Someone else’s business

Quick with advice

Offered for no price

Deprived of wisdom

Poking nose in someone else’s business


The poor soul who works

Who knows the system

The man with a vision

Understands the difference between will and indecision

Has a meaning for his existence.

He who works, becomes the victim


The one with free advice

Has to prove his point

With no experience, no knowledge

No wisdom, no mission

He speaks and argues and questions and pretends

Hopes his words will become a reason


The man who does

Hears the man with words

Wonders if he can show him the difference

Between talking and doing

Wondering and knowing

Asking and answering


The man with words

With nothing better to do

Hopes his word

Would stop someone else too

From doing and trying

Failing and succeeding

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At the end of the day

I only get time to write at night

…by which time i am quite stressed out
tired…
and with not a single positive thought in my mind….
While I m in morning bus beautiful posts run through my mind..full of hope and faith..
and when I am back in the evening and stare yet again the starkly lit screen in a dimly lit room, surrounded by the sad tune of Billy Joel’s Piano Man, with TV on mute in background and the noise of fan motor to keep my company… I really feel the world is coming to an end…
then my mind says, what if it even is…
true! exclaims a voice from inside.
Can’t really get more sad than this.. can it?
Oh yeah! Try falling sick! The voice again.
Can’t really care about that at this time.
………………
I know this post is not turning out as it was intended to 13 hrs back. Let me give it another try.
So I m going with 2 other colleagues to CMU in june for conferences. We are also presenting a poster there. Good news eh?
Listen next.
One of other two is a young man. Super intelligent guy. Did a bachelor in Chemistry. Thats all. And is the IT head for running an intelligent tutoring system. One of those guys who love coding. And is Muslim.
His visa application got rejected.
So what is the lesson I learnt today.
Hey girl! Wake up! Smell the burn of discrimination. Smell the pain of inequality. Smell the world you have shut out conveniently. Its that damn voice again.
You know, its only the lunch time, usually between 1:30 – 2 pm every 5 days in a week when I hear/talk about things. Interact with outside world.
To talk about things like Rakhi Sawant’s swayamvar.
Big Boss (who can possible watch that crap anyways!!!! – V again)
Raj Thackeray (if u r living in mumbai and not talking about this – means you are working in a hotshot MNC with no locals around)
Plants (urban farming or should i say balcony farming?)
Evils of social customs in wedding ceremonies (3 unmarried, 1 married successful women)
The ways of younger generation (kids of 1 married woman)
More gossips from home….
Rahul Mahajan (have I got that right?)
Modi scandel
Sania Mirza Malik… etc etc…
How Muslims are different from Hindus, how none of the three ladies would like to get associated with them through marital ties (either their own or their children) and how the cultural differences legitimize such a thought! (for the record, I am not one of those 3 ladies. My first serious love at sight was a Muslim guy. Only he was accompanied by 4 women, and so I didn’t have guts to approach him… but I often visited that site later hoping to see him again… in vain!)
“I see tress are green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

I see skies are blue and clouds are bright
Bright blessed days
dark scared nights
And I think to myself – what a wonderful world”
Its that voice again. With a cynical smile. :(
Probably I m being too harsh. You don’t need to marry everyone to show you consider that person as your equal.
But presuming that a person from particular community or background or upbringing or history is not likely to make a good match for you or people you care for; is this not a blind spot one nurtures?
Isn’t such a blind spot one of main reasons why such discrimination exists and grows?
I m very sad at the end of the day.
Waiting for the sun to rise again.

Forgot

my password today.. that shows how much I have been ignoring this writing space. Also shows how damn busy I have been.

I can’t remember very well the last hol I enjoyed. Thoroughly. I guess it must be Goa in mid-March. I loved Goa irrespective of my disliking the fact that we didn’t see much there. I guess its the effect of being in water. Body-sailing with the tides. Its thrilling. Kashid beach is the best one I have been to so far. Including Andamans. Nevertheless, you cross 25 and you start caring for your life. And so, I prefer those beaches where I see a life-gaurd hanging around. Even though he might not have equipment or facilities to be able to save me if I am in a real danger! I just like the thought that the chances that I drown and die reduce at least a bit.

