Friday, 9 March 2012

Cowbells Ringing

I have just come off of a really jam packed week. A billion thoughts are swirling inside my head. I feel I must share at least a few of them here.

The main event in my life this week was the celebration of International Women's Day. I talked about it in parts in this blog in previous posts already. But at the back end of this celebration, was so much effort. We really struggled with myriad issues within and without to put together a coherent day. As I said to someone who asked me today. A few people said they enjoyed it, and thanked me for my efforts. Fewer number of people had complaints. So, on balance, I think I will call it a win, of sorts.

It is the first time I am putting together something of this magnitude. The academic conferences and such like have been cake walks in comparison with this one. It would normally be my tendency to romanticize the whole thing. To paint that rosy picture of a rural path with cows ambling along, their bells ringing musically, and happy contended folks walking around celebrating their uncomplicated life. But I feel reluctant to do that this time. So bear with me.

The first issue I faced was one of having to cater to too many different tastes. I am an accommodating person by nature. If you give me a suggestion, and if I don't happen to have a strong opinion about that matter, I am likely to take it (except if you are my husband, of course). I tried to ask around and get ideas from various people. About what the day should entail. I got some clear ones. But mostly, I got a lot of ifs and buts and generic theoretical gyaan which was increasingly less useful as we approached D-Day.

Perhaps its a failing of mine. I like everything to be well organised. I work better in the small picture sometimes, than the big one. When I delegate, I like to hear back progress on the details. Not a general 'yes, its all done.' That sort of thing makes me nervous. I like lists. I like ticking off things on lists. I like to look upon a list at the end of the day and find items ticked off. For example, on Tuesday, this was one part of my list:

Clearly, there were a lot of things there. The four people who slogged along with me in the final analysis, did a lot of lot of work. I am really grateful to them. I was fully expecting that I would have to do those things myself, and that would have really broken me. But these women were just awesome. They were the ones that made my day special. The only regret I have is that I did not realise that I should focus my efforts on them, and not that large amorphous mass of women on the campus. What I should have done was talked more with them. Figured out what things excite them. And planned to do those and only those (of course with my own flavour). 

The other painful realisation was about our young people. I have been a young person myself. I have been a not-young person, on the other side of the classroom, for ten years now. Every day I try to retain some empathy. To look at things from student's perspective. To recall the time when I was in that place in life. To not become 'that professor' - you know - the cynical urban legend of a monster professor who eats undergraduates for breakfast. But I have my breaking points. Broadly, I think, if I average out my decade, I have had less reciprocation from students than I deserve. I mean, even if one looks objectively. Its disappointing. But not very surprising.

I am big on figuring out positive traits, and positive angles on experiences. An eternal optimist if you will.  At the end of a very busy, chaotic day when Murphy ruled strong and I was overall disappointed with my own performance, I still had several very awesome things I took away. Many thoughts and emotions that I personally experienced during the course of the day that made me feel wonderful and lucky and so very happy to have such an opportunity given to me. The scope for personal growth is immense here and that is typically good enough for me to overcome any misgivings...

Watch this space for some more upbeat reports; and what games Murphy played, next! 

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