Today is the first day of rest of my life. I have written this line before, and write it again now. This quote, whoever it is from, is some kind of tag line that describes how I live fairly well.
It is true that I feel like being at an inflection point. I have lived far too long in a survival mode, licking my wounds for a past adventure and unsure of when and what I should embark on next. As it always comes with failure, I had the endless re-run of the past in my mind - if only I did that - but also what Emily Dickinson would call 'precarious gait', experience, that told me I am not ready yet.
But, then, one is always ready. The sense of failure that I describe, a combination of re-runs and caution, is too attached to living a past life. Life, however, is lived forwards, and the secret of being ready, as this very moment signify, is to stop living what has been lived, and start living what is to be lived from this point on. This is not about wiping out any memory, but recognising the memory and moving on.
The biggest gift that comes with such recognition is indeed the clarity of freedom. And, freeing myself fully from the past failure also frees me from this tortured sense of survival that I lived with, all of last two years, and, all of a sudden, recognise the promise of what may lie ahead and see what I do today as a building block of that future. And, this change, all within myself, without a single drop of rain touching the earth or a new plant sprouting, is as significant and world-changing as any transformation to rewrite the world history could be, in the private world that I build for myself.
So much for that, but this is why I write this. I always wanted to keep this blog as my Commonplace Book, the nineteenth century practice of keeping a scrapbook of ideas, but of late, I have been forced - forced because I was just surviving - to turn this into some kind of professional billboard, projecting to show off 'thought leadership', despite my distaste for the expression as it claims to turn 'thought' into property and a game of oneupmanship, and not, as I believe, a shared opportunity to be human.
This freedom, then, returns me to banter, to write as it comes, to bare my feelings and to write without expectations. This writing without restraint, showing off my deepest inconsistencies and vulnerabilities, is the opposite of the polished pretence of thought leadership. However, I would deny that this is some kind of release, 'transference' of own hope and frustration into a public display, a sort of massive game of virtual sympathy. It is rather for me a conversation, one with many, the kind of connection I sought out when I started writing at all and chose a blog to be my platform: It is reaching out, not to anyone in particular, but the metaphorical human soul, to everyone, and to everytime.
In a sense, this act itself defines the very breaking point that it seeks to describe. Stopping by - no woods or snowy evening here, but a just a sunny, warm, suburban spring morning - I steal a moment to recognise I have no time to stop and look back, but just chart a new path ahead. That failure that may have marked my past would not define my future; the meekness and indecision that I lived with in the present should not depress or cloud what I do in the future.
In practical terms, what this means that I stop being an entrepreneur. This has been my quest of the past, and I sure tried as intently as possible. But the quest of that label obscured to me the variety and multiplicity of human enterprise. This life-form, endowed with gloamour in modern imagination, somewhat dominated my thinking and ruled out the other possibilities that existed before me. As I claim to be innovative and imaginative, refused, in search of authenticity and happiness, the boring idea of becoming a company man, the accepted role-model of my childhood world of suburban Calcutta. However, while I wanted, and chose, to be different, that label itself became conventional, a straightjacket ruling out all other possibilities of living a life of making a difference, replacing excitement for authenticity, glamour for understanding and in the end, an all-purpose illusion to destroy the creative possibilities.
This is not just about my entrepreneurial failure though: I tried and failed to make money, true. But I overlooked, in the process of my sulking, the variety of ways I lived, all those small acts of difference that extracted me from the constricted world of limited possibilities to now, when, by the very act of being able to start again, I authenticate myself. This apparently meaningless blog, spreading over 10 years and more than 1600 posts, worthless in terms of entrepreneurship as it never made money (though that is not true) but an essential enterprise, a building block of what I am, a signature of my progress. The obsession with entrepreneurial reward may have been obscuring all these other possibilities that were open to me.
Like, being a teacher. Or, taking writing seriously. Or, doing something I have always wanted to do, to study history. Or, just to up anchor and being a nomad. True, all these need sacrifices, compromises, reining in one desire or another, but what determines the worth of anything. And, this is indeed true enterprise - balancing desires and making sacrifices to achieve the one true goal! However much one may take to heart the Silicon Valley slogan of making a dent in the universe, one that I clung to since I came across it in the 1990s, it is a woolly dream not to recognise that this is a product of a given setting at a given time, and spending my life in the elusive quest of such may have the real risk of becoming empty sloganeering, which it indeed may have become, or worse, ruling out other possibilities of enterprise, like setting up a small school that really makes a difference to a small local group of people but never scale to change the world, that could endow a deep meaning to life.
Therefore, 1 of 100: I set myself on a hundred days plan to change. This is not about starting another business, which I conspire to do all too often, but to go back studying history and writing meaningfully, building connections and friendships with an altogether new world of people who are very different from the world of business that I have lived in so far, and accepting the compromises that signal I shall perhaps never become an entrepreneur.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Reli
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
India's employment data is sobering ( see here ). The pandemic has wrecked havoc and the structural problems of the economy - service sector dependence, uneven regional development and health and education challenges - are more evident than ever. Something needs to happen, and fast. To its credit, the government acknowledges the education challenge. Belatedly - it took more than 30 years - India has come up with a new National Education Policy. It is a comprehensive policy, which covers the whole spectrum of education and perhaps overcompensates the previous neglect by advocating radical change. As I commented elsewhere on this blog, it shows a curious mixture of aspirations, cultural revival and global competitiveness put under the same hood. However, despite its radical aspirations, the policy document often betrays same-old thinking. One of these is India's approach to foreign universities. The NEP makes the case for allowing foreign universities to set up operations in Ind
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.