After the first batch, I was to be allocated another center. I knew the three failures in my first batch would have a negative impact on my reputation even before I had formed one.
Out institute meanwhile started a new center in Mazagaon near the Sales tax office there. It was the first center where the students would come to us. Our rivals, a reputed institute themselves had a center just next to the office. The Institute was managed by her and had just one faculty, AD who lived quite close by.
The number of batches had increased and even though the number of students had not increased, AD had to stay a lot more in the office because he had to take all the batches in the institute. My institute director assigned me to the center. Now Mazagaon is harbor line in the Mumbai local railway network. I stay in the western railways network which just meant that I had to change two trains and reach the center, a journey that could take anywhere between 90 minutes to 120 minutes. I later found out that this was much shorter distance even with the change of trains.
I thought I was assigned the center because of my previous batch result. AD was in fact very happy as he and I were quite comfortable with each other. In a group of 30 teachers, not all were in good terms with each other. I talked to my director and asked him to assign me another center but he asked me to give it a try. I reluctantly accepted.
At the same time Chetan, Rahul and I (wasn’t that the name of the Asha Bhosale album) and a couple of my friends started a company. A company in the sense of a real business entity. Infosys was just becoming the darling of the market and the way they started, we were clearly inspired. So here I was teaching in the morning and then in the evening working for our company. One paid me decently and the other took my savings. The company dealt in assembled computers and a little bit of software. It was not much but we worked a lot. We had registered the company and kept proper accounts.
We worked in the weekends and attended calls for our company in the evenings. We even took a office and started a cyber cafe. When it ended almost a year later, we were not the same people anymore. We had been hurt and we had been bruised. The relationship between the friends went through a dramatic change. The closing of the company was one of the worst time of my life. Some day I will bury that ghost too
Coming back to the center in Mazagaon, it was not doing well. She was the center-in-charge cum marketing person cum administrator cum accountant and a lot more. She single handed managed the center and the teachers. AD hated her guts and her way of working. He was used to work in a different manner and she would be fighting to run it her way which she considered the proper way. She was happy to take ideas from us but she had a short temper.
She managed to find a considerable big batch for both of us. The center in the middle of a bustling city would be awfully quite. It was in an industrial area and the chances of we attracting any students in spite of our rivals there was quite difficult. The place was owned by the owner of the institute and was unused for a long time. We had a lot of time to break-even.
I had learnt a lot from my first batch. I had learnt that not every body would be keen to learn computers. Not everybody would be clever. Some wanted to genuinely learn computers and some just wanted to do it because it was made compulsory. We had the task to make it more interesting for them.
The most important aim was to help them clear the exams, the sole objective for which they had started the course. The exams were not difficult because they were multiple choice questions. Each question had four choices. Although the answers were easy to figure out, it was sometimes confusing for the student. I along with her started preparing question bank for the students.
We had a look in the past papers and made a start. Our students also brought books from their colleagues who went to the rival institute. We took the example from them and added to the question bank. I had two lecture, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and lots of free time in between. As we did not have Internet, the only option I had was to keep on adding to the question bank
At one time, I became so obsessed with the question bank that I was thinking of confusing the students with the questions. I changed the structure of the questions and made different choices more confusing and more complicated. The idea was to prepare them for the worst. After each module we would give them question bank for that module. The students also challenged the questions and together we continued adding more and more questions. After three batches, our center was providing question banks to other student.
The question bank was small during the first batch but we still made students practice and learn all the commands of the modules. I did not want to take chances. After three months, our center had a 100% result. The preparation and the efforts we took had paid off in more than one way. Students who passed out advertised our center and even though it took 15 minutes to come to our center, our student’s strength doubled in the next batch.
Our center would recover its cost in the second batch itself
To be Continued…………