.

Yes I am frustrated because people will pay tens of thousands to a coaching centre where there are 100 odd students and the same repeated question papers from the previous year, but when someone is giving individual time and effort, it is is brushed off as something not worth paying for. And I ask why not! In what way is a Skype class worth less than any other class. I am still putting in a 100% effort to do the best for your child.

Then the next issue is when people just assume that you will be free to take class any time because after all you "work from home". I get dime a dozen questions- why do I not take classes on weekends, why not early morning classes, why not classes till 9pm. And of course they think it is it okay to just message me any time saying that their child wants class at so-and-so time on so-and-so date. It isn't a query. It is a command. Because they pay me, I am their beck and call, right? WRONG.

What I hate even more is when they don't inform me that they cannot attend class on a particular day. I will be signed into Skype and just waiting and waiting but no child turns up. Is it not courtesy to inform a person that you will not be coming for class? It isn't like I have 50 kids so I won't miss one. I was online waiting for you, the one and only child I am teaching during that scheduled time. I could have been clicking pictures for my blog if I had known that the child was not going to turn up, and lets not forget that they have the audacity to ask why I charged for a class that they never attended. I'm sorry, do you ask the school to refund money for the days when your child takes a sick leave?

People think being a freelancer is fancy, but trust me, it is NOT! It sucks on a bunch of different levels and it is super hard. When your time and effort is not appreciated, it just makes you wonder why on earth you work so hard.

Despite all my frustration, I have had some wonderful parents and students and that is the only reason that I will continue to do what I am doing. That and the fact that I really do love teaching.

Right. End of Rant.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

6 lessons learnt in 6 months of marriage

Yes it has been 6 months since I got married. Time Flies would be the understatement of the year. 6 months of being Mrs Krupa. 6 months of living in a new house with a new family. So what have these 6 months been like? Well a roller coaster indeed, but a slightly tame one.

Here are 6 things that I have learnt in these 6 months of being married.

1) Wedding Albums are the the most tiring job.
When I said 6 months of being married, I am sure the thought crossed your mind that you haven't seen my wedding pictures yet. Well if you are friends with my dad on Facebook you would have seen some snippets, but the album is not yet printed and I have not yet updated any pictures on my Facebook yet. Why?? Well the first 2,3 months just seeing the pictures got me very emotional and I all I could do was stare the pictures and not really think logically about what to print and what to discard. The next 2-3 months just went by in a whirl of household duties, travel and general laziness. Honestly putting together the album was not as fun as posing for it was.

2) Don't opt to make Puri when you are heading out for the day.
Did that title make you go 'eh'?? Well the story goes like this. I really wanted to make puri sagoo one weekend as breakfast and it so happened that I ended up making this on a day when I had to head out in the morning. It took me well over 60 minutes to roll out about 40 odd puris and lets not forget another hour to get the sagoo done before that. What's the lesson learnt here? A major one in time management. Don't choose to go in for elaborate menus when you need to go out. You don't need to try and impress anyone.

3) There is still an 'I' in Marriage
I still refer to the wedding as MY wedding when I talk to my husband, and he looks at me and says -OUR wedding. So yes there is a lot of WE, US, OURS in a marriage, but that doesn't mean there is no I.
I still go to meet up with my friends, I still blog and take tuition. He still plays cricket. I still wear makeup and shoot outfit pics. He still heads out for badminton over the week. So every activity is not an us activity and it is totally okay. It is good in fact to have your own hobbies. Definitely keeps you sane.

4) Spontaneity is enjoyable when you plan in advance.
Before the wedding my husband warned me that he loves late night drives, random visits to the ice cream parlour, and spontaneous travel plans. I am like the least spontaneous person. My OCD for being planned is real and can be a bit of a problem at times. However post marriage there have been too many circumstances where I have had to drop all of my plans and just go with the flow. Of course I was annoyed initially, but then I figured that I only was I could really enjoy impulsive plans is by finishing up my work in advance. Like for example, this post is being drafted 3 days before it has to go live. Now even if I cannot look at the laptop for the next 3 days, I still have the post all ready to go and I am not going to be all cranky because I didn't get this up on the 9th.
But to be honest, I do kind of enjoy the random visits for pancakes at 10pm, so being spontaneous is not all bad.

5) Going home means 1 of 2 places.
They say home is where the heart is right? Well my heart is torn between Bangalore and Chennai. How do I know this?
When we went on a trip recently and I recall thinking to myself, I cannot wait to get home i.e. back to Chennai. I smiled at that thought because I realised that I had accepted it as home. It was my new sanctuary, my place to be me, my room, my bed, my wardrobe brimming with clothes (Okay I mean our room, our bed,and our wardrobe but you get the point right?). 

