Shadowbrook in Capitola - Restaurant review

So, it has been ages since I wrote here, though I have been writing often over at the main blog - chitra-aiyer.com . I have wanted to write about this restaurant for a while now - have managed to put it off till now.

This was in 2001 and in Bay Area, California; it was my husband’s birthday. I wanted to take him some place nice; to a place that was a bit out and that which wasnt in our usual route. I asked my American boss at work who had been in the Bay Area for a while for suggestions. He suggested a couple of them and one was the Shadowbrook restaurant in the city of Capitola. He described the place to me and it sounded very nice. So, off we went, in the evening towards Capitola. I had the directions, and I asked the husband to drive. I said, ‘know not the destination, simply enjoy the journey’. :)

Anyway, we arrived and parked a street away and walked up to the restaurant. The Sun had already set and it was dark. We arrived at the entrance and from then on, till the time we were out, the experience was just fantabulous. This place has been beautifully and tastefully envisioned and designed. In fact, the restaurant is some feet below and they take you in a beautiful cable car from the gate! The cable car was a complete surprise to us and we were completely taken in.

The restaurant has a charming old world setting, overlooking Soquel creek. It was started in 1947 and is famous for “Romance in Dining.” There are many dining areas and each has a character of its own. Looking up the pics on their website and calling ahead for reservation is much recommended. The waiting area also has entertainment.

Chitra Aiyer - Shadowbroook in Capitola

Pic from the restaurant’s website

We are vegetarians and had a limited menu there; but we personalized what we wanted. Everything about that evening was perfect - food, ambiance, service. After the first time, we went there many times, but every-time it was for dinner. So, we have never really seen the place during the day and apparently it is beautiful with lovely views.

This has by far been one of the most romantic places I have been to for dinner. If you are in the Bay Area or Santa Cruz County or are visiting, definitely pay Shadowbroook a visit. Do come back and tell us how it was. Or if you have already been to the Shadowbrook, please share your experience.

Look up Shadowbrook’s awards and accolades on their website.

ADDRESS:
Capitola and Wharf Roads, (P.O. Box 65) Capitola-by-the-Sea, CA 95010.

It is that time of the year …

… when parents are gearing up for school admissions. Yes, Oct is around the time when application forms are given out at schools. I know of parents who start calling up school front-desks as early as Aug to find out when application forms are given out. It is not because they are being super cautious, but because sometimes the more sought after schools give out forms early and you may not really get to know. This year however, I haven’t heard of any schools that have given out forms as yet. A lot of them maybe giving them out after the Navarathri vacations.

If you are a parent who is keen on a popular school, it is best to admit your child at the Montessori 1 level or at the lower Kindergarten level. Only because, if your child gets into the school of your choice at this stage, he/she/you are spared of the hassle of getting into a school when the child is older. For example, getting a seat into any sought after school for lets say, the 2nd std isn’t easy. It isn’t easy for any class from 1st std onwards. Very likely, the child has to qualify to write a test, then write it, and then make it to the cut off. All of which is a bit much on everybody concerned.

How does anybody go about figuring out the “right” school for their young child? This is probably one of the trickiest things to figure out, especially since your  precious child gives you very little clue about his or her own choice of school at 3-4 yrs of age. I am constantly running into parents of the very young and the foremost topic of discussion is deciding on schools and getting school admissions. I have come to realise what a huge stress factor this one topic is amongst parents.

This brings me to analyze what the factors were for my husband and me when we went about school admissions for our older one in the last quarter of 06. She started lower Kindergarten in Jun 07.The younger one goes to Montessori in the same school now.

