That mandatory education till secondary – from a perspective of a ‘pahaadi’

According to NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training) in 1987, about 94% of the rural population of India was ‘served’ by the primary school within 1km, better still 85…

Source: That mandatory education till secondary – from a perspective of a ‘pahaadi’


That mandatory education till secondary – from a perspective of a ‘pahaadi’



According to NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training) in 1987, about 94% of the rural population of India was ‘served’ by the primary school within 1km, better still 85% had a middle school within 3kms.

Sounds ok, right? Wait until you see the terrain. What experts consider ‘walking distance’ ignores the hardship it takes to reach the schools. Recently, I came across an opportunity to interact with students of such school. The distance between their village to the school is not more than 4-5kms. it takes about say an hour to reach the school, and back home the time extends for almost an hour and a half. So approximately 2 hours and half an hour of commuting.

Now considering these students are not residing in urban areas, so minus travel infrastructure, subtract accompaniment of known or unknown seniors and also access to mushroomed medication clinics.

The terrain took us (non-localites) almost 3 hours one way, the road was not just kaccha (not built), but also average just 2-3 feet wide. While one side was covered with cut mountains and sharp rocks, the other side was laced with an open valley. at the bottom of the valley, there flown a river bouncing noisily on the rocks.

No matter how many newspaper, magazine articles you may read, you will never feel the ultimate truth, unless you visit one of these students. The school in this post is in Himachal Pradesh, the town is called Sewa.

Sewa being  the last town with any civilized amenities, the only school and post are stationed here. the school provides education till 12th standard post which many find their way to bigger towns in Himachal Pradesh or support family run apple growing business.

Although for these boys trekkers laden with heavy backpacks is not a strange scene, after all, Sewa to Jhanka is a key route to Rupin pass.

These school Boys in the red sweater and blue trousers and girls in blue skirt and red sweater travel every day to school from this route, in groups, sometimes with siblings sometimes with classmates. Sometimes guide strangers sometimes change marked arrows and have a hearty laugh at over smart urbanites. I have been told that parents or relatives are not welcomed on this route. Peers make fun of those who gets accompanied by elderly.

It is a Govt school, many times one teacher teaches for combined grades. Sometimes teachers get bored and leave the place in the middle of the semester. But for these students school is a place to learn, make friends and play games, just like students in a plush convent at metros.



I met many students who were turning red due to harsh sun, racing on those difficult mountains, resting on big rocks and taking sips from small plastic bottles or streams, with twinkling eyes and eagerness to share.

When I told them where I am from, I mistakenly presumed they will ask me abt Bollywood stars, but they didn’t. One bright kid just said, “I would like to come to Mumbai because I like the sea and I want to become rich and build a proper road here so that no wild animal can ever prey on young ones after dark.”

It is indeed appreciative how the Govt is providing education but let’s not go by km next time. Terrain matters too.

Call me “ohh, so lucky”… or learn to score a kickass sabbatical..

We work, we push our boundaries everyday, we clock 60+(sometimes 70+) hours at workweeks, juggle between internal and external stakeholders and canteen boys, float through the traffic – all this for that salary with insane income tax cut?

Let me ask a cliched question to you, when was the last time you did something for the first time? When is it that you stopped questioning the world around you, that easing into it?

Does it bother you, to be transfixed to your chair right now (unless you are reading this on your smarter than yourself smart phones), do you hear stories of those who took a leap of faith to explore their passion? May be then, it’s high time that you need a break.

I was called ‘lucky’, ‘a fortunate employee’, ‘a rebellious daughter’, ‘a prudent badass friend’ and what not.

But let me tell you a secret, if I could, so do you.

This article is not my explanation to you, but may be a guiding point as to how to score a kick ass sabbatical (read long leave) and making the most of it.

I got here because this all epicness had to be lived and not just dreamt about. I traveled – answered the call! You may have other passions to be looked after, but immersing into the culture of Ladakh was for me.

I meet a lot of travelers on the way, some of them are travelling with impulse, while others with different levels of planning. If you belong to my kind, lists and plans will help you sort your life better.. I am an eternal admirer of Chriss McCandles, but isn’t being carefree and reckless two different things?

No one needs to have deadlocks or swanky backpacks to be a traveler, the prerequisite is not even having a bag full of gold – but passion for and compassion while travelling.

There’s absolutely no harm in planning your career and finances better.

You are after all an individual blessed with a sense of responsibility, and why should you be not? It is okay to be a bit stable financially. Not rich, don’t wait till you accumulate uncle Scrooge wealth, but something you can sustain with after returning to civilization (that is if you wish to return), at least for a month or so, or till you secure another job. It’s not most important but it will keep off your worries. There are travelers who travel without wallets, but if you are not that, ensure you save it for the future as well.

Plan your sabbatical (long leave) in advance, inform your manager… and be ready to quit.

Plan your career absence and inform your manager well in advance. Giving such intimations work on multiple fronts, 1) you come across as a responsible coworker (easier to convince the manager therefore), 2) your manager (along with you obviously) can further check with management and HR for the policy and collate necessary approvals 3) you can complete your work in given deadline, and leave with a clean plate 4) If it doesn’t work out, you can just start with your notice period

Also, be open with your manager. Everyone these days understand how sabbatical (long leaves) is important – it is difficult to convince management for long leaves, but hey, who would like to lose a star employee for good than giving a break for a few months to follow what her/his passion is. After all, you are allowed to take leave for your weddings and babies, then why not travel or study?

I literally made notes before opening up the conversation with my manager. Started saying how amazing is it to work with this company (at this point, she thought I am quitting), how happy I am to be able to get opportunities which are further enhancing my skills (blabber+ real time examples), and how I have always been daydreaming about taking long vacation to travel (and teach, and write and explore), and how once I come back, I will be able to channelize the positive energy and experience in enhancing the work environment (more blabber).

However lame it may sound, I practiced this in front of the mirror.

The results: I could convince her in one meeting. I was ready to quit, had it not worked out, maybe she sensed it, or maybe she saw a twinkle in my eyes when I explained, a conviction. I don’t know what it was, but it worked.

Be ready to put extra hours and proactiveness

Let’s be practical, your coworkers might be thinking “WTF” in their heads for your leave. But then, if you work extra hours (anyway, who leaves office on time), and be proactive (eager to learn, take on additional work, working weekends – you end up working on weekends anyway), It helps to shut them, at least shut the negativity around your leaves. You are following your passion and should not do so with any fucking negativity around. period.

Know where to keep quiet.

Your leaves are approved. Great. with/without pay. Brilliant. Now keep quiet, do not announce it to the world. I mean, what good is it going to bring you? I told a few of my close friends and surprisingly ended up in receiving “what? How did it happen, I am not even getting two days leave approved yaar.”


Better focus on making your travel Epic.

It’s not just because you are lucky, it is because, you have been extremely sincere about your plans and making them a reality.

Getting long leaves is not easy, but hey, had someone told you that they ordered pizza on phone 5 years back, would you have believed it?

Morale : This was my first step towards living the life I wanted to, or at least give it a shot at it once to see if that’s what I really wanted. It is never easy to leave the comfort of your job or the certain salary, but finally being able to answer that harrowing question “what it could be…” is liberating.

So, if you want to know “what it could really be..”, you should start planning from this exact moment. 

Sabbatical is a new corporate trend anyway.. 🙂

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