Yeah, thinking of water brings back the peace. I can’t even seem to remember the mountains. It’s almost like 6 months since I went up to a decent height. I can’t imagine why I do this with myself. I blame Mumbai and late-coming (read No-coming) of monsoons! Every week I dream of going up lush green Shayadris, while getting soaked up in water falls.. and it never happens.

I feel like Aamir Khan in DCH after Shalini lefts him. Its as if the whole world is passing by and I am standing in a corner watching it. I know I am thinking all off-track and if I start thinking morbidly it’s not gonna end. But sometimes you need just a small pause. The music sounds like cacophony right now. My friend who is married with a kid and is usually miserable that she is not working or earning for herself, independent, or in a nutshell would love to exchange her life with mine, usually hears similar woes from me! I feel like I have no time for myself. Much like what she says. I am too tired to do anything at the end of the day. And too lonely to do anything alone anyways! This week I just watched TV for like 4 hours after returning from office. Its just the life which I thought I would never lead. I hate TV. I hate the idea that I just work the whole day and and then spend the remaining time de-stressing myself.  I don’t seem to be able to break this barrier. There is so much to do but either I am v bad at managing energy levels and time or I am not able to break the problem in sub-problems correctly.

Any suggestions?

Hope

Anything I read anymore, related in anyway to education, I smirk, which is the most positive reaction I can manage. A simple and not so precise reason for that would be, irrespective of source from which it comes, anything I hear or read about education is crap. It truly is. Literally. Which means its indigestible remains of information we take inside. In educational domain, the art of teaching is only something which is not crap or fart. The art of teaching, isn’t even close to the art of speaking which management gurus practice. Its quite much superior to that. And you need to look at it from a point of view opposite to conventional parlance. That’s very important to do. Coz teaching doesn’t mean facilitating an individual to learn a skill alone. Its a balancing act where you have to evolve yourself and other individuals and be in the process of be evolved by those individuals. As soon as it is restricted by the curriculum, by the dreads of the survival of an individual, by the greed to know more – more than others, you fall below that separating line. That line which separates the world into two categories. There are some people in the world you keep it going. Reproduce the same stuff. And then there is a minuscule group which create new. Or should I say, process into something which didn’t exist earlier. Created out of the already existing ingredients though. Yet recycled. In a lifetime, you keep rotating between these two areas, but more often than not fall into reproduction one. Thats how the world keeps itself going.

Now, with all this in my head, it is very difficult to read a paper which talks about a non-formal education intervention that took place in a tribal area of Madhya Pradesh with an aim of increasing confidence and self-esteem of participants, and also of with hope to include children in formal education at appropriate standard. Why is it difficult? Because, in my understanding you can’t increase confidence of kids if you try to bring them into formal education. You would say – thats not true. You inculcate the feeling of competition and light the fire of desire to learn more – bang, you have got yourself not only a kid who would crack the formal education system, but also a one who is ambitious and wants to do more. True. I totally agree with that. What is the catch here? The process. How do you do it? For simplicity, if we say, our end product (one needs to define the characteristics of it) is the child with following qualities: 1) He is curious. 2) He knows how to feed his curiosity. 3) He is productive. Aha! Here is the problem. As soon as you use the word which falls out of scientific domain. “Productive.” Impossible to define it. When you are not in conventional mode. Ok, lets leave it for the moment. 1 n 2 are good enough. Any formal education would not want 2) to happen. Because if it does, the world will fall apart. Economies will collapse. Some tell me, there is a functional need for people to stay in the low-graded jobs and not feel bad about them, coz lets face it someone’s gotta do the shitty work. So say, if a data feeder (feeds data into computer) becomes curious about microsoft excel and tries it out and excels in it, he would want to be promoted. He would want to become an analyst. He would want to make sense of the symbols he was until now blindly using. But hey, there are many self-acclaimed “social workers” in this field.  They have the hope for impossible to make possible. To win the war against the world. They try to do the 2) while also getting the child crack formal education. This is the only way out, one needs degrees to eat! But, unfortunately, we again got into a loophole. The formal education doesn’t treat everyone equally. It can’t because it serves the economy and the existing structures/processes in the society.  So one child might be able to do both 2) and exams, another one might fail at both. As the expectations are higher. You want the child to do music which he loves, but also math which earns his bread. I would respect it if the intervention says we only wish for everyone to pass exams. But then, that doesn’t work either. Because, its is not a thought through program. After 12th class, if the kid goes back to fields to farm/gather food from forest he is worse off than his illiterate counterparts.

