A Venture to India (4)

It is evening and we are stuck in traffic. I have already written about the traffic, but now that I am in it at peak time (6.00pmish), trying to get to the India Civil Services Officers’ Institute, I have to admit I have never seen anything like it. Nobody sticks to the lanes . . . no such neat and orderly thing as that. Tuk tuks have an advantage . . . they can squeeze into the smaller spaces left by cars. Buses have size going for them, but that is also a disadvantage. Drivers toot, some even shake their fists out of windows but that does not create space. The sun is going down. It is a fiery ball in the smoggy air that hangs above the city.

Everyone in the car is anxious. We are meant to be at the venue by 6.30 and we are caught in traffic. Someone points out India Gate. I catch a glimpse between vehicle body parts. Magnificent. There are some stunning sights in this busy city and I allow myself a moment of wonder before being brought back to the reality that this is a congested city and we are late. Mrs. Kirmani, plays with her granddaughter. Ira is five months old and gorgeous. She smiles and gurgles as her grandmother sings her a lilting lullaby in tones and harmony that reminds me of a Bollywood movie.  I am then told she has sung in movies and on the radio. The Bollywood sound is so distinctive and enchanting, it takes away the edge that creeps into the car over the traffic.

At last, we pull into the car park outside the multi-level India Civil Services Officers’ Institute. The décor recalls the days of the Raj as I walk through the door. It is very impressive with chandeliers hanging above spiral staircases. I begin to get an understanding of the importance of the evening, especially when the women step out of the car in their stunning saris. I dressed up in glittering top but nothing I wear matches the gorgeousness of these saris. Shades of gold, regal purple, blues and reds drape around each woman’s body complemented by wonderful gold jewellery.

I am greeted by Shiraz’s father and introduced to famous writers, teachers, school principals and business people. The group PATSIndia has brought together is truly impressive. Shiraz’s wife, Harpreet presents me with the most gorgeous bunch of flowers. A yellow orchid sits in the middle. I take them and lay them carefully on the table in front of me.

I feel so humbled by everyone’s hospitality.

In his self-assured way, Shiraz speaks about PATSIndia. He emphasises the importance of online exam preparation. This is the way of the future as the exercises are self-directed and the sample questions change all the time so there is no chance that students can memorise questions and answers. It is a tremendous system and allows students to prepare for exams in their own time, in addition to the work they do at school. It is such an excellent system and demonstrates the invaluable extra dimension online learning brings to education.

That is why the partnership between The Story Mint and PATSIndia is so good. We are helping students to prepare for their futures. Our systems give them control over their own learning outcomes.

I then give my presentation. My notes consist of a tiny piece of paper with headings. I rarely refer to them and I feel so much better about how it goes. The slides Mack prepared for the visit to India are excellent. They are perfect cues for the points I make about becoming a confident writer. I emphasise that it is a journey, and the Style Guide™ a tool to help learners along that journey.

I especially like Mack’s definition of The Story Mint, which reads, ‘it is an interface to assist writers to improve their skills. Driven by a global gathering of writers and our Intelligent Language Algorithm, The Story Mint is a suite of applications for aspiring writers, students, bloggers and professionals’.

After the formalities we go downstairs to eat. The dinner is wonderful. It is perfect for vegetarians and so very delicious. It is not hot or too spicy but it tastes like nothing I have ever had before. I love the way they do the vegetables, especially cauliflower and the green harissa. Delicious.

The reception is to promote the PATSIndia/The Story Mint partnership and we send out a strong signal that we are committed to giving learners a way to improve their command of their subjects and to shape successful futures. All my life, I have wanted to do something like this and here I am doing it in India.

It is such an amazing thought. That night I fall into bed, exhausted but awed by what is taking place.