The greenery, breeze and shady trees help them concentrate

A. Dhandayuthapani hails from Palamedu. G. Dinesh Kumar, an MBA graduate, lives in his native place Sholavandan. N. Muthukumar has returned after leaving his catering job in Jordan.

They are total strangers with one thing in common. They can be spotted at the park on the Corporation premises at Tallakulam.

What brought them together here is their aspiration to get a government job.

With dreams in their eyes and determination in their hearts, boys and girls band together in big and small groups to prepare for competitive examinations conducted by different government agencies.

The greenery of the park, breeze and shade from the trees and a secluded place that offers much-needed quietude from the cacophony of television sets provide them an ideal ambience to concentrate on their studies.

“We hear that job aspirants like us have been coming here for the past two decades. As successful candidates leave their teams, newer job aspirants keep joining us,” says Dhandayuthapani, who has recently cleared his Group II examination conducted by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission.

It was his first attempt on competitive examination after coming to the Corporation park and he tasted success. Two earlier attempts he had made preparing with his friend at home failed him.

“Here each job aspirant is an expert in his subject. The group study helps in understanding each subject with much easier. At home, I used to doze off within 30 minutes. But, here we find peer pressure to go for the preparation seriously. After coming here I have passed. But, my friend back at home is still preparing,” he says with a chuckle.

The candidates start trickling in at the park right from 8.30 a.m. Most of them leave by 6 p.m., while many working in private companies join them later for their night study that goes up till 11 p.m. on normal days.

“As new exam schedules are announced, the crowd swells here. When the exams draw closer, many stay here overnight,” says Kalaiselvan.

The greatest advantage of coming here is that young job aspirants are guided by the experienced ones. For example, Dinesh Kumar, who has cleared four examinations in the last few months, has passed Group IV, III and II and also the VAO examination. Awaiting his employment order as Senior Inspector in Cooperatives, now he is preparing for Group I examination.

While many job aspirants elsewhere do not know the examination schedule, one of them says they get tipped off about the schedules much before the announcements are made, thanks to their seniors who are now placed in important positions at the Secretariat in Chennai.

Invariably, every group sits on flex sheets, used in advertisement hoardings, spread on the ground. They carry thin school textbooks to huge subject books, model question papers and lot of other reading materials.

“Hunting for the right study material ends here for many of us. Many of us have joined various coaching centres for week-end classes, mainly to collect reading materials. A material supplied to one group reaches every person within a week,” says P. Rajapandian, who has given up his job as a medical representative.

It is very difficult to prepare for competitive examinations working in private companies due to heavy workloads. “I feel that a focussed preparation for six months is good enough to clear examination,” he says. Like him many have resigned their jobs to join a team.

“Whenever someone clears an examination, many of his neighbours and friends join us,” says Dhandayuthapani. B. Deepa is one who has resigned her job as a sales executive in a private company. She feels that losing her six months salary is worth as she is hopeful of clearing a Group II examination. With just one week at the park, she is yet to join any group.

Not only candidates, but also their parents are encouraged by the success of neighbours. “My father has allowed me to come here all the way from Sholavandan only after he (Dinesh Kumar) passed out,” a young candidate said.

The team members claim that their leader is one Muralidharan, who had passed Group II exam, and now works as a Revenue Inspector at the Collectorate.

“He shared all the tricks with his wife, and she is now a Junior Assistant in Virudhunagar,” Dhandayuthapani says. Not forgetting his old days, Muralidharan visits them at lunch hour every day and monitors their progress. He still motivates and scolds those who fail to turn up at times.

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