So the first problem with anything I read in education, is that we don’t have a goal, a vision, an aim. Nobody does. Not even the leaders. Everyone lies in the category of re-producing the existing types. For those who have read a bit more, would say, lets just focus on getting things done to start with. Like the teacher goes to school regularly. Kids don’t use any textbooks. They don’t do any formal exams. They just play with lots of toys, make toys, talk about things, etc etc. Have a time to develop, what we call, abstract thinking. Which routine day-to-day activities don’t give us opportunity to do. Kids have fun and teachers have fun. That is what school would do. Say this is an aim. We bunch of intellects sitting far far away from the lands we are talking about, first assume that this doesn’t already happen and then assume that this is something good to take place. Also, fun?! Really? Would world bank give us billions to have FUN?!! We are talking about results here. Concrete results. Which would prove that money is put to good use. How would fun in classrooms achieve that? Unfortunately, that is the only way to achieve (whatever they want to achieve) and the only way we are too insecure to try out. No one knows how to do. Thats the second one. For those who tried, failed. Because of the reason below. The third problem.

Some say, education is the ticket to better lifestyle. Monetary. Spiritually. Sensibly. Ok, then let that be the evaluation quotient. Better lifestyle. So if you have fun in school, what difference does it make? School would be over one day and you enter big bad world which is not fun. Ok, then lets focus on apprenticeship model. You show them whats lie ahead. Well, that is precisely what happens. With a huge drop out rate in our education system, children work or remain jobless – which is a window to future.

When people say we should invest more in education, we should have more research, we should have this n that… I could hardly smirk. I feel like shouting and telling them to shut the fuck up. Just stop talking. Stop living for all I care.

I have lost all hope. I need a reason to move my ass, to be able to talk to people.

I am not going!

So basically in order to keep up with the latest fashion of getting sick every month resulting in frequent visits to toilets and chemist shops, I feel sick again just a week before the YHAI saurkundi pass trek. It came as an after effect of attending a wedding, which I was doing after a period long enough to make me feel guilty for missing family events, and of eating in Mainland China. I have developed a stronger distaste for weddings, if it is possible, and a little bit for Chinese food. Anyways, so as to avoid taking anti-biotics, which are in my usual medicine list now, I rested at home and didn’t go to office. As a result, I can’t take the two weeks leave for the trek. :( The worse part is that other people in the group are going. And the worst part is yet to come, when 3 weeks later I would get a mail with a link of uploaded photos from the trek, which initially I would simply ignore till the memories from the past conquers the envy n jealousy and I would just want to look at the awesome views from the Himalayas.

Just like fastest way of getting over one relationship is to get into another, to get over this tragedy I have started making plans for June. I just wish to be able to do my Field Attachment in SECMOL, an organisation in Ladakh which was once very activiely involved in educational reforms there: it is working on creating literature in Ladakhi (scripted in the Bodig script) and hopes to have Ladakhi medium in the primary classes one day with English as a language and then shift to English medium in later classes. Though in recent times, it has been involved in some controversies, but lets see if I can get some kind of research work there. It would be so much better to leave hot desert to go into a cooler one, especially in summers. Otherwise I hope to be able to go to APFs Policy Planning Unit in Bangalore where it would be raining and jungles filled with leeches. So I would be able to go to Kabini, Jog Falls and other places I missed last time and have a blood bath there! :D

Ah! Day dreaming! Anything to keep me from wishing evil for the Saurkundi pass trekkers..! ….

