Showing posts with label reflections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reflections. Show all posts

Friday, May 04, 2018

Shit academics shouldn't do

There are a lot of things that academics do. Not all of them are cool. Here are a few advises for academics. For a better academic, for a better world.
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  1. Have a bath at least once a day.
  2. If you don't have a bath everyday, don't go and sit in public places where others are bound to go. Example, your laboratory. You are making your lab mates' life hell by sitting next to him/her emanating your stench. He/she can't or won't tell you that you stink. But be sensitive and wash yourself for god's or devil's sake!
  3. Learn how to use the washroom. All humans poop and pee. But all of us who live with others must learn to flush and make sure that your shit doesn't antagonize others. If you can't do that, what bloody research are you capable of doing? Grow up!
  4. Learn and respect traffic rules. You are part of a law abiding society. So you ought to abide by some rules. For example, if someone is crossing the road, you need to stop and wait. If there is no space, you ought to wait before overtaking. If you want to die, please do. But don't kill someone else with your carelessness on the road.
  5. No one will scold you for being introvert and spending time alone. Therefore, if you can't brush your teeth, do not get too close to people to share your intellectual gems. Realise that your mouth stinks.
  6. Please respect public property. This includes water, furniture, infrastructure, electricity and food. You don't get extra credits on your score card for leaving an open tap in the toilet or running air conditioner in the laboratory. Conserving energy makes you feel good. Try it. 
Overall, be nice to others.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Lesson on How to Stand in a Queue from Kanpur

This morning, at the petrol pump inside IIT Kanpur.

I joined the 'queue' to fill petrol in my bike. (Queue means a group of people crowding around the pump. The sequence of priority doesn't exist- might is right!

Image from Here (representational image only)
One fellow pulls up and squeezed his way through the queue and positions himself in front of my bike!

I said to him in stern, serious voice: "Please stand in the queue."

He looked at me as if I said something in Greek and said: "Ye jagah apka hi hai." (This place is yours.)

I remained quiet since he sounded apologetic. But when my turn to fill petrol came, he just squeezed in and filled petrol!

Now, what should I have said? According to Kanpur Style Manual (latest edition), I should have abused him verbally and thrashed him if I had time. But me being a Malayali kept quiet and mentally lamented about the yogi-run state's lack of respect for the other.

Here in Kanpur, you are elite if you can squeeze your way through the rush. You are considered respectable if you can kick others' asses and be the first in the queue. You are a heroine/hero if you can abuse someone louder and dirtier than your rival. Yes what the yogi said is right. We Malalayees need to learn a lot from UP: from how to run schools, hospitals and governments, to how to stand in a queue! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Saying Goodbye to RKV (RGUKT-RK Valley)

Three splendid years of 'RKV'ing!

Three years! What did you do?

Nothing much. Went around a 350 acre campus, met a lot of sweet, intelligent, wonderful, ambitious and innocent students, spoke to them in class rooms and on roads, smiled, laughed, watched movies and documentaries together, tried to inspire and got inspired! Had discussions and debates on serious and stupid issues. But, I made friends with thousands.

It was a great experience to be at RKV. All the negativities apart, at this moment of departure, I would like to look at the brighter side of past three years. It was great indeed.

I'm sure I would never get such innocent and fresh students anywhere else in my life. The students of RKV are the best I have ever encountered- I can vouch for that. Not only are they talented, but also creative on both sides of the brain. It is true that some students are distracted by the infatuations of teen-age. But that apart, they are wonderful. Their minds are the 'tabula rasa' (clean slate) of Aristotle literally. A teacher can make an impact if s/he wants to.

My interactions with students were based on the concept that  students are learners who can learn on their own if the teacher provided a kind of structural opportunity or scaffolding. I am not sure how much I succeeded- my students have to judge. But I found that students at least 'tried' to do what I asked them to do. At least a few of my students made 'speaking English' a habit. And that is what makes me happy.

After three years of 'RKV'ing, when I walk on the roads of this campus, I get more smiles than I can handle. I guess one reaps what one sows! Sometimes a hundred fold! I care to give a smile to whoever cares to receive one. That establishes a human relationship. I believe in the adage 'If the person you meet doesn't have a smile, give her/him one of yours'.

