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Beyond School : Review

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Book Cover : In high Resolution :)




Book : Beyond School
Author :Chitra Anand
Category : Fiction
Published By : Leadstart Publishing, Frog Books
Year : 2014
Price : Rs 124
Pages : 201
Book Cover : Apt
ISBN -10: 9383562404
ISBN-13: 978-9383562404

Ratings : 4/5

From a plethora of books, there are only a handful few which grips us, right from the first paragraph.

'Beyond School' does this effortlessly. In fact, 'Effortless' is the word synonymous for it but considering that the author might have issues over the word which claim(though it does not) her hard efforts to be effortless, spontaneous seems better :)

The author deserves accolades for her style of spontaneous and natural writing.
She not only showcases the life of her protagonist Shail - a 17 years old but, of each and every character in the book. She had made a mere glimpse into their lives far richer than verbose chapters after chapters churned out by her contemporaries. A remarkable feat.

THE BLURB -
 Beyond School centres upon the weeks leading up to 17 year-old Shail's final board exams, as his world becomes a pressure cooker and the weight of exams sends him fleeing  rebelliously in the other direction.
Along with Shail's journey from boyhood to manhood, beyond School vividly weaves between the narratives if four main characters,seamlessly uniting the past and the present of Shail and his mentor Gladys, in a story that is honest, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately incredibly human.

MY REVIEW
I was not exactly raring to read about a 17 years old's secret, conflict, girlfriend stress, a desire to be in Manchester United... and all that jazz. But, the first chapter caught me off- guard. It was different, deep and sets the tone for the rest of the book. 
It made the reader realise that 'Beyond School' is going to be an emotional and understanding journey with less words and more undercurrents.

In a book divided into 36 chapters and of 200 pages, the author has dealt with almost every issue under the sun from Board exams - a BIG thing in an average Indian kid's life, 
the girl-friend - the indispensable yet most suppressed topic in the life of the same person,
the issue of mobile phones and gadget usage , 
the lack of communication between child and parents,
the IMPORTANCE and role of a mentor teacher
changing social norms,
generation gap,
need of understanding by parents 
The anxieties of parents, the pressures of teens and many more topics...

THE WRITING STYLE
Is breezy and seamless as the story moves from one character to another.The writing is simple, spontaneous, easy to read yet not colloquial which makes it a better.

CHARACTERS
needs special mention as there are lots of them considering the page-count! And yet, the author managed to make them so honest, in-depth versions of them, with each having a story of his/her own which is told, without your even realising it. 

 Very cunningly the reader is dragged into their lives on pretext of  chapters named Ma, Dad,Father Spy... so  you feel as if you are reading about Shail's Ma, Shail's dad while in reality, you are getting the slice of life from Urmila and Sushil Abhyankar's life!
The book captures the contradictions of teen-student's life in a nutshell.

I LIKED-
One - Its a book written with sensitivity ... Every word exudes sensitivity, softness,towards children, conflicts,desires,the fragility of life,dreams and relationships.
Second - It deals with the psychological aspect of every action with utmost clarity and stresses upon not to be judgemental.
Third- Urmila's reaction and subsequent decision regarding messages with sexual overtones,between Shail and Shruti. 
Fourth - Shail realises Aaron's Dad loved him - it was just a different way. 
AND -
Glady's Father. A character who stood out shining amid other grey and white ones. A worker, operating gear-making machines at Premier Automobiles for livelihood, who wanted to name her daughter Nargis, he was father-genius, father-brave and father-best a blessing! He is immortalized here. Not only Glady's, he is my HERO too.

VERDICT
Its a MUST READ book for parents and children ALIKE ...which makes it for ALL.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chitra Anand was born in Mumbai. She is a postgraduate in Physics with an Education degree and Beyond School is her first novel inspired by her journey as an educator. To know more about her visit her SITE

PS.sst On page 14, Shail's mother is introduced as 'dark but beautiful' which I thought ought to be 'dark and beautiful' and as the author was introducing her to the readers,I could not see it as a character's impression. Though its fine, still I mulled over it ..


