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Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

A Farewell To Agrawal's - In all Earnest

Today's paper read like the proverbial morning cuppa. Only this time, it was strong enough to jolt self out of years of blogging slumber.

Well, you know this has to special right?

Agrawal's Classes (Ideal for Scholars) is downing shutters.

Big deal you might say, if you're not from these parts. But for any Mumbai Science HSC student, there is a lot of context here. Especially if you were lucky enough to have got an admit into the hallowed portals of 1st floor, Harganga Mahal. Oh, in case I didn't make it really clear, you got an admit, you just didn't enrol by throwing money. Right. There was a CUT-OFF to get ADMISSION here. A 'COACHING CLASS'. (Show me any other place which had the cojones to do that, and I will convince you that Mumbai has gone to the dogs. Wait, do I need to...?)

The SSC Marksheet - Science+Maths total - would determine whether you were good enough to enrol here. I remember rushing for an Agrawal's admit immediately after my SSC results were out, and then worrying about which Junior college to go to. The joy on dear Mother's face was of Nirupa Roy proportions on learning that I had made the grade by one mark. "You have made us proud, and our struggle was worth it", et al.(If this sounds too melo, well, she had the habit of subtly pointing to the neon logo, whenever we would pass by Dadar TT, ever since I was one.)

All in all, a very smart business model by the man. If you take the cream of a city's students, and subject them to a really bitchin', bad-ass boot camp, you are bound to top the HSC lists too. Which really gives their proclamation that 'Top ranking students almost always come from Agrawal's classes' a very very smug sheen indeed.

By the time I was in, Agru's offered only vacation batches - where we had to wolf down the entire HSC syllabus, in a generous 3 month period. This led to discovering areas about self that one didn't ever know - prime fact being that the human brain is incapable of concentrating on Limits and Calculus after half an hour. This is where the seeds of that seminal life skill called Zoning Out were sown. Probably the single biggest thing I have taken away from Agru's and used in Life. Which is saying a lot.

Agru's weekly tests would be exercises in the worst kind of sadism possible, with questions airlifted from IIT JEE levels. There would be just one question related to what was taught in class, and all the rest were barbed wire underwear masquerading as 'Application of Knowledge'. Prime Example? Physics 2 - "Why do farmers plough their fields in winter, and not in summer?" (This still sticks, after more than a decade. The trauma.)

Held in IES Dadar, with a marriage unfurling outside your classroom, what with (Shrikhand+Puri+Batata Bhaji) fumes creeping up your nostrils, shehnai white noise, and you cooped in Fourth Standard benches, it was barely enough to just write your name and roll number without wincing, leave alone answer gems like the above.

To pile on the joyousness of it all, there was a mandatory half an hour minimum period to be spent in the classroom, irrespective of whether you wanted to write past the first question or not. Which in my case, was 11 times out of 10.

The sheer evil genius of this whole show, was manifested in the Report Cards. Which arrived by good old Indian Post, for your parents to admire and cherish. More so, when they had the highest scores, the average score, and your ward's score, all neatly laid out, with mug shots of the toppers. Was something I really looked forward to.

Agru's had a great selection of profs, ranging from the pits to absolute stud-boys, and everything in between. You couldn't get a better deal though, for the price you paid. Their entire fees would cover one subject's tuition fees for 'Private' (sic). Individual attention be damned. Some real dudes who taught there who still trigger unbearable nostalgia attacks are

  • Prof Babu ("LimtuponLimitSumofLimitCompleteIt!!!!!")
  • Prof Vengsarkar ("IIT Question... very popular question, give it some thought.")
  • Prof Awatramani ("You are my students... How CAN you fail?!")
  • Prof Kadali ("Hello Hello Alkane, Dihalo Alkane")
  • Prof Kulkarni ("In general...")
  • Prof Dhir Singh ("Yes please")

D Damodar functioned as the un-official canteen for Agru's, and a couple of samosas a day, served as the highlight, where you could commiserate with other wounded fellow men, marvelling at the pincer attacks of the subjects before and after.

Agru's peons were the friendliest people on earth, and had sweeping executive powers to make you stand outside as punishment, in case you were late for the lectures. Their word was final. Even friendlier were the sari shop owners just below the building, who would shoo us away like cattle, if we blocked their display windows while waiting to be let up. Evidently, they lost crores in five minutes. Heartwarming.

Agru's memories are something which will stay with me for a long time, and ironically outlive Agru's itself. It is sad to see them wind up, and it is like one part of your life which you thought would be there for ever. Fact of the matter is, that nothing ever is.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
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11:05 AM, January 02, 2011
Blogger GJ said...

Given a chance to relive the moment, would we enroll in Agrus?
Frankly, I don't know..

Now, with a red pen, write on the next page, 'beginning of part 2'.    