My faculty friends and neighbours of RKV are family to me. Each one of them in their individual style has cared for, helped, and expressed concern and love at the times I most needed them. Without mentioning names I would like to feel grateful to all of them: those who cooked for me, those who substituted me, those who gave a consoling word, those who visited with kindness, those who smiled, and those who stood with me in my difficult times.

I started my family here at RKV. My wife- the sweetest person I have ever known- stood by me in my struggles. We stood the test of times together. We protected and strengthened each other when life put us through tough oddities. I owe her a lot! When she joined me here, we were a nascent family! The people of RKV helped us make life meaningful and joyful.

Finally, I should not end this by not mentioning the hills of RKV. The fortress that burns, fans and freezes RKV. You stupid hills have given me a tough time. You have burned me in summers and froze me in winters. The little rains you managed, helped to drench mind and body. Everyone might go away, but You will remain. You won't be forgotten!

It's time to leave RKV. Like I said in the beginning, I am not talking of the negativities of this place. It would take ever! Better things are there to invest my thoughts on. Like the sunshine of early mornings. Like the dew of winter nights. Like the gales of July nights. Like the milkman who says 'thanqe' every morning. Like the old, panting, noisy APSRTC bus that visits us twice a day. Like the proud honking of CGR. Like the '25-seating capacity' of RKV auto rickshaws. Like the monkeys that took mangoes from my house and dirtied my corridor. Like the laughter and cries of new born babies at the staff quarters. Like the tomato rice mess mornings and tough chappathi canteen evenings. Like the ten-Rupee mango from the fruit vendor. Like the Saturday WAT-CAT rushes. Like the never ending, ever-going-on construction work. Like the graffiti on the walls of our class rooms. Like the lone student couples stealing a word or two on the corridors. Like the candid attempts to copy in the exams. Sheer joy. All of these provided sheer joy. I can go on with the list for ever. Three years have filled me with such positivity.

Then why am I leaving the campus? Oh! That's a tough one to answer. You see, in life, I am a traveler. I like to explore fresher pastures and experience newer things. Yes, it is a risk. But without reasonable risks, no life progresses. I have to grow and improve myself. I have to equip myself for greater challenges. RKV is too comforting that it sometimes fails to offer a challenge or a threat that makes you grow. So I move out and try my luck. May be, I will feel bad about it. But for now, I a feeling excited, because I am challenged.

Dear RKV, dear administrators, dear co-faculty, dear staff, dear families, and DEAREST STUDENTS, I will miss you all greatly.

Wednesday, 15.07.2015

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The man who was silent

He was always there. For everything, for everyone. No one felt his presence, because he was there, everywhere, for every need and reason. He turned a deaf ear to his own needs, so he could be available for those of others. A man of all seasons. A man who joked, laughed, smiled, wept, sat by, hugged, begged, loved and lived. No one noticed him because he was always there.

Then one day, suddenly, he stopped being there. Everyone who were used to his presence soon felt him- that he was absent, that he was not there by their side, that he was no more. He made his presence felt, with his absence. But while he could have, he didn't care to make himself prominent.

This truly is what a man can be. To be remembered is what one can achieve the most with one's life. He did it. Through silence. Through suffering. Through smiles that covered up tears. Through laughter that overshadowed sorrows. A man for others. My father- O M Mathews. 'MY' father.

O M Mathews
09.09.1948 - 31.12.2013

When he went away, I was left alone, standing on a cliff in the middle of an ocean of unknown faces. I felt the fall, but didn't care. The shock that crawled into my bones remained till the ocean waves screeched into my ears. Soaked in salty moisture on the cheeks I headed towards the shore, to see if he was still there, waiting with the usual warm hug and smile.

I couldn't see him. He wasn't there on the shore. There were only a few faces with no souls behind. Walking shadows. All of us, walking shadows. Soon we realized that the persons that we were, were not completely ours. Something was missing from our beings. Something was missing now. As for me, the fact that he is not there has not sunk into my understanding. My father, cannot not be. He should 'be'. There is no alternative.

Then I saw him. He was motionless. The radiance of his face had faded, but not the power of that smile that hid sorrows behind. The smile was kept behind a glass cage and it would never fade. Symbolism has to tell us that he cannot not be. And that, that being is not similar to my being now. So far, his presence was present, but from now on, his presence will be his absence. How strange! Life has to play all these scenes to me!