Copies Available at all online stores:



Know More Inside Stories, Connect with The Author:
Twitter: @chtranand

Read the book? Write a review on Goodreads:


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तारे : हाइकु

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                                               पत्तों पे ओस
                                              रात  के आँचल से
                                              छिटके  तारे


                                                                                                                           Twinkling crystal  stars
                                            from dark robe of the night sky
                                            strewn dewdrops on grass 




Tears :Haiku

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                                             round cascading pearls 
                                            liberate calm heal the soul
                                             fervent hot springs gush

उदास मन : Hindi Haiku

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            उदास मन 
                                                           चौखटे में जड़ा है 
                                                             चटका दर्पण 

Loosely translated as -                                                                                                                                      Glum, desolate  heart 
                                                           exquisitely framed in gold 
                                                          cracked, splintered mirror


Irony : Haiku

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ManiKarnika Ghat Varanasi : Here


                                                  Flames of pyre, Ablaze

                                                  spurting grief, sorrow, anguish 
                                                  It dawns am Alive.


Note : Above haiku got made out of a comment by my fellow Blogger friend Ravish Mani

Scent of Spring : Haiku


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                                       Like wisps of incense
                                       immerses and enthrals the soul
                                       scent of spring, vinous

(Inspired by Scattered Thoughts and Chevrefuille's Haiku-blog)

The Knell : Haiku


IndiBlogger BadgeI was introduced to Haiku in late 90s,1996 to be exact.One of my mother's student-turned-colleague used to write these  occasionally for the school/college magazine. I was not impressed as, for me, those lacked soul. After reading Haiku here at blog-o-sphere by KristjaanManiparna, and Nimi's I was proved wrong. Then I went on to read the great haiku poets Masoka Shiki, Basho, Busan , Issa, Ryokon ... 
Now,I know that, the lacking was perhaps, in the writer (my humble apologies)or more probably, in my interpretation and understanding but not in the form.

 I can see that much can be expressed in its few words.In-fact the limit provides a challenge as to play with words, to keep its soul and beauty alive emerging thus, as a beautiful token of feelings. Its a Japanese from of verse where 

Haiku makes the mental image born out of few lines brilliant in contrast to the restraint of words.

Hoping that the aforementioned person will not see this and the more yet to come.. er... pour.Here goes the first one -



                                                       
                                                              


                                               raging wind, moans slow
                                              howls and whirls in biting cold 
                                              Ah! the knell of death  
                       
(Inspired by Scattered Thoughts and Chevrefuille's Haiku-blog)

An AWARD And An Open LETTER

IndiBlogger BadgeWhat better way to resume blogging (am on and off these days) then receiving an award from a dear friend.Thanks a million Shweta Dave for your affection... 

Shweta is an extremely talented writer of subtle short stories, informative travel pieces and poignant poetry. She is at complete ease in English and Hindi both and to gauge the depth of her writing you MUST read this one- 'The  Infinite Wait'  
She had just moved-on to her own site, a beautiful and sunny place with a soft zephyr to blow away the blue clouds of mine... :)


Now the rules -
  1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you. Done
  2. List the Rules and Display the award. Done
  3. Share 7 facts about yourself
Considering fact are the 'things which are known or proven to be true' I present 7 universal truths about myself (drum-roll)-

1. I am lazy... that's why,I work really hard and constantly to avoid being so. hence no afternoon siestas for me as momentary  rest may transcend into a week's without my even noticing it.

2. Though I am lazy, lack of work leaves me in doldrums.

3. I love everything related to art,culture,written words,             architecture,sculpting,weaving,sewing and jewellery making irrespective of styles and popularity           

4.  I adore nature in its all forms.

5.  I perform best under pressure. And performance  includes cooking. 

6.  I can be so happy as to count it as bliss OR abysmally sad ... either the genius or a tube light, an eloquent speaker or a shy crab unable to even manage a decent Hello!

