Shifting “Littles” by little
The lockdown was a very hard time as the pandemic situation had struck the whole world. People lost their lives, their jobs, and all their hopes. Everything changed for everyone. No-one could ever imagine that the calamity that had come upon the whole world would eat everything up like a monster.
Varun and Malika , the brother sister duo were owners of a preschool “Littles”. Their school had been shut down for close to 8 months now. They had waited for the schools to resume for good period , but there were no hopes from anywhere. They were paying humongous amount of rent each month as it was a rented premises. Though the landlord had considered them and had helped them as far as he could, it became unbearable for them and they decided to call it quits in 9th month. Besides them in their family, they had their eldest sister Bhasmi and mother Mrs Verma who was a senior citizen.
The whole family went onto a nostalgia as they remembered how the 3 years had passed since they took the franchisee and had spent a fortune to run the school. They remembered the first time when their mother had advised them to go to the Franchisee mela in Niyati Maidan held of the education sector.
They had visited the Mela with their beloved sister Dr Muskaan who unfortunately is no more, and after all the scrutiny of the project and the details , they took a very big risk by investing their whole life investments in the project of preschool “Littles”.
After visiting the headoffice and being convinced by Mr Vinash the MD of the company , they were convinced of the same. Right from searching the location, selection of the premises, to getting the whole structure completed ….the furniture, paints, equipments, electricity , kitchen, books, dresses , arrangement of staff, teachers, admissions…..everything was being managed by the family.
They were also looted by vendors at most of the places as they were too naïve and dint have the experience. They got their school setup somehow and starting from a strength of 3 kids and 1 staff managed to get around 25 kids and 8 staff members and everything seemed to be just ok but not well for them.
They somehow ran the school for almost 3 long years with hope of meeting the breakeven and making some profits. However , the school dint run too well and went into losses, followed by lockdown period where everything became standstill. It was a very stressful and tiring journey for the whole family and somehow they kept hopes but the lockdown spoilt it all.
As the decision to quitting “Littles” was taken quite late , they merely had nearly 12 more days for the lock-in period of the premises to get over. The school to be wrapped up asap. They informed their landlord about the vacation of premises. It was a huge task that was lying ahead of them as the playschool had a lot of things that needed to be fixed before shifting it. They had to remove the artificial grass that was glued tightly throughout the premises which , there was a lot of mirror work and wooden work to be taken care of, the swings and Montessori equipment to be packed delicately in the cardboard boxes or “Cartons” , the electronic gadgets and electrical fittings to be removed , the kitchen stuff to be packed , so much was the work and so little was the time. As eldest sister Bhashmi had worked in the healthcare sector and had very good managerial skills and was very resourceful too.
She spoke with the painter cum contractor Hashim who had worked for her before. They showed the entire school site to Hashim who promised to help them along with his men. When they discussed the entire estimate including the packing charges, carpenter work,plumber work , Hashim gave them an unbelievable amount.
“Madam its too much of work and 2 little of time , we will require around 7-10 days for the entire work to be finished and as you know that each work requires expertise , we will need to hire different people to do the same”. Hashim said.
“But Hashim , look at the tasks , they are so meagre and you are just charging so exorbitant, Varun almost yelled at Hashim.
“No Sir, I am charging you a low price in fact. You see there is a lot of work that require specific time and people. We need packing material, mirror person, carpenter, plumber , electrican and gadget technicians, as well as transportation costs that would be extra. “ Hashim tried his best to justify the costs.
“Hey man still its too costly, I will pay you half the cost” Varun told Hashim.
“No sir, I am telling you the right price” by this time Hashim made a long face. However, they assured him that they will give him satisfactory amount. They were supposed to meet after a day for buying of the packing material. When Bhashmi called up Hashim he dint answer the phone. Even Varun and Malika tried through their phones still there was no reply.
“We have to do this by ourselves now “ , the siblings decided . Since a day was wasted in waiting for Hashim . They planned the strategy for shifting the premises. They called up the landlord for a space to keep their stuff and they were very lucky that they got two big rooms in a basement nearby itself where the landlord accommodated them. The countdown had begun – now they had exactly 10 days to go!!!!!
Day 1 : Artificial grass removal and gas disconnection
Malika and Bhashmi rushed to the school premises the next morning. They took some tools to remove the hard grass that was glued so firmly.
“Let us catch hold of the grass from the edges from where it is coming up. “ – Hashmi shouted to Malika.
“Its too hard it wont come out” Malika shouted back.
“It will come out we just have to be patient”, both sisters used their strength and tools and the grass finally lost their grip”. They started to take out the grass with all their might. They struggled the entire day and as there were around 7 -8 such big pieces with size varying from 6 “ ft x 3 “ft each and weighing around 15 kgs each.
After spending the entire day it finally did come out .
Since the playschool also served meals, the gas connection was being removed by the gas vendor who was given the service call. All the other bills were being paid successfully.
Day 2 : Packing material
Next day was Sunday. There was a huge marketplace nearby by the name “Botla” . Botla was a wholesale market for all consumer goods and packing material. As Malika had a webinar that was scheduled at 12 noon, both the sisters planned to visit the market and come back as early as possible. They went to the market at 10.00 am which was the time of the shops opening up. They went to a shop and bought big plastic bags from them . As the price of the “Cartons- (cardboard boxes for packing)” was too high, they dint buy many cartons and decided they will buy some lose “Cartons from some vendors on the bicycle.”
On the way back from “Botla” market , they saw a vendor and tried to chase him but failed to do so. They also enquired from some local shops and even waited for a vendor but could not get the requisite material.