6 ) Marriage is only as hard as you make it.
A lot of people told me that you need to work on your marriage every day. The relationship needs to be nurtured and taken care of. You need to put in effort to keep things smooth. 6 months down the line I find myself wondering why marriage is hard. Yes of course it needs some adjustments every now and then, but isn't that the case even with your friends and siblings. No one ever comments that friendship requires work to be maintained. Nope, all they say is that if you are truly friends then you can just pick up from anywhere.
Well I think being married is just the same. It is only as hard as you decide to make it.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Story of How I said Yes.

So yesterday was the story of how Come See the Girl happened. Today is the story of how I said yes.
I could cut the long story short and give you a summary, but what's the fun in that?

So the day after Come and See the girl, we decided to go and see the boy in his house. Why was I going to meet a guy I had already seen? I had a very simple logic to it, which was that people show their true colours in their natural habitat. So seeing the guy in his house might give me a bit more insight into who he was. Maybe there was something I had missed out on during our one hour conversations over the phone or maybe something I didn't notice when he came to meet us the previous day. Maybe I was looking for a reason to get out of this. Maybe I wasn't sure why I was saying maybe even though I wanted to say yes.

We reached their house and I walked into the door to find a swing in the middle of the house. The smile that crept up on my face was just unmistakable. I turned to see my father enter the house and smile at me. Both of us knew we were in the right place. This was THE house. The peacefulness that set over us as we sat on that oonjal (swing) was just indescribable.

After the formalities of being stuffed with tea, kesari and bonda, we all looked at each other knowing that it was time to leave, but no one was sure of the next step. And now comes the twist in the tale.

My father turned to tell his father that they would talk to the girl aka me, and come to a decision soon. However my father-in-law-to-be clearly didn't want to wait. He looked me in the eye (and I was sitting right opposite him) and asked " What do you say ma?"

I said "I'm okay".

What ensued next was 3 seconds of pin drop silence and then mayhem.

My father looked at the boy to ask if he was okay with it. My aunt and uncle were already discussing possible marriage halls and potential caterers with my mother-in-law-to-be. The guy, whom I  had just said yes to, was trying to catch my eye to see if I was truly okay with it. My mom sidled over to me, held my hand and whispered in my ear "are you sure?". I nodded a yes and looked up to see my father looking at me with this mixture of happiness and worry in his eyes. He raised his eyebrows and I smiled to assure him about my decision. He smiled back. We both had tears in our eyes. Controlled ones. Emotional fools that we are.

I texted my sister to tell her I had said yes. I had said yes to getting married and she hadn't even seen the guy. What was I thinking?? Panic set in at this point. What had I just done?? What was I thinking? Had I been thinking? OMG I was getting MARRIED!!!

Thousands of emotions washed over me with anxiety and excitement being the most predominant ones. And then he called. He called to say how happy he was that I had said yes. How happy his parents were and that he was thankful to me for saying yes and making everyone happy. Who says thank you?? This was one gem of a guy and I knew at that point that I had a made the right decision. Probably the best decision in my life, but shhhh.. don't let my husband know that.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Ponnu Pathufying Scenes (Come see the girl story)

Marriages are a one long list of customs and rituals. Starting from the process of going through the profiles, rejecting some, saying yes to a few, getting the horoscopes matched and then narrowing down to meeting a person, it is a long journey. What is it like to see profiles on a matrimony site? Well that is a post of its own. One that I have been dying to talk about for a while, but not sure how to do it without offending people. 

Anyway today I am going to talk about the final step in the process before the engagement, the Ponnu Parkadhu which literally translates to "come and see the girl".

Traditionally the girl is dressed in her best silks, accessorised with gold to show off the status of the family, and asked to bring out the coffee to give to the boy's side. I am refraining from calling him the groom because at this point he is technically not the groom yet. The girl is expected to look all shy, be coy and steal glances at the man who might be her future husband. It is supposed to be the first time their eyes meet and instantaneously wedding bells ring all around. The girl's ability to sing, dance, make coffee, mingle with the family, while maintaining sufficient distance from the boy, yet getting to know him is all tested in one shot. This scene in the movies ranges from being hilarious to humiliating.

Now in my case, things were fairly different. For starters, I never thought I would be going through this entire rigmarole (a word my teacher in school used to use quite often). Nevertheless, 2-3 weeks after I had started having a conversation with this guy (now my husband), my parents and his parents were convinced that we had to meet. Okay okay even I wanted to meet him, but I wanted a date. What I got was a room full of people and a chaperoned conversation in a room within the house. Are you rolling on the floor laughing yet? No? Okay I am continuing. 

So we drove down to Chennai one fine Friday. How did I feel at this point? I was excited and anxious. I really didn't know how these things work. Not like I had gotten married before to know how this works. I hadn't told anyone about this situation because I didn't want to jinx it. Sure I liked this guy but was I ready to get married to him? I wasn't sure. (Okay I was lying I kind of knew I wanted to say yes to him but we'll get to that later).