I sometimes fool myself by thinking that I could be a serious academician. I know I can never be one. I even choose my field work on the basis on weekend opportunities around the area!

Blues

Since past 3 weeks my days at work have been strictly following a pattern: 1,0, 1, 0, 1, 0 where 1represents ‘bad day’ and 0 ‘not so bad day’. On bad days, I find myself either not talking to any one in the office, or googling ‘how to cheer yourself up’! Let me write about today so far:

1) I reached school by 7:20 in morning, after 20 mins walk. There I had invigilator’s duty in exam in 6-12 school. There I was told I would not be required then but at 8:10 in 3-5classes school. So I used that time in rechecking the corrected copies of my classes. There I found, I had made innumerable total-ing mistakes! It was so painful to make 1-2 marks changes in copies, registers! Not just coz I had made such mistakes, but also the entire time I was reminded that I am in the same system where 1-2 marks also mattered. Where, no one bothers in terms of skills where the child stands, but whether he scored 65 or 72 out of 200. Coz that would determine whether he passes/fails.

2) When I went to the junior section 3-5, I felt like hitting a few teachers physically. There was a boy in my class who is v slow in writing, so his mother had accompanied him to the exam. She was helping him write faster. Every teacher coming to my class for some or other person would notice the child n mother and say the same thing to him- bachhe jaldi jaldi likha, tum bahut slow ho. I know we all have come across parents and teachers who have worked their best to deteriorate confidence of children, but typically we see as children grow into adults their opinion for themselves change. Hence, all this should not bother me much. Yet it does. Because, I am not an outsider. I am a part of that school, and directly interact with management of that school. But then, what’s the point of getting angry or frustrated with it. Coz honestly, I don’t even know what to do anything about it. Who am I to teach parents to trust their kids and teach them to trust themselves? When, except from my mom, I have never come across any parent who has exhibited this exceptional quality. Then I tell myself for the nth time not to get into pedagogic differences. Lets just strict to skills and cognitive development subject/age wise. Lets not get into issues of equality/justice/freedom within the classroom dynamics. But then english teachers can’t themselves speak 5-10 correct statements in english. They don’t know when to use do/is in a question: do you live here/are you live here. Talking about skills is a joke – at least at the level of teaching. And my organization keeps making materials for teaching – textbooks, handbooks, etc. They keep executing trainings where teachers come unwillingly, sit through the lectures and go home and forget 90% of what was said. No one even bothers to question all this.

3) I carry myself to office slowly. Data analysis work awaiting me. The same work being done over and over again. No one sure about why it is being done and how we ought to channelize it. This is how it is done: An interviewer collects the data from field. A codifier makes crude codes out of many responses (qualitative data) after reading all the filled questionnaires. The codes are re-coded over and over again on paper by experts. These codes are then mapped to excel sheets by computer person. The new codes are again checked by expert and re-coded codes given back to computer person, who BTW uses find-replace in excel to change each code’s value. (for eg is there were 30 codes, which represents 30 answers to a question, originally -> recoded to say 10 codes so that many a codes are clubbed together -> the computer person would find-replace the changed codes by new ones! and this process goes on…) Then frequency is found, and then correlations and accordingly recodification (by the same process).  Finally the database would be prepared. And a report would be written.

I can’t work like this. I do the computer work myself, I need data figures in front of me to make codes. And I hate re-work! But I am the odd one out. What do you do then? Especially when it is been a month since you have joined, and this work is being done since last many many months.

I try to pacify myself by saying, it is just day 0. Tomorrow would be day 1. Hopefully.

Is there any other practical suggestion?

Development

This post is being written mostly to help me frame some questions which are floating in my head in an unorganized fashion. So if you don’t understand even a word of it, please don’t mind.