7. Still, overall and essentially,  I love being alive .

                                                 ******
Now its time to forward this gesture to those bloggers who have inspired me in one way or other-
(Not in any order)

Saru Singhal-Words
Barbara Fischer-March House Blog
Datta Ghosh-what are we
Vinay Naagraju-  Inspire 99
Indrani - I Share
Teny WITH his Vampire Bat and Owl - Movies of the Soul
Shashi Nayagam -Sewing with Moonbeams
Vidhya - Paint My World
Anupam Patra- Reflections

                                                                     ********

An Open and somewhat vague Letter to My Nominees

Dear Nominees,

When I joined the blogging community,I wanted to be connected but not as a compulsion, to be read but not as an obligation.
 And I practice the same as once when I connect the net, I pick one friend at a time and go through ALL the posts of the person irrespective of what's his/her trending hot post... it gives me a better insight into their heart and mind and I feel connected and inspired in the TRUEST sense of the word..

May be this way of mine, made me a bit too inspired by too many and too trifle a things.... but this letter here is to say that this little piece which I am passing on to you is the embodiment of my sincerest gratitude and humble feelings to all of you who have helped me cheering up one day,awestruck by your brilliance the other and shaking me up from my comfort zone on the third ......

You can see that I am a blogger who is irregularly regular ... a free bird which insist for a cage .......... and can be best defined as that small potted (flowering) plant,you have in your balcony -'green' yet blooming, living yet rooted, movable yet potted ......  I am something always growing, taking in sun, rain and air... who wants to travel the world, experience different weathers from breezy to sunny and calm to fierce, Autumn and Spring, hail-storm and hot desert winds....  but all the time rooted in the familiar soil needing nurturing and care.

This may explain my flights of fancy which I embroil on after reading your awesome posts while I remain rooted, all the time, in the reality of my own sweet lil world.

I felt with Mridula and Arti's travels,and made resolutions with Vinay, tried Haikus (disastrously) reading Maniparna's ,DIY decor with Vidhya and quivered with writings of Saru n Shweta
Found resonance with Datta's thoughts and Nagini's reading shelf, Amit and Indrani's passion for clicking,Teny's love of movies, Anupam's reflections,the passion Shashi finds in making dolls and the bliss of Barbara in her awesome job... not to forget the refreshing walks I embarked on with Ruchi.

You ALL have inspired me by a single expression or a post, an image or a caption,by your craft or your thought process or simply by your sheer persistence,grit and will power at the things you love.....

Hence I am forwarding this to you all irrespective of your award policies, our mutual comment love and number of visits. Because when I say You Are inspiring to Me, I mean it .
                                                   Yours Truly
                                                            Aww..  you know me :P                                

SUSPECT : Review


Book :     SUSPECT
Author :   Micheal Robotham
Genre :     Detective Fiction
Publishers :Doublesday
Year :         2005
Book Cover : Insipid(This one )
Rating:      4/5
The book is not a Crime Classic but is pleasingly different from its contemporaries. While sharing many common threads with other contemporary crime fictions (murders can't be done much differently eh!) it offers an interesting scenario with a finely etched cast of characters and nuanced narration of their behaviour. 
After-all ,due to its popularity,it had to be translated in 22 languages soon after its publication.
Mercifully, the people in the book act and speak responsibly according to their parts and do not provide unbelievably out-of-character sort of jolts of shock for the sake of twists,turns and thrills.
And despite having many predictable incidents one is not bored as the book is heavily laden with subtle use of wit and wit! 

The narration at times,made me feel as if I am reading my own experience ... If I went through all this and had to write about it, it would have been in a similar way.
I hated this cover
PLOT
Professor Joseph O'Loughlin is a clinical psychologist who is charged for the murder of his former patient ..... a nurse.He  was out on lack of evidence but is the prime suspect.While he is dealing with his own ethical and personal demons, another murder took place, again victimising him but this time, with concrete evidence. Even his alibi is dead.
He had  limited time with almost zero number of people to help and trust...... to unearth this seemingly motive-less mad conspiracy.... before the real killer strikes much near... his home!

Good Points 
 From  first line, first word, first page you are sure about him being a harmless man.
Second, the more you are sure of his innocence, more you are convinced that he will be the suspect. 
Three, you know he will manage to prove him innocent.
This one I found 
better..
Yet,
yet you  are driven into it with him as to HOW ?How he will do it. It becomes your quest, your search. How? And you wonder-
If not me then WHO?
If I am so deep in muck ... means I am being set up... then WHY?
 You are so engrossed you forgets its him and you searches for that killer to get back your life, your peaceful life back in your lovely abode.

