If you live a life like I do, you will know one never really fails - only pivots.
So it is and I am in the middle of one now. To be sure, I am well into it: The difference between a pivot and a failure is whether one gets started at all, and I have done. And, as I have started feeling comfortable in my new skin, it's time to write about it.
Indeed, it must be written about, as I have just been weighed down by this massive writers' block, the very thing I wanted to avoid through blogging, and that's because I was ending one life and beginning another. It was a bit of crazy time too, over the last few weeks, with a perfect storm of deadlines, with my course of studies in History of Ideas coming to an end and my work on Education Technology going through a period of approvals and validation. So, I was writing, a lot, but all of that was out of urgent compulsion and not out of any creative urge.
So, there is more than one reason to start writing again, and to write about a fresh start is a perfect pretext. This would perhaps put the subsequent posts in the context, as I am expecting that I shall continue on this (slightly) different path for some years to come and will keep writing about it.
One more thing: In this blog, I have, more than once, promised to do 100-day projects to change my life, and, usually, these projects frittered away after 30, 40 or 50 days. It was useful, having a definite timescale focused my mind and helped me exert myself, but writing about usually dissipated that initiative. While my intention was to cheer myself up through the rather lonely process of change, writing about it made me feel as if I have already accomplished the things I wished to accomplish. I came to realise while checklists help in focusing minds on goals, narratives about goals usually weaken resolve, creating a false sense of fulfilment.
So, this time around, I am writing about the change after the first hundred days, rather than as I go through the experience. But it is still worth talking about, as what I have learned here - re-learned would be the correct expression - would define how I proceed from this point on.
The key thing I learned is that the reality of my immigrant existence is that I am better off projecting specific technical skills than my overall experience or exposure. I did learn this once when I came to England, and suddenly, I had to reassess my skills through the prism of a completely new labour market reality. As I have recounted elsewhere, my transition to the new labour market was a self-initiated one - I did not come to England for work or for study, but rather came on my own accord to find a new life - and therefore, I had to live through mistakes and discover what skills would sell. That time, I discovered that my Indianness gives me an inherent advantage in IT professions, and though I have done various things in life, and can do different things with reasonable competence, sticking close to the technology base works well for me.
However, that message was lost on me as I grew familiar and gained different experiences internationally. Those allowed me to see my limitations and my abilities at the same time and I grew more ambitious. This led me to try starting up, which was really an offshoot from a project I started at my college work: While this gave me an enormous exposure, including the deep experience of China business, this was one cycle where I was not thinking much of my realities of being an immigrant and being outside the social circles that sustain such entrepreneurship. I almost overlooked the realities of immigrant life and my fall-back options.
This is the cycle I wanted to end now and rediscover some of my core skills. And, I got lucky too - with some work in the digital transformation in an organisation with a rich trove of intellectual property and a thriving network of member organisations coming my way. The people I worked with were very different from me, and this provided an exceptional opportunity for me both to learn and to make a contribution. It was like a 100-day boot camp ironing out my lack of attention to detail under the very able supervision and a hardcoded framework, as well as ample opportunities to develop a strategic perspective and develop a new portfolio of language (that of engineering and safety) and work practices. More importantly, I have been doing production work for e-learning and refreshing my knowledge of hands-on scripting so that we can implement an all-new virtual learning system.
At this time, after the 100 days, I am at a moment of clarity. The work in learning technology proves to be that magic combination of something that I am reasonably good at and want to do, and there is market demand for it. This allows me to think differently about my developmental goals too: I am back doing technical work - after a gap of twenty years or so - and finding it exceedingly interesting. My various experiences, of running businesses, fund-raising, teaching and strategising, are proving to be very handy, as I can approach technical issues in learning with multiple perspectives at the same time. I am now committed to this path, for at least a year and perhaps more, and expect this blog to reflect more and more of a different kind of journey.
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
In our age, the only way to be politically correct is to be democratic. This is a post-70s affair - those days, still, some people had alternative ideologies in mind. Those alternate ideas are dead and gone, long discredited, and it seems that we have only one system which can make people happy, free and live longer. So, we have this huge export industry of democracy, and democracy's warriors, which the American security establishment has lately become. The democracy's businessmen, the bond traders, the media barons and the Hollywood types, are feted everywhere. The consensus is deafening and dumbing. It is indeed awkward to ask now - whether democracy is the right system for every society. It indeed should be. Collective wisdom is better than individual autocracy. In societies where democratic elections have been few and far between, the popular vote has demonstrated the extra-ordinary political savvy of the usually disinterested masses. Democracy has proved to be an excell
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.