Sunday, March 23, 2014

Random Act of Kindness

I was at Powai lake the  other day for a meeting with my manager. (Yes, we do have occasional meetings at places of our choice to set the a mood suitable for the nature of the discussion)  After the meeting, I was taking a walk along the lake while watching the sunset. I hadn't eaten anything after lunch so I was hungry. I couldn't find any place nearby despite searching. I saw an old Sardarji and his friend eating a vada paav. The Sardarji was on his phone while his friend was waiting for him to finish the conversation. I asked his friend from where he got the vada paav. He gave me directions to the place. I thanked him and was about to walk towards the place when the sardarji indicated to me to wait. I decided I will respectfully wait. When he finished, he told me "Son, that place is far. You will have to walk around 10 minutes. If you are hungry, you can take one of our vada paav as we have got extra ones." I politely refused and told him I was anyway walking in that direction to meet a friend. He smiled and told me "Have a good evening."

We had met for the first time and yet he offered to help. Him choosing to do so despite having no vested interest in me put a smile on my face. It is surprising how I unintentionally miss out on many opportunities through the day to make someone's day memorable.

A small deed of kindness only asks for a large heart. No money. No gifts. Just the act of wanting to make a difference. I will keep that in mind henceforth.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Vote of Thanks

My first year of the fellowship is almost nearing an end. It has been one crazy roller coaster ride with its share of highs and lows. I have too many things on my mind and I am hoping by writing them down, I will free up some much needed mind space for other equally important things.

Showing gratitude was one of my new year resolutions. I want to end the year by thanking everyone (or everything) who (which) has helped me see this through. In no specific order, I would like to acknowledge:
  • My students, Mehak and Aliya, for constantly showing me the mirror and setting high expectations of me in the classroom - whether it is in my conduct or in my effort.
  • My students, Muzammil and Awesh, for making me see that permanent change has no easy fixes.
  • My students, Alfiya and Farheen, for making me believe that transformation is possible and there is a leader in each of us that is waiting to be discovered.
  • My students, in general, for all the love and for providing me the toughest challenge of my life.
  • BJ, for demonstrating leadership against all odds and showing the value of relationships.
  • Harry, for all the free hugs and making us feel at home, wherever we are.
  • Pritish, for the passion he has shown for kids beyond the classroom and the courage with which he has spoken for the betterment of the kids.
  • Akriti, for showing me how you can build the sense of independence in kids.
  • Neerja, for all the craziness and for genuinely working harder than she ever has.
  • Suman, for being at the "forefront of a revolution" and being an incredible ideator.
  • Piyali, for being the ocean of calmness and for being the confidante she is.
  • Jigar, for being whoever we have wanted him to be, whenever we have asked.
  • Nicky, without who, I would be a fraction of the teacher I am today.
  • Pallavi, for letting me follow my dreams and for zealously following her own, despite the distance.
  • Niki, for being a silent supporter and never questioning my priority for the classroom.
  • Mom and Dad, for taking interest in my work, giving me my own space to grow and paying for my trip to Europe!
  • All my grandparents, for managing when I have not been able to be there for them.
  • Rekha aunty and Seenu Uncle, for seeking to understand. 
  • Priyanka and Varuna, for the time of my life that I have taken away from them.
  • Ankita and Amal, for not letting the distance drive the course of the friendship.
  • Shalmalee, for always reminding me that excellence is not relative.
  • Paras and Vinny, for taking risks and making me believe I am not alone.
  • Nanda, without who my house would become a junk yard.
  • An ex-boss, for being the egoist who  helped strengthen my decision to take a different life path and whose memory still keeps me going.
  • The terrorists of 26/11, who made my city bleed and fueled in me an anger that became an inspiration.
  • Paris, for making me believe in a way of living and thinking that I didn't believe could exist.
  • Berlin and especially the Museum of the Murdered Jews of Europe, for reminding me the importance of not forgetting, yet moving on (how relevant this has been to the history of Jafari!!!).
  • Mumbai, for helping me find my own feet.
  • Nature, especially the Himalayas and the Western Ghats,  for re-fueling my mental energy reserves whenever I am drained.
  • The Intouchables and Queen (movies), for making me relive the sense of freedom I want my students to experience.

Song on my mind:

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Delicate Balance

I had a very forgettable day at school yesterday. Somehow everything seemed to be falling apart in school. Our classes which are otherwise the more disciplined ones were have their off days.I discovered some students who were leaders in the class had chosen to be dishonest. Some others had chosen to not show respect to their team members and some even to their teachers. I was mighty upset at how I realized progress in the classroom was just a delusion I was living in. And in my frustration, I did end up showing my anger to my kids.

I came back home. I decided against calling parents of kids who I had chastised for an update and give myself time to process information with clarity. I chose to take the evening off. Thankfully, my friend was here from Delhi. I did speak a lot with her about the state of things. While our conversations were not necessarily restricted to the classroom, I could connect back a lot of what we spoke back to my students.

Both of us decided to watch Queen the next morning and headed straight for the movie after breakfast. While the movie left me feeling very optimistic, throughout the auto ride from the theatre, I kept thinking about the amount of work there was left in the class and how I have let procrastination get the better of me in the last two months.

I could give many reasons for procrastinating - physical and emotional fatigue, excessive socializing due to planned and mostly unplanned visits by friends, rework due to the lack of understanding of where the kids were academically and more than the usual household commitments. All these reasons are justified, considering it is as important to sustain myself and my social life as it is to be committed and persevere towards excellence. But in the struggle to balance both my own well being and my professional goals, I favoured my personal wellbeing more  in the last 3 months than my professional goals, which I have always chosen otherwise.

Did I do something wrong? Definitely, no. Did I have an alternative? Probably, yes. Did I make time to find the alternative? No, I just tried working harder and that had a contrary effect on my own health. What am I going to do about it now? I will make up for it by executing a supremely well planned strategy for my time with the kids post summers.

I have always looked into the mirror more than I look through the magnifying glass. I have always been hard on myself. I took a break from being that for the first time in many years. While it lasted, it did feel good. However, mediocrity leaves a bad aftertaste.