Friday afternoon saw me doing what I love the most- wearing a sari and getting my makeup game on. I had be warned to not go overboard with the makeup. I was wearing my favourite blue sari and tried to look as demure as possible. My instructions were simple- stay inside the AC room until you are called. Ugh! It was so boring. I was texting my sister (who was partying in Goa that day) about how this family was no punctual and I was waiting and waiting for them to come. Then all of a sudden, I was told to come out of the room and serve the bajji. Why not the coffee you ask? Well they were afraid I would trip and spill the coffee along with any hopes of getting this family to say yes to me. 

 To add to things I was in this ultimate state of uncontrollable giggles. The situation was just funny to me. I was also itching to get some alone time with him to talk to him. My brilliant idea of going out for a coffee with him (just like in Kalyana Samayal Sadham) was ruined by the fact that his car was parked in an inconvenient place and taking the car out would be a problem. He looked at me with a I'm-so-sorry-because-I-know-this-is-not-what-you-wanted smile, and I had no choice but say okay, lets sit inside the room which has been specifically set up for us to have a "private" conversation. #EMBARRASSING

After that, we both have no recollection of how the next 2 hours went by. It was just like talking to him over the phone. The comfort level was unbelievable and I knew I had to say yes. But how do I say yes? He never asked me if it was a yes from my end. 

That night I got advise from everyone on why I should yes to this guy. I was told to think about it, to sleep on it, to not think about it, to not get stressed and a whole of gyan about how this was a wonderful family. And thus ended the Ponnu Parthufying. 

So how did I finally say yes you ask? Well that goes up tomorrow.

And oh if you are wondering why this post goes up today, it is because today marks 1 year since this scenario.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

What I don't expect from my husband

Okay so the previous post was after I said yes. Lets rewind a bit to the start. The very beginning, when my profile was uploaded onto the matrimony website. So a lot of people asked me what I sort of husband I wanted, or what I expected from my husband.
This is what I would have liked to put as a write up on the matrimony site.

Dear hubby-to-be

Lets just clarify a few things right now. I am a strong independent woman. I don't need you to carry my shopping bags, but if you come along it would be great. I get an extra pair of hands and more bags can be carried. I don't need you to know that MAC is a makeup brand, so long as you don't ask me "why do you need one more lipstick", it is all good. I don't need your credit card, but if you do offer to pay I am not going to say no. I don't need your shoulder to cry on, but I would prefer it to a cold pillow. I don't need you to tell me that I look gorgeous, I know it, but if you do it definitely buys you brownie points. You don't have to plan surprises. I get that it may not be your forte, but if you did, I would love you more for just trying. You don't have to remember all of my best friends names, but it would be great if you just told me that you don't remember rather than pretend you do. I don't expect you to understand the pain I go through when I am on my cycle, but don't throw me glances which say "Damn I dunno when she'll have a mood swing now". You don't need to ask my permission for a boys night out, but you sure as hell better have some sense as to when not to go. I don't expect you to understand why I can't stand some of your girl friends, but please don't ask me to be buddies with them.

In short, I don't expect anything from you except that you should know what I expect.


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

I said Yes.

I said yes. I cannot believe I said yes without even thinking. Well more precisely without over thinking. What did I say yes to? I said yes to getting married. To getting married to a guy I've spoken to for less than 2 weeks. To a guy I've never held hands with, or had ice cream with, and never said I love you too. But yes, I said yes to him.

Me, the girl who has had thoughts of marriage since the age of 22, whose thoughts on marriage have evolved over the years but has not changed from that one basic criteria. The criteria that the guy I marry should let me be who I am. Me, the girl who at the age of 30 was sure that I would land up with one of those very typical thayir sadham loving, showing signs of prosperity around the belly, visits the temple every other day, and says 'abishtu abishtu' at the idea of cooking with garlic and eggs, kind of guy. I said yes to getting married.

I am not fond of change. This space on the Internet has heard me say that one too many times. I fear change despite knowing that change is the only constant. Yet the last two years has seen me grow with change. It has seen me move from one to another change in my life and I like to believe I have done it with grace. Now comes this. Marriage. The next big change in my life and I said yes to it.

I know I know that I left a lot of dialogues in my previous post about marriage, about wanting a guy who is like this and who isn't like that, etc etc, blah blah. But would you believe it if I told that I found a guy better than all of that. I'm still learning more about him as each day passes. I am still finding out that he is more than what meets the eye. I am still discovering that he is mature, sensible, grounded, fun and amazingly lovable. But I said yes, because he is the sanity to my craziness. He is the partner in crime, the shoulder to cry on, the friend, the roomate and more importantly he's The One.

I said yes because when I wrote about what I wanted in a guy to get married to him, I never thought I would find it. I am not getting my simple wedding, but in comparison to the lifetime of happiness that I am getting, it seemed like a small sacrifice. So I said yes. Yes I am getting married.