The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A fine cocktail of skills

Shutting the door in someone’s face is rude. Never give flowers to the Chinese, unless you’re at a funeral. It is an insult in Japan to hand over your business card with one hand. These are just some lessons in etiquette that will be taught at Calcutta’s newest finishing school, which has Ruby Bhatia as brand ambassador. And it’s for everyone, from peons and drivers to corporate employees and school students.

Aria Finishing Schools & English Language Training Centres launched its first centre on Middleton Street on Friday, with one batch already signed up and trained teachers set to begin class. “We have had a huge response even before the start. It is an indication of the need for these kinds of courses,” says Khalid Jamal, managing director, Aria Finishing Schools.

Aria, the communication, soft skills and English language training branch of Raabta Communications, started off with its first school two years ago in Hyderabad, and already has a few others in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. Aria plans to have 100 centres in the Northeast by April next year, in association with Pinnacle Solutions, the franchisee in the region.

Grooming, behaviour, interpersonal communication, personal image-building, public speaking and confidence-building are on the list of skills to be taught, to “make people feel better about themselves and give them an edge over the competition”. As Jamal puts it: “After conducting a survey, we found that both employers and employees, as well as those applying for jobs, feel that there is that something extra, above qualifications, which is needed to make a nice package.’

The course includes ‘easy talk’, ‘go talk’ and ‘smart talk’, for the different levels of English proficiency required, beside classes in finesse, panache and royal swan — a cocktail of skills for the “upwardly mobile”.

Each centre will have place for 3,000 students, in eight batches a day. Classes will be held thrice a week, for about an hour, and will run for two to six weeks, for a price of Rs 599 to Rs 2,500. Aria has plans to take their message to about 50 schools and colleges, as well as corporate houses, armed with leaflets and free demonstrations.

Says Sharad Bengani, who will head the first centre in the city: “We are giving individuals from all walks of life the opportunity to make their mark, by equipping them with professional value addition.”

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