WRITING STYLE
I have wrote these words many times and am again maintaining that -
The beauty of a book lies in its writing.
Yes, story, plot, message,twists are integral but writing is what makes the difference.

Here,it is well worded,well written and well ...natural.
In the darkest of moments it never lost its witty spark .It provided an honest narration with real dangers and real people.  
The family, spouse,children,friends,parents,childhood... every detail of the protagonist's life is made crystal clear in few paragraphs and with the emotional connect.It's an ability par excellence.

 
This Dutch cover is also good.
This scene might be when
 Joe visits his home  at stealth..
 
 It reminded me of a Johnny Depp  movie 'Nick Of Time' in the sense that the  protagonist there was also an ordinary  common man without super human strength  or ammunition who, when got stuck in  uncommon situations, dealt with them to  the best of his abilities and emerged safe  and victorious.

THE Umms..
Of course, like any Hollywood/Indian mainstream movie it has certain convenient co-incidences like the school secretary gave full information with minimum apprehension or that Professor Loughlin managed to dodge police at his parent's home BUT, on danger of repeating myself- if written nicely, one can go easy on co-incidences and miracles. After all, they do occur - unexpectedly.That's why they are called co-incidences and miracles !

VERDICT
Intelligent, gripping and taut ,go for it if you like Drama in Real Life and if you don't ,then definitely go for it to get the feel! 
Reviews on
GoodReads |Amazon 
ABOUT THE WRITER
Micheal Robotham is an International Crime Fiction Writer from Australia who started off as a newspaper reporter and rose to fame from his first novel-The Suspect. 
After it, he wrote nine more novels all of which are bestsellers. He is the winner of many prestigious awards and lives in Australia with his family and is a full time writer. 
You can be in touch with him at his official website here.
  You can Buy the Book  
Here at IndieBound 
Here at Amazon 
More Covers
Fair -
The Hungary Cover
BEST ONE -
TheTurkish Cover
For me the Turkish Cover is the best. It has the required momentum, the running silhouette accentuated by the blue and white suggest fear, desperation,thrill and the light at the end of the tunnel indicates ultimate victory.
Several other covers of French, Russian, Swedish, Czech and Croatian versions are also available Here but I have posted those which I thought to be  good .

Sentiments of a Staff-Room Table

I am aware many of my fellow bloggers may not be able to read this post (my 200th post) still, keeping conscience over prudence,I am presenting it from the pages of our college magazine 2010,   verbatim.
 It was written as a farewell remembrance to the six exquisite gems of our college... retiring together. These were teachers ,who were synonymous with the ethos, principles and prestige of the institution. 
Incidentally,these six always sat together in the staff-room, around a hard and low table-cum-cot made of wood. Initially, the table was uncomfortable for them but gradually, mutual adaptation occurred and despite many other upgradations, somehow, the low-table remained unchanged for Forty Years ! 

With the passage of time these efficient ladies, too engrossed in their lectures and life,became comfortable to its low 'height' and its spacious vast spread. So much so that the chai-waale bhaiyya will call "Haan jee, takhat walon ki chai kahan rakhni hai?" 
The clerks will direct the helper as " jaao, ye circular takhat waalon ko de do "
They have become Takhat waale! as in Takht-e-Taus
(In case you are able to read , I sincerely hopes you like it ...)

जब भी कभी इस विद्यालय की चर्चा चलती है, तो स्मृति गह्वर  में से  अनेक स्मृतियों के मध्य एक ऐसा चित्र उभरता है जो है एक - तखत का - - एक पुराने, साधारण लकड़ी के फट्टों को जोड़ कर बनाये गए तखत का।

वस्तुतः ये इस प्रकार के दो तखत थे जिन्हे मिलाकर एक कामचलाऊ मेज़ की  रूप दे दिया गया था  कि गंभीर, गरिमामयी शिक्षिकाएँ  चहुँ  ओर से इसे घेर कर अपना कार्य कर सकें।  पर इस कामचलाऊ ने कैसा-कैसा काम चलाया ये तो विरले ही जानते हैं। 
स्वयं इस तख़्त  के शब्दों  में --