Basically I am in that phase in life where “information”, for me, is knowledge and beyond. I am a sucker of info these days. I need to know what all is happening in the country (discounting north-eastern states, my apologies) in the field of elementary and secondary education and human resource development in general. For instance, I want to have a micro picture of what goes on inside a govt school in a remote village, in the different govt offices at cluster and block headquarters, at the district level, at the state level ministry and finally the MHRD at center and its other aiding bodies. Similarly, when I hear about the call centers working in remotest places possible in the country and praise about them, my antennas are activated.

Education is such a business which unfortunately can’t work independently in a way like Health does. I mean you can definitely say that an epidemic is bad coz it kills people. Good/bad is not so clear and distinct in the field of education. In Gujurat, good education is what gives one knowledge to run business. In Bihar, good education is what gets you into IAS. I m grossly generalizing here. But you get the point. More or less, from upper lower income to upper middle income groups, good education is the one which gets you a good job. Good job, in extension, generally means the one which allows you to have a good lifestyle. Ofcourse, good lifestyle is a personal call but these days we are finding it to be restricted to a certain kind of lifestyle more and more.

The picture I paint above is the factual reality. Now comes the dream I live in.

See, I was the youngest in my family. So perhaps as a kid I formed some notions in my head and people didn’t correct them thinking the notions to be just temporary. As a child, when I used to find my dad to be so tensed and kinda frustrated with his job as a bank manager I would feel very bad. One fateful day I sworn to myself that I wouldn’t do a job which I hate. I told myself that I would do something that everyday in the morning I would be excited to plunge myself into. Now, I was fortunate enough to be given every sort of help and facilities to fulfill my dream. Then, my dream became to help everyone,  who has a similar dream, achieve it. Again getting lucky, by the turn of events, I got into the field of education which is directly related to my old dream. I also found myself to be not alone. There were many like me, and many who were full time employed achieving it! Wow, I told myself.

Then I started to look around more. I found that these people like me were like a drop in the ocean. Because in factual reality education is more closely related to a culture than with individual aims and aspirations. Ofcourse, the latter are also influenced and shaped by the culture to an extent, but a lot of it also comes naturally to a person. For instance, I know many people who like curriculum development research work. They are damn creative and interesting people. They love to play with concepts in their subject field. There are other kind of people who implement the curriculum developed by the first kind in schools. These people are better at spreading and refining the research work, which needs different skill sets. Now if say, the culture regarded the first kind to be better, say in terms of, intellect or money or any other means, we might see more people going for it than for the second kind of work. Ultimately, if this gap between a person’s interest/ability/natural liking towards something and the kind of work s/he ends up coz of the cultural control over his/her decision making process, if this gap could be reduced by education then I would say to some extent we have achieved our purpose.

Now I started writing this blog because “development” is a word that puts me to unease. In education sector, a lot of work/reports/researches get passed in the name of development. Many, in fact most, NGOs or non-profit organizations get funding and lots of credit (which gets them more funding) on doing work which works in hand with what I called above as factual reality. Like BPOs running in remote villages, internet kiosks for rural development, schools running in under-developed regions on traditional models but producing good results in comparison to dysfunctional govt schools, village tourism and so on. I am in favor of any kind of work which helps people in any way, so I am not against any of these interventions I stated. What I am disappointed about is the path which is followed, everywhere, for development. I mean do we have to go through the same old way of first creating short term solutions which result in more chaos and wrong and then when we have reached an apex of chaos, order will automatically follow. Education is definitely meaningless if it doesn’t equip a person to earn his living and lead a life he wishes for. But then if education stifles his ability to dream and decision for himself in the process, what is left for achieving anyways?!

Suddenly..

sometimes so much happens in a day or two that we don’t even register the importance of those proceedings, which only later slowly dwell upon us. What all happened in last 2 days:

1)  Delhi trip on Diwali got cancelled. which means for the first time I would be away from home on diwali. (I am really senti about celebrating diwali at home with family)

2)  My efforts to come up with a diwali celebration in the campus didn’t work out. Junta wasn’t enthusiatic. And I realised there won’t be other great options outside campus of celebrating diwali either, which left me quite sad for myself.

