The Pincer Movement, says Wikipedia, is a basic element of military strategy which has been used, to some extent, in nearly every war. Whether by design or by coincidence, Gitanjali School's locations doubly envelop the Hyderabad Public School. Fitting, since it is the HPS that Gita Karan left to start Gitanjali School in 1985.
The name is an inspired choice. Remember that this is the poem that led Yeats to talk of the subtlety of rhythm, of untranslatable delicacies of colour. The Primary School Building seems, then, a strange location to house this school. It lies cheek-by-jowl with a rambunctious apartment building, literally a stone's throw from the Begumpet Railway Station. It has the disadvantage of location, the fetters of choked space, and the occluded and noxious Nala that carries fetid effluents to slowly poison the Hussain Sagar, to contend with. The building itself is functional rather than poetic, as is the other, the Senior School, that's in Mayuri Marg - dead opposite the HPS' Gate.
But for every poem in form you can find a poem in function. Gitanjali, despite these disadvantages in form, has functioned effectively for 20 years now. Effectively enough to have provided a welcome alternative for the city's bourgeois. Affiliated to the ICSE Board, Gitanjali School has built a formidable corps of teachers. Capable, no-nonsense, result-oriented, and benevolent martinets.
The student body is well-formed, too. Uniformed kids are encouraged to interact and compete on modern-day adaptations of the playing fields of Eton. They have a wide range of hobbies to choose from, while parents can draw comfort in the reasonable fees - Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 15,000 per year.
Second generation Hyderabadis aver that the school is better than the St. Ann's
/ HPS / other that they went through. Admission is probably as hard, but it's better in most other respects. The teachers are warmer. The management is more accessible. The kids have more fun. The teaching methods are better. The ...yes, it is decidedly better.
But the same second generation Hyderabadis also harbor lingering doubts. Will the expansion of Gitanjali School reduce the attention the management pays to this one? Are the +2 teachers capable of getting our kids to one of the educational El Dorados?
The first of these worries seems unjustified. The school is expanding, though diversifying may be more the mot juste
. The new schools are entirely different, except that they share the same Founder Principal. However, there's no sign of slacking off at Gitanjali. Shoulders are still hard at the wheel, noses firmly held to the grindstone.
The school has recently added a +2, allowing children to take the ISC Board exams. The jury's still out on its pertinence, though that's not Gitanjali's fault. The fault lies in the same psyche that leads parents to voice, if sotto voce
, the second doubt: Excuse me, Mister, is this the road to the Shangri La?
It's strange, even funny in a Mark Twain sort of way, how 7 years can change parents' perceptions of the schooling needs of kids.
It's probably the benevolence of Gitanjali's teachers that stirs middle-class parents to wonder whether they should, in fact, turn to more rigid boot-camps to prepare their kids for the journey beyond childhood. This is the sort of doubt that has built the coaching class to a multi-crore business. And it's certainly to Gitanjali's credit that it has maintained an even keel, holding on to what it has demonstrated is a successful model.
Not quite an alternate school, and a shade removed from the conventional schools, Gitanjali has built a firm reputation for itself.