8:52 PM, January 02, 2011
Blogger Rahul_K said...

all those packed vacation lectures wreaked havoc for non-scholars like us who just got their foot in through the door...

I remember some of my classmates recounting tales of their parents warning them about the habits of some teachers (2 generations coached by the same professors !)    

11:36 PM, January 04, 2011
Anonymous Kay Kay said...

There was this particularly nasty Physics prof. who used to hold classes at 7 am and would revel in deriding Xaviers college. I forget his name.

A particularly vivid incident...
During winter, on one such morning, whilst we were sitting in his class, shivering.. all the while pretending to dutifully read the notes, he was pacing up and down the aisle.

As he passed a desk, he noticed that a student had underlined the 'Comfortably air-conditioned' logo and put a question mark facing it - this logo used to be printed on the cover of every class-sheet.

He simply picked up a pen and underlined the 'Ideal For Scholars' logo n put another question mark !!!    

11:39 PM, January 04, 2011
Anonymous Kay Kay said...

Welcome back.. Good beginning to the New year !!!    

2:29 AM, January 08, 2011
Blogger HP said...

Has Agrawal classes really closed down?


11:58 AM, February 17, 2011
Anonymous Riz Mithani said...

Don't know when you went to Agrus but in the early 80s there was Prof Pai who used to teach physics. He was also a Marathi stage actor and had the most dramatic way of teaching the laws of motion. He would start with 'take 2 bodies' and then hold 2 pieces of chalk and make them collide and then would add the duster to the mix to explain momentum and inertia. All in all he made it very entertaining!    

11:09 PM, April 09, 2011
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome :) just relived those painful yet fun memories    

4:01 PM, June 09, 2011
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome, painful memories; especially the tests at IES...so boring....also Ramu who used to check everyone's ID before entering the class and the crap rule of pasting stickers on your phone and depositing it in the office...    

7:22 PM, August 17, 2011
Blogger Gaurav Dadhich said...

Loved the post.And yes,I wanna be there again,given a chance. For the awesome Dheer Singh ji physics lectures...    

6:42 PM, February 14, 2012
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big fan of your writing...first came to your blog through GB's...your posts have just stopped coming....what happened    

1:12 PM, February 17, 2012
Blogger Tejanshu said...

[Intonement]A guttural, Incredible Hulk victory over Abomination roar. Why?? Pray listen, to this heart-rending story of mine, I stumbled upon this gold mine of a blog of yours and have been meaning to laud you since like a decade. But, yeh zaalim zamaanaa [read company firewall] wouldn't let us meet! Finally I vanquished the firewall by logging onto a VM and finally commenting!

Also if I may request you to cast a gracious glance on my nascent efforts. http://thepedestriansdiary.blogspot.in/2012/02/last-man-sitting.html    

2:44 PM, March 20, 2012
Blogger Vishius said...

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Thus I pass the Versatile Blogger award on to you.
Continue blogging and hopefully you find other bloggers to pass on this award.

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Keep Blogging    

2:41 AM, July 02, 2012
Blogger Chirag said...

Why did agarwal classes close down? Do you know?? Thanks    

11:07 PM, January 15, 2013
Blogger Jayesh Vira said...

Say what ever, but the year spent in Agrus still continues to be the most cherished for me.    

7:44 PM, January 16, 2013
Anonymous Bijal Sangoi said...

Agrus will remain a memorable experience for me. Not only did it give me an entry into the profession i chose..also taught me much more. n the sweet memories...reliving all that with your blog. love it!    

10:10 PM, April 02, 2013
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For any BARCite Argus was a life changing event ...stepping out of Anushaktinagar without any adult hand holiding. And the one thing i will always miss - Damodar KAchori wala ( major stress buster post tests :) )    

2:03 AM, June 28, 2014
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad to see Agrus close....

At the same time, it is important for us to realize that the branding of "scholars" and them being associated with careers in medicine and engineering needs to change fast. Free-thinking and flexibility in choosing one's vocation is very important at that age, and I think Agrus and the general drill in XII science is to groom future doctors and engineers. What about Pharmacists, public health professionals, lab scientists, health economists? What about other non-science professions? Are scholars not worthy of doing those professions? Or are those who take up such professions not "scholars"?

It's high time we woke up to a changing global environment, and encouraged our children to pursue their passions and explore the world outside of "PCM" and "PCMB".

7:49 PM, August 29, 2014
Blogger Jeffrey said...

Hi, Very well articulated. Made me really go back almost 20 years back when I was also a student there!!!    

10:45 AM, May 31, 2015
Anonymous saquib said...

really good article ...............feeling nostalgic..........i owe my success to agrawal classes..........    

11:10 PM, June 11, 2016
Blogger siddhi said...

Agrawal's...company of brilliant students and super-awesome professors! One of the best things in my academic career!    

11:10 PM, June 11, 2016
Blogger siddhi said...

This comment has been removed by the author.    

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