3)  I was assigned two presentations for tomorrow on the day (today) which was scheduled to be a 11 hours working day with all stupid irrelevant (for me) presentations of visiting course advisors and other such sessions.

4)  I had been at my best behavior, in terms of sincerity, since last 10 days only to end up feeling foolish for being sincere! Really, I am incorrigable as far as sincerity is concerned and any attempts to change that is like wishing for fish to respire in air!

5)  My only roommate shifted and I was left alone in a six-seater dormitory without any chances of moving into a vacant double-seater or in another dorm with batchies. I don’t want to invest any more energy in making friends with strangers.

Well, thats the gist of it mostly. Though when I jot it down, it doesn’t seem such a bigadeal! :) Just that suddenly today I felt the pangs of loneliness again. Which were so far not there in this sem! And among all the fears I may have, the one which stands above all, is the fear of feeling lonely! Of course, that doesn’t stop me from wishing at times to be stranded on an island away from all humanity! :P For those who are confused by all this, kindly note, girls are considered to be complex beings! And I use this tag, just like the tag of female being a bad driver! It makes my life simpler.

Back in School

<Questioning Mode in a Student is switched on in a good education system>

 Man!! What the fk?!

What was I thinking?

Why did I get myself into something like this again..??

And this time, I did it completely on my own will…!

 Ok, guys don’t fill my comments box with gyan or sympathies… just my ever lasting love for dramatising things… but ya…

Why God, why..?!! Why are you doing this to me… ?

Yeh aawaz ander se nikal rahi hai….

PS: New crib mode starts..

At the end of the day

I often wonder about high achievers, about their never dying or even diminishing motivation, their constant struggle, their over-whelming (for impatients like me) patience, and their highly controlled-disciplined life. My only wonder is, how do they do it? Ofcourse, I am not looking for a traditional answer, the need to perform. I need a deeper analysis to get a satisfactory answer. Next question would, why do they do it?

I have been one of those who perform to prove once, not to maintain. Prove either to myself or somebody or many. Which means, I do almost all that the high-achievers do for a certain period of time, till I achieve it, and then phussssss… the balloon of energy/determination inflates. I don’t see a point in living in the control and freaky phase for too long. That’s why I personally give more importance to love for what you do than doing it for the sake of achieving something. To reach the state of perfection, I believe you need both the ingredients in certain proportion – you need to like what you do, and you need to be an achiever at heart (to carry you forward in those phases when your liking wavers). And if a high-achiever would say, this is exactly what we do, I would be tempted to believe him/her, but I won’t.

There is something missing in the equation. That’s because, I have seen myself, and I have seen many a times I do exactly that. I love doing what I am doing and I don’t rest until I get it all right. Until, I am satisfied about my job. Then there is a feeling of accomplishment, pride, satisfaction when I am done at the end of the day.

But, alas, the feeling dies as quickly as the soup bubble bursts. And then, I wonder. Here you would understand why I think about high achievers. I am sure for them, the feeling lasts.

I think about all those times when the feeling lasted for me. I realise, they were all those times which I spent not alone, but in company of someone. Family, friends, n strangers too in some cases. Three courses in psychology tell me, I probably have a higher need for affiliation then for achievement. It doesn’t tell enough to put out my probing. For it is a rather disturbing finding. No, I m not over ambitious, infact honestly, I don’t know if or not I m ambitious/highly-ambitious. But I know there are somethings in life that I wanna do. And I won’t be happy unless I do them.

The concern here is simple, all those things that I want to do, are meant to be done alone. And so I wonder, if I will give up without doing them/if I will again experience the bubbling satisfaction even if I carry out those activities. Because I realise that at the end of the day, the things of a totally different realm gives me a sound sleep or a sleepless night.

Jeevan ki vidambana..