Lucknowi kebab and more…
Lead Assessor, Kalpesh, shares his experience of reviewing a school in Lucknow
There was so much to look forward to visiting the amazing city of Nawabs. Yes, this time work took me to Lucknow, the place you will not want to miss travelling to.
My excitement was huge not only because of the different ways the city can meet your needs and interests but also because I was eager to be on the review team for schools which I knew would provide a different challenge altogether. After all, I had never been to a school with around 5000 students and with so many good practices, though I had been to more than 35 schools across India including some affordable private schools as well as some high-end schools.
We had been put up in the school’s guest house which was very comfortable and most of our time on the first 3 days was taken up by our work at the school and planning in the evenings. I did enjoy my daily runs in the evening through the lanes of the city and the highways! I was glad we weren’t in the heart of the old city where the regular cycle-rickshaws, electric-rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, cyclists and two-wheeler owners would have made my runs into a nightmare obstacle course!
As expected, reviewing the school was a challenge and I learned a lot by the end of the 4th day. It is a big task to understand the school’s systems for tracking how their provision is impacting each and every student. The school that we were in, had extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, exposure to students to people from other countries and a good track record of students’ performance in board exams. The intense conversations with the school’s stakeholders led to immense learning, and the team was tired and hungry.
So our pit stop at Hazratganj in search of Lucknowi chikan and some delicious food provided the right fuel! We went to Moti Mahal as suggested by some members at the school and we couldn’t help ordering more than necessary chaat and sweets over there, especially the famous rabri. What a treat it was! We also went to the oldest branch of Tunday Kababi in Aminabad and can say without doubt that we have evidence that this 100 year old shop still makes the most delicious kababs!
The second school was similar to the first one and yet, again, a different challenge. It had similar practices but space was a challenge for this school. It was amazing to understand how the school was trying to use the space as efficiently as it could. It had an Astroturf on the terrace of the building to ensure students had some space to play.The discussion with school teams was huge learning for me personally. It takes time for the school members to get on the same page as us and speeding up the process for them is something I got to think about.
This time, we went to Royal cafe in Hazratganj to celebrate our learning and the chaat over there was something which I can close my eyes and relish even now. On my second last day in Lucknow, I went to Dastarkhwan, which is famous for its non-veg food and then to Bara Imambara built by Asaf-ud-Daula in 1784. I loved the Rumi gate named after the famous 13th century Sufi poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. It was such an enriching experience.
I finally bought an exquisite chikan saree for my mother before heading back to Mumbai, for my next assignment.