They came back home, Malika attended the webinar. On the way to school premises they finally got a good deal on the boxes and purchased 10 boxes . Now they had enough packing material . They were able to pack the cartons with the school Montessori equipments and also marked the boxes with name of the material consisting it.
Day 3 :
As it was a preschool there were huge mirrors that were fixed in frames on the walls that were around 11 in number. Each mirror was around sizes 8”ft x 6 “ft each. To remove the mirrors not only required huge skills but also needed to be removed very carefully and shifted to the basement that was nearly 1 km which also had huge steps descending its way to the two rooms.
“I will call the mirror work person” this time again Bhashmi took the initiative . The mirror work person agreed to send his 2 people at the premises who arrived 2 hours late. Bhashmi and Malika were not sure whether the people would be able to do the work as skillfully as was expected out of them.
The two guys looked at each mirror very carefully and told them that they would be able to do the task allotted to them however it would amount to double the labour cost.
“But why are you charging us so much “ Malika was anxious.
“Madam we have told you the correct cost. Replied one of them.
“The two sisters cried in anguish , do you think we are fools that you are trying to make so much money? “
Bhashmi and Malika finally gave up on negotiation as it was one of the delicate tasks and the cost of a single mirror for too much to be forsaken. SO , after 1 hour the mirrors were out of the frames undamaged . BINGO !!!!!! The mirrors are off.
Day 4 :
Electrical gadgets to be removed.
Now , came the turn of the electrical gadgets . The landlord was very kind and he recommended a good electrician by the name “Shimmer” .
“Malaika and Varun this is my and mom’s hard earned money so we cannot afford to let any of the gadgets to be damaged do you hear me? “ Bhashmi discussed it with them.
Their mom , Mrs Verma asked them “By the way what are our gadgets that need to be removed from the school?”
Oh Mom, there are many. Malaika replied.
“Well the gadgets that had to be removed from the wall were 2 LEDs, 2 AC’s , 8 CCTV cameras, RO machine , refrigerator and couple of switches from the switch boards. “
Shimmer was called by phone immediately to the school. Shimmer was a thorough professional , though he was very hasty and in a habit of doing things fast, he was meticulous and he removed the gadgets carefully.
By mistake , Varun got the outside lights removed of the school which was basically an open verandah and the as the AC ‘s outlets rested on the terrace “Shimmer “ had to really struggle hard as it got quiet dark in the evening and he even cut his finger. Though “Shimmer” was kind enough to do the work finely he charged extra money for removal of AC’s much more than the market rate which somehow was approved by the siblings as electronic gadgets were expensive.
All the work was completed to the satisfaction, however one AC outlet removal was left pending which was completed next day. So, electrical gadgets were removed.
Day 5 :
Next was the turn of transportation of the packed material and gadgets to be done safely to the basement. First was the turn of swings, plastic chairs and tables, Montessori and electrical gadgets to be transported safely. Again , the landlord suggested vehicles to carry the material to the desired destination. “Ritesh” and his friend were the two guys who had the requisite arrangements and they made a decent deal per round for the stuff to be carried. So the initial rounds were completed.
Special people were called to move the mirrors safely who did their job very well.
Arrangement of the material was very wisely done by Bhashmi who arranged the artificial grass first after clearing it and putting the plastic chairs and tables so well. The 1 km distance though not too far had to be covered with great caution to avoid any kind of damage to the material. Malaika , Varun and Bhashmi used to chase the vehicles and take turns by turns to make sure everything was safe. And it was.
Day 6 :
The Wet wall and termites
“OH MY GOD “, the basement left wall is all wet and damp and also seems to be affected by termites. Bhashmi cried in dismay the next day when they went to the basement. The left wall was all damp and it appeared there was dampness and some traces of termites though not very prominent.
They had to get the wall covered by fibre sheets which the landlord gladly offered to put and all the arrangement was rearranged as the wooden material was kept off walls and plastic material was put at the other end. Somehow after spending the whole day in covering the wall, the solution was applied.
Day 7 :
Bhashmi and Malika went in the search of the carpenter for removing the panels and the wooden structure of the mirror frames which was tightly engraved on the wall. The ball pool at the rear end of the school was made very skillfully with some hut shaped gate that jumped the kids into the pool of colourful and soft balls. As it was again a tedious task, it really needed a skilled carpenter to go and get a skillful person to undertake the tough job. Again Bhashmi and Malika went to the nearby labour hire place near the school where they could hire the skilled labours. One person accompanied them to the school and after seeing all the work he recommended to get another couple of people to help him.
“How much will you charge ?” again the same question was posed by the sisters. The two men who had reached the premises and seen the work mentioned the amount. A successful negotiation was done and all the panels and other wooden work was somehow done with expertise. Even the iron board at the front gate with the name “Littles “ was being taken down with great expertise and it was captured by Varun and Malika on their camera.
Though Varun was a bit unhappy about the nails of the wooden fittings in the basement that he wanted to be worked upon still it was a success.
Day 8 :
As the school cupboard still had lot of books and material to be gotton rid of. A scrap collector was being sold all the books and the garbage was appropriately disposed off.
Malika carried huge bags of the garbage that after the activity next day all her forgotton pains of cervical and lumber spine returned.
Day 9 :
Almost all the things were being transported and the landlord made the final arrangements of the vacant premises to be handover to him safely. The refund amounts were adjusted against repair.
DAY 10 :
Final handover documents, keys and premises was being surrendered.
ALAS !!! Mission impossible became possible by shifting “Littles”. So, the family with heaviness in their hearts had to let go of the project in which they had invested so much of time and energy and the project “Littles” failed…..but they hope to open a bigger venture which would succeed enormous each day little by little.