  1. Students to teacher ratio. I was hoping for anywhere b/n 15 to 20 with the no. of children less than 30 is a kindergarten class. I was also hoping for the no. of children to be around 30 in higher classes as well. Did not want the children to be sitting in classes that had 50+ students that the schools I went to had.
  2. Commute distance and time. I was calculating for the distance and time from where we are likely to be for most part of their school years and looked at schools in that area. This of course, wasn’t too near my own parents’ house, which is the neighborhood we were living in for the first couple of years after moving to India. Deciding on schools based on commute distance and time is a huge variable from what  I see. This is one factor which is to each his own. Some parents are extremely particular about school being really close by, some are not so particular if the mode of commute is taken care of. The Bangalore traffic is not user-friendly, leave alone children-friendly. So, this is a factor where one has to really give a thought about what will work for one’s own child/ren and family.
  3. Fee, of course - these days putting children through school is like never before. I finished my 5 years of graduation for lesser than what some schools charge for a year of kindergarten now. So, yeah, that is a factor. What also comes under consideration is whether one is able to afford or not, one must keep in mind the child’s peers. Different affordability brings in different kinds of people into your and your child’s life. Pick the crowd you are most likely going to be comfortable with. While I said this in 2 sentences, the task is harder than that. :)
  4. Look at the infrastructure the school provides. List down the ones that you think are essential to your child. Only pick schools that provide what you think are absolutely essential. For some parents, it is essential that the school opens the child to various extra-curricular activities, while for the others, they are open to taking the extra-curricular bit upon themselves.
  5. It will make it easier to talk to parents whose children are already going to the schools you have narrowed down to. Talk also to the children studying in the schools. All this will make it easier for you to choose the school that may work best for you and your child. We spoke to a couple of our friends whose children went to the school that we were considering. We also got feedback on how the child has turned out in the time that he had been at the school. The feedback was probably what helped us narrow down the choice a bit for us.
  6. What I am going to next say is a big issue currently in Bangalore - new managements running new-age schools and old-managements running the more mainstream schools and the fairly expensive mainstream schools adapting themselves to the changed times. The new managements can be anybody - realty corporations, spiritual organisations, or a bunch of people who got together to start a school - as simple as that. It is also these newer managements who do not have a track record in the department of education. So, again, it is a call you will have to make based on your own comfort level. The deal with the newer managements is also that sometimes, you get in thinking certain things/people are permanent and once you are in, you maybe surprised that things aren’t as certain. While I say this, I also know of folks who have tried the newer waters in terms of selecting schools that are run by newer managements and have been very happy with the schools. So, this is a fairly dicey factor to make a call on.

Let me end the post here. Please do add factors that you think are important in the comments section and I will keep adding it to the main post. All your thoughts are welcome, as always.

All my earlier posts about schools are here.

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Request all of you to participate at Zeeksha.com and leave your reviews and opinions about schools that you have first hand experience with. At Zeeksha, we have succeeded in getting valuable reviews, a good amount of user Q&A, feedback and opinions from Zeeksha users. It has become a forum for parents to look up info about schools in Bangalore, Chennai, Pun, and Hyderabad.

Skilled Immigrants Leaving the U.S. - A Vivek Wadhwa Article

Here’s a report of how skilled immigrants are leaving the US for better opportunities and better quality of life. It is a well written report that covers almost all points. And some of the numbers are amazing -  “Despite the fact that they constitute only 12% of the U.S. population, immigrants have started 52% of Silicon Valley’s technology companies and contributed to more than 25% of our global patents. They make up 24% of the U.S. science and engineering workforce holding bachelor’s degrees and 47% of science and engineering workers who have PhDs. Immigrants have co-founded firms such as Google (GOOG), Intel (INTC), eBay (EBAY), and Yahoo! (YHOO).”

It isnt all rosy back home the report says - “Indians complained of traffic and congestion, lack of infrastructure, excessive bureaucracy, and pollution.”

Cannot agree more. Irrespective of anything, it is the bureaucracy that has been the most frustrating. I have had to handle many a paper work of late. Applying for a ration card, applying for an LPG connection, getting a voter’s ID card, applying for my dad’s death certificate, helping my mom pay her property tax,  not looking forward to the paper work involved in transferring the house from my dad’s name to my mom’s. I considered writing a post for each of these procedures. But the drudgery of the processes themselves prevented me from blogging about them. And in comparison the ease with which we were able to do our paper work in the US. Of course, it is a pointless comparison. The traffic and everyday living arent as frustrating as knocking on Government office doors.

Your thoughts and opinions are welcome.

Zeeksha.com in today’s Deccan Herald

Because of the amount of school related queries r2blore.chitra-aiyer.com started receiving, a couple of friends and I started Zeeksha.com - a forum for parents to discuss schools, review schools, and interact with other parents about schools and admission procedures. I also announced about Zeeksha.com a while ago here on r2blore.Over a period of time, the site began to get a good amount of participation from parents who are on the look out for schools that suit their needs. And today, Zeeksha.com was covered in Deccan Herald’s Education supplement. Read the online version of the article here.I hope the site continues to be of use to many more parents and I also hope that with continued participation, we get good amount of first hand inputs and reviews about schools. Right now, we cover the cities of Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, and Hyderabad.

