Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trade-offs

Since last few days I have felt like writing more and more. I am reading this book called "What I talk about when I talk about running" by Haruki Murakami. If you read that book you will obviously would love to go on for running. He puts all that very beautifully. He also talks about his journey of becoming a novelist. And that has what brought me back to my blog third time this week. I have nothing specific to write about other than a conversation I had with my manager yesterday.

My program manager yesterday had a leadership talk with me where we talked about how I have seen myself growing as a leader and how she has seen me growing as a leader in last 18 months. During the talk, she asked me a question if I think I have been able to maximize the resources and network of Teach for India and if I feel that I have optimally used the support Teach for India offered. Her question was obvious - I have chosen not to live with other Teach for India fellows, have been out of facebook since last one year and have missed majority of  Teach for India social events.

It is not that I want to look different. I think I am mostly termed as crazy. But all these have been part of my personality which in your late 20s probably starts to get consolidated. I am no asocial - I have my share of Coffees, WhatsApp, Phone conversations and Emails but most of the times social expectations come in between of my work. I was working this Sunday very efficiently but I had committed to meet a friend from my previous organization a week before. I lived up to my promise of meeting my friend but the rhythym of my work broke down. In middle of the week another friend from my previous organization called and he was angry from me being not in touch. My old friendship bonds have been very strong and I am not able to keep up with them as much as I try. I have made few great friends in Teach for India as well and I am not able to keep up with them as well.

I live a very independent life. I live alone, I cook for myself and do all the running around from empty cylinders to service of my active by myself. Plus my students who come back from goverment schools in the evening do not want another teacher teaching them on blackboard. So my lessons have to be creative and funny. Whenever I have delivered an unplanned class, it turned off my students so much so that they would choose cricket over coming to my class for days. How do I make everything fun for them is another story and my program manager plays a larger role in it so I am going to tell that another time.

But planning fun lessons of history and maths for 6th graders, physics and maths for 9th graders and maths for 11 graders leaves me really no time to have errands in social life. So when my manager asked me if I think I have been able to maximize the support, the answer is No. For me Teach for India experience was mostly about myself. I wanted to throw myself  in a circumstance where I am living with less money in hand, no luxurious office spaces and try something which I wanted to do. I wanted to deliver me. I wanted to find my solutions within. This is exactly what I did. It was never hard to make all these choices because all these were subconscious instincts. This place had put me in a position where I was responsible for lives of the children who can become good adults. The stakes have been high. Social life took a backseat definitely. I made new friends occasionally. When my father was admitted in the hospital, I made friends with all the nurse and technical staff under the Doctor. We exchanged Happy Diwali messages as well. I have made friends in Neb Sarai, a part of Delhi where I live.  I have made friends with a Dosa waala who left his corporate job to start a small restaurant. His restaurant right now is very small but his Dosas and his sambhar are exotic.If you are somewhere from South Delhi, you will be amazed to eat Dosa this tasty in such a crowded and packy place as Neb Sarai.

There is definitely a trade-off for knowing yourself more. I would have made more friends with lots of other fellows. I would have reached out more to the academic impact staff to find solutions for my students but honestly my program manager's prior experience was sufficient. So, my interaction within Teach for India stayed limited. 

I have been very comfortable in being with myself. I am getting to think that may be this is me, my personality. It did not require much of thoughts. Staying this way just suited me. Although I could not agree more when my Program Manager suggested towards the end of the conversation how we have a responsibility of sharing our hardships and our successes because it could be valuable to other people. I have been open in sharing resources but talking about myself in front of people have made me uncomfortable. I could write about myself here for strangers, unknown people but I cant do that in form of a public speaking. I don't think I am an introvert but this is how it is.

I want to leave you with another quote from the book that I am reading. To be in the rhythm of your work everyday, stop yourself at a point where you think you want to do lot more. It will be easier then to come back in the groove next day. It is a very interesting suggestion. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Methi Leaves

There are several ways to get over a feeling. One of them I found out today is by cleaning Methi leaves. This morning, I woke up with a long list of professional commitments to fulfill but instead I chose to bring out my domesticated avatar.

I am living in a house on first floor which has one room completely empty. The room  is on East side and has a door where morning rays fills the room. I have kept that room empty especially for this particular reason. I love to sit on that doorway especially in these winters. And  as I found out today, It is a good place to clean Methi leaves.

To take out the  leaves from the twig in front of the sun can have some pacifying effect on you. Life is simple, clean it out like Methi leaves. There were so many things that came across my mind. And slowly they came, stayed and left. None of them left me complicated or empty. Peacefully they walked out.

May be there is something about the green color or freshness of the leaves. Or may be about the simplicity of the process - no lesson plans or behavior management that I usually have to deal with. Teaching is hard. Being patient with your students is harder. The  adolescence of students is challenging. This is their transformation in becoming an adult and I am part of that transformation and that too in a role which is pivotal. That is huge responsibility.

But Methi leaves, they are not like that. They are very friendly. They don't give you any responsibility or obligations. They are just a small insignificant errand.Work is too much pressure may be and it rarely allows me insignificant errands. When it does, it is friendly and fresh!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

We all wait

"We all wait" Victor Novaski said.

The Terminal is one of the greatest films of Tom Hanks. This Saturday I was translating this movie for my students. They enjoyed the movie and especially the concept that he waited for nine months to fulfill the promise he made to his Father of taking as simple thing as an autograph from a Jazz singer.

Today, there are 10,000 marriages in Delhi. It was a such a heavy traffic on Delhi-Badarpur road that cars were not able to cross the red light because the traffic that was stopped by the next red light down the road was still overflowing to this red light. I along with almost every second car took a U-turn after 30 minutes of being stalled on the road. It is interesting to see that 50% of people could either take a U-turn to go back to their homes or find alternative routes. But all of them were stalled for 30 minutes to be given this opportunity.

Life makes us wait - sometimes on the road from where can take a U-turn and sometimes for helping us find alternatives. And most importantly sometimes to clear the road ahead.

I took a U-turn today. But most of the times in my life I haven't. I wait for roads to get clear.

I go where I have to go.