Popli Aunty, as she is best known to the city where she has lived and worked over 50 years, has made a pioneering contribution to nursery education. As principal of the Municipal Nursery School for 20 years, she made a government nursery school the most sought-after nursery school in Lucknow. Post retirement, she started Athena Nursery School in her home; the school will soon turn 26. She has taught at least two generations of children. She has evolved new teaching methods to make learning fun for children. She has also taught at LaMartinere Girls College, Christ Church and Loreto Convent. Aunty has done brief teaching stints in the UK and the US, also Burma, and has been invited to Australia to give lectures on early childhood care.
At 84, Aunty has a full day. Apart from Athena which keeps her busy all morning, there is her philanthropic work with Mashaal, the evening school she runs to help poor children keep up with studies. Aunty is proud that the school is able to help children who would otherwise lag behind do well in class. One Mashaal alumini is now doing her BSc Nursing, making Aunty very proud. “I think I’ll be lost if I don’t teach. Sometimes if I’m having knee pain and the children come, I just get up and start moving and all the pains just go away, I forget. I don’t need any medicine,” Aunty laughs.
Marriage brought Popli Aunty to Lucknow in the 50s and she and her scientist husband Dr S P Popli made Lucknow their home although neither of them belong to the city/ State. Aunty’s late husband, who always gave her work unstinting support, was a leading scientist at the CDRI. She has remarkable stories to tell. As a child she grew up in Rangoon. As a 12-year-old she did an 18-day trek from Rangoon to Lumding, Assam, with her parents and younger siblings during the War to escape the bombings. From Assam, they went to Rawalpindi, across the subcontinent where her grandparents lived – the journey in a coal train lasting seven days. Needless to say, this experience must have shaped her life. “It teaches you to take everything as it comes, to do your best in any given situation,” Aunty explains.
Founder LUCKNOW Society is privileged to meet Popli Aunty at her home in Nirala Nagar. LUCKNOW Society Salutes Mrs Kaushalya Popli for a lifetime of uninterrupted loving service. We wish Popli Aunty best of health and happiness as she continues to teach, nurture, and inspire yet another generation!