Later when that smile was taken down under the earth and I too threw a handful of frankincense and sand down into his grave. I found another fact- that the self that I have is not mine as I thought. I am a part of him. The way I speak, walk, react, think, live... Everything. My tears told me again and again that he is still here. And I realized that this is how he could still BE. Through me. I am him now.

I pray that I can embody what he was, so that he never dies. May god bless his soul.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Smiles that matter

Walk the road you always walk
Kick the same tin can, you always kick
Wear the same looks that mark you as you
But smile all the while if you want to be different.

Smile is all that matters- want to know why?
Come with me to the city; look at the slum and huts
Poor; still you see joy- fizzing life, bubbling fun
All they have is smiles; and joy is born of smiles.

Try wearing a smile from wake to sleep
Try giving everyone a smile every time you look
Try a smile when all attempts fail in procedure
Smile into joy; see what you get in return.

Smile is an ID card- gives you access everywhere
Acceptance guaranteed if you give one of your smiles
Keep a few always in your heart; so you can give one
to the needy; believe me its contagious.

Smile away as you walk in and away
Smile while you can, 'cos you can't once you are away
'Cos Smile is what matters.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Forty days and forty nights

Its forty days. And forty nights. Feels like its forty years. But to count, its just forty days and forty nights. Just over a month. Spread over my mental landscape like a barren desert with distant oases- forty days and forty nights. Forty countable time periods… just forty of them. But if you count the drops of tears that I shed during those forty… I am left with no words to recount what they were for me. But there is a swelling within which always threatens to explore. A swelling so full of pain, agony, love and loneliness. So life-like I guess. I listen to Lionel Richie, Hariharan… and go down into the abyss of reflection about my state.

When I get up in the morning, I ask myself- ‘what's next?’ There’s no answer I know. But what if there is… Forty mornings have heard this question, but none heard its answer.

The forty were spent on trains, buses, dingy lodge rooms, red hot Hyderabad streets, cheap hotel tables, verandas of old buildings, at the ends of long and never ending queues, and lost in thoughts about what is the meaning of all these… Whenever I turned around hearing a ‘no’ or a ‘sorry’, I went back into thoughts about meaning. Of late, I wonder if I am searching for a job or meaning…

In one of my literature classes there were discussions of meaning making, and life as a process of meaning making. Now I understand what it all meant. It is true. Life is meaning making. Whenever I went down the narrow fissure of despair, there came a voice from within that told me to wait till the meaning is revealed. A long wait for a revelation- LIFE.

But it sucks to learn that its not easy to wait indefinitely. While you wait at a hotel table, you know your food is being cooked. When you wait in the railway booking queue, you know your turn is this far. But when you wait for meaning, you don’t know till when or if at all! That’s what sucks…

Once, in a cave-like lodge room in Ernakulam, I was amazed by the dedication with which scores of mosquitoes kept on trying to suck me dry of my blood. I wondered why I lack that kind of enthusiasm about my own life. Then I realized that whatever happened to me was the outcome of what I have within. There is nothing unexpected and unplanned in life. Even death and accidents could be expected and planned. One should be prepared for anything. One should be prepared to attempt till one’s prey is sucked dry of blood- just like those Ernakulam mosquitoes.

So its forty days and forty nights now. Forty days and forty nights of itinerant existence, address-less-ness, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Today, sitting in the chill and heights of my room, I can see these forty days and nights laid out like a collage on the busy streets and tall buildings around. Dark and bright, they hold up their ups and downs for me to see. Forty pieces of them. Forty pairs of them. One for each day and night. I can hear people, smell spoilt food, see frowns and smiles of people I love/d on those forty pieces of collage- sort of jigsaw puzzle I would say. From this height, I can see they take a shape… a definite shape of something which I can’t make out… Probably I will have to wait. For another revelation of kinds.. I am reminded of my literature class again, and the sweetest of all teachers I had… Unfolding meaning. Meaning making. LIFE.

Yes, I realize. It is life. The unfolding. The revelation. LIFE. Life in a crucible of love, pain and loneliness. That’s what it is- Life in forty days and forty nights.