" स्टाफ़ रूम में  लौह अल्मारियों  के आने से पूर्व मैं अकेला ही हुआ करता था.शुभ प्रभात बेला से ही चिल्ल्पों  प्रारम्भ हो जाती थी।
 मैं बीसियों सुघड़ शिक्षिकाओं  के रजिस्टरों ,कापियों-किताब आदि की दैनिक पटकाई  के मधुर  शब्द  संगीत का प्रति घंटे आस्वादन करता और रजिस्टरों,डस्टरों आदि से झड़ती चॉक धूल के मनोहारी गुबार से मेरा मुखारविंद प्रातः काल ही सुशोभित हो जाया  करता। 

जब सभी शिक्षिकाएं एक-एक करके (द्वार छोटा होने के कारण ) अपनी-अपनी कक्षाओं में चली जाती तब विशाल जंगले में से छन-छन आती सुनहली धूप की किरणे  मुझ पर बिछी चॉक  धूल के कणो से भांति -भांति का खिलवाड़ कर भौतिकी विभाग के प्रकाश अपसारण  आदि नियमों का पालन करते हुए मन-मोहक माया चित्र बनाती। 

इसी  बीच यदि कोई मॉनिटर छात्रा किसी  अतिव्यस्त शिक्षिका का भूला हुआ रजिस्टर बड़ी निर्ममता से घसीट  लेती, तो मेरा सौंदर्य बिखर जाता और किसी अन्य शिक्षिका की डीप फ्रीज करी वॉटर बॉटल के ऊपर से गिरते शीत वाष्प जल बिंदुओं  घुलकर ऐसा बहता कि महादेवी की पीड़ा प्रसाद के आँसू बन साकार हो उठती। 

 फिर,कुछ देर बाद प्रारम्भ हो जाता सु-स्वादु लज़्ज़तदार व्यंजनों से ठसे स्टील के नाश्तेदानों के खुलने  सिलसिला और मैं उस लज़ीज़ खाने की सुगंध में आकंठ डूब जाता और यदि कभी कुछ बिखर गया, तो पायों तक!

प्याज के परांठे , हरी मिर्च की कतरने, सिरके में ओत -प्रोत मूली के चंदे……… 

टिफिनो,बोतलों,रजिस्टरों के बोझ के अलावा मैं इनके नाना प्रकार के  चौरस ,आयत,तितलीनुमा,सुन्दर या कम-सुन्दर सभी तरह के बैगों को भी वहन करता और मेरी भलमनसाहत तो देखिये, कि 5 घंटे के लिए ये मुझ पर अपना पूरा घर-संसार बसा लेती और मैं मूक प्रसन्नता व्यक्त करता हुआ सब वहां-सहन करता।
उफ़! तक नहीं करता। 

कभी अपनी  किताबें ,बैग,बोतलें,डिब्बे,एक-दूजे के लिए  लायी गयी भेंट ,उपहार ,लड्डू,पान,सुपारी,मेवा,मिठाई आदि मुझ पर चढ़ाती,तो कभी शॉर्टकट मार कर खुद चढ़  जातीं और तो और अपने नौनिहालों को भी चढ़ा देतीं। इतना ही नहीं, इनके नन्हे शिशुओं को खुद पर सुलाना,बॉटल से दूध पीते  शिशु के पैरों की मधुर थाप खुद पर पड़ते हुए सुनना, उनके नन्हे पैरों की साइकल  से  पिटना आदि ऐसे अनेक   सद्कार्य हैं जो A.K.P.Inter College के स्टाफ रूम का तख़्त बन कर मैंने सम्पन्न कराएं हैं।  


 इस सबका एक सुनहरा पक्ष यह भी है  कि इनके साथ प्रतिदिन के ५ घंटे बिता मैं जड़-जंगम भी कूपमंडूक न रह सका। मैं गणमान्य अथितियों के वक्तव्यों,अपनी शिक्षिकाओं के ओजस्वी  भाषणों , मर्म-स्पर्शी कवितायों व् विचारशील गोष्ठियों का श्रोता बना हूँ। 

यदि पायों से जड़ें निकल सकती तो मैं दिखलाता कि इनके संसर्ग में मैं कितना कुसुमित व् पल्लवित हुआ हूँ। 