Bangaloreans face one of their worst Mondays on Nov 17th

Event - JD(S) convention

Location - Convention at the Palace grounds. Traffic chaos, people put to great inconvenience - Almost all of North and Central Bangalore and for most of Monday.

People affected : Many many thousands. And this includes school children returning home,  patients needing emergency care in ambulances, office goers returning home after a hard day’s work, etc.

Who is responsible : Firstly the Government for letting an event of this scale happen within the city limits and not thinking of the consequences. The JD(S) honchos for being as insensitive towards Bangalore’s denizens. The cops and traffic cops for not having raised their voice against the event when they are well aware of their limitations.

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It was extremely disheartening to read the newspaper reports of all that happened on Monday because of the JD(S) convention. Excerpts:

Deccan Herald: Struggling in this virtual sea of vehicles and humanity were ambulances, office-goers and scores of schoolchildren, their parents desperately waiting back home. “My five-year-old son has been stranded in his bus. I’ve been anxiously waiting for the vehicle although the school closed hours back. It is just not fair to hold us to ransom.” this outburst by a mother, Preeti Sundarajan, summed up the mood.

Many children weren’t home even after dark. Anil Jain, a resident of Chickpet and a parent called up Deccan Herald saying: “My son Samir Jain, a first standard student of Vidya Shilp is stranded in the traffic jam while travelling by the school bus. Using the driver’s cell phone, he calls me and complains that he wants to go attend nature’s call. There is no way, i can reach him.”

Read more here.

Bangalore Mirror: Kumaraswamy was in no mood to apologise for Monday’s traffic snarls, except for passing reference to the inconvenience caused to school going kids. “I understand the inconvenience caused to them. But still, having walked a little distance, that too for a day, there is no need for a greater discussion. Today, even after 50-years of independence, children in villages travel seven to eight kilometres everyday to attend class. Have we ever talked about this? Let city people understand the reality and plight of rural children too,” he fumed.

WHY BANGALORE, WHY MONDAY?
Clarifying the party’s decision to hold the rally at the Palace Grounds, Kumaraswamy said, “We tried our best to find out places in the outskirts of the city. We saw a few places near Devanahalli but they were not convenient enough to hold a massive rally and so we finalised on Palace Grounds. Monday was chosen because it is the day when farmers do not work in fields as they usually plan to attend the weekly trade fair. Generally, not much agricultural activities happen on Monday so we had the rally on Monday facilitating the large participation of farmers.”

Read more here.

A friend I know, was stuck near the cantonment station from about 6.00 pm in his office cab. The vehicles ahead of them were stuck there, for what seemed like eternity. So, he and a few of his colleagues just decided to walk home to Hebbal. They saw many school children and ambulances just stuck in the mess of traffic. It took many many hours for all the people at the convention to get out and for the traffic to clear.

If a Monday was chosen because farmers have that day off, then go to a place where the farmers live! What is the logic in choosing a city venue on a day when the farmers have the day off and the city people are working a full day??!!!

From Deccan Herald: Even going by the City’s notorious traffic situation, it takes about an hour to navigate a distance of 8 kms. But on Monday, it was a never-ending road-trip. Some of our readers share their experience:

* Vidya Shilp school (near Hebbal) to Chickpet: 7 hours
* Cambridge layout to Hegde
Nagar: 6 hrs
* Cantonment Railway station to
Kempapura (near Hebbal flyover): nearly 5 hrs.
* Rajbhavan to Sadashivnagar via
Seshadripuram 1st Main Road:
4 hrs.
* BEL Road to Benson Town (traffic was diverted):  7 hrs.
* Tumkur Road to BEL circle: 4 hrs.
* Tannery Road to R T Nagar:  5 hrs.
* Coles Park to new air port: 7 hrs
* Many who boarded BMTC buses lost their patience and decided to walk.
* Outside Cauvery theatre, vehicles coming out after the matinee and 1st show added to the chaos.
* Magic boxes near Sadashivnagar and CBI circle showed up their inadequacies.
* In front of Doordarshan and Munireddy Palya there were many dramas.
* Not to mention, exit points to Mysore, Tumkur, Hosur, Hoskote highways was chaotic