रोचक,रोमांचक,मार्मिक,अर्थपूर्ण,हास्यपूर्ण संसार में घटने वाली समस्त घटनाक्रमों का ज्ञान देने वाली ये शिक्षिकाएं मेरा BBC Channel हैं। 

साहित्यिक,दार्शनिक,वैज्ञानिक व् सांस्कृतिक , जीवन का ऐसा कोई पक्ष नहीं है जिसकी सुगठित , सुन्दर व् स्वस्थ चर्चा को मैंने सुना  ना हो।
 व्यक्तिगत जीवन की कठिनायों से लेकर कार्यक्षेत्र की चुनौतियों का डटकर मुक़ाबला करने की  कला  को भी मैंने इनसे उसी तरह आत्मसात  कर लिया है जैसे की मैं भूलवश  गिरी  अचार की फाँक के तीखे स्वाद को कर लेता हूँ।
उनका तीखापन मुझे अभी तक याद है.……… 

 तीखेपन की तो वैसे भी शिक्षिकाओं में कमी नहीं होती और मेरे चारों ऒर वाली तो, जैसे हरपल मोर्चाबद्ध रहती थीं। 
घर हो या विद्यालय, जीवन के प्रत्येक क्षेत्र में अनुशासित, ईमानदार, कर्तव्यनिष्ठ व् तत्पर।  
अतः मुझे प्रसन्नता  है कि ऐसी संगिनियों के साथ मैंने जीवन के इतने  वर्ष  व्यतीत किये।  

ऐसी संगिनियाँ ,जिन्होंने मुझे ऊन के गोलों और बुनाई के नमूनों से दूर रखा,जब भी इनकी बातें  सुनी ,आगे बढ़ने ,कठिनाइयों से जूझने  व् सत्य  पर टिके रहने की ही  प्रेरणा मिली। संभवतः इसीलिए आज तक  यहाँ पर टिका हुआ हूँ, कि जब भी मन की कोई कील उखड़ी , चट से इनमे से किसी चतुरा ने अंदर ठोंक दी। 

उसी तत्परता व् स्नेह से जिससे ये अपने जीवन की  इधर-उधर निकली कीलों को ठोकती आयीं हैं। कठिन परिस्थितियां, कठिन बच्चे, उनसे भी ज़्यादा कठिन नाती,पोते, धेवते, नातेदारों ........... सभी को प्यार से,फटकार से आवश्यकतानुसार ठोकतीं आयीं हैं. 

ये साधारण दिखने वालीं मेरी शिक्षिकाएं अत्यंत साहसवाली, ओजपूर्ण, कर्मठ महिलाएं हैं। 
 ईर्ष्याखोरों द्वारा  दी गयी प्रत्येक कठिनता को सरल बना लेने व ईश्वर-प्रदत्त  दुरूहता को भी सहज स्वीकार करने  क्षमता रखने वाली मेरी ये कार्यक्षेत्र की साथिनें निश्चय ही असाधारण हैं. 

अब, जब मेरे पास इनकी पुरानी साड़ियों की गमक़ नहीं होगी अपितु  नयी साड़ियों की सरसराहट होगी, तो मैं, जो इनके जुमलों व सुलझे हुए निर्णयों का मूक-दर्शक, श्रोता एवं सहभागी भी हूँ, यह आशा करूंगा कि आने वाली साथिनों के लिए मैं मात्र एक लकड़ी का तख़्त यो मेज़ ना रह कर सिंघासन-बत्तीसी बन पाऊँ। तभी मेरा-इनका साहचर्य सफल होगा। 
कुछ ऐसे ही हैं मेरी ये विलक्षण संगिनियां। 

"चिर मोद  का अवसर रहे 
मानस से बनूँ विनीत 
सर्वत्र में विचरे रमा 
ज्ञान कुसुमों का हो आशीष  
शशि आभा सा दीपित होऊं  
कर्तव्य के गाऊँ गीत 
मानस-चित्रों को निखराऊँ  
प्रतिबिंबित हो निज प्रीत 
                       यही मेरी आशा है 
                       यही अभिलाषा है।
                                              With love n reverence-
                                                      From the Takht of Staff-room....

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