While I was a happy, super confident chirpy girl in my childhood, I changed into a clumsy, quiet and unsure young adult as soon as I entered college. I had big trouble lifting my head and looking up at others. A huge blanket of shyness fell on me with such heaviness that I was convinced I must be the most stupid,incapable and unattractive person on the planet.
Compliments, if they came, made me cringe and want to hide. A part of me did see this anomaly in a person who loved the sky and dreamed of fierce independence and took to scooter riding at a time when there were few girls riding a scooter in a quaint town like Palakkad. (Well! that was the height of adventure, I could think of)
Yet, I swung between extreme feelings of inadequacies and my unsure attempts at breaking the shell somehow did not…
It as if it is not enough to strut and show his walk in style at home in the day time that Andrew, my cat decides to visit me in my dream.
The day was tough and the PhD looming large in my thoughts, I look to hit the sack as quickly as I reach home. Andrew, however meows seeking attention and demanding that he is taken out for a stroll. Once I open the door to the corridor, though, all he does is to flop on the floor and roll around and try his best to look cute!
Soon though, having impressed the onlookers of his handsomeness, he goes in search of some protein bites and likes to stroll the long corridors now emptied with the advent of the corona.
So, he struts his stuff,stops to check any opening, looks at the staircase as if he intends to ‘leave for Kashi’ for good but soon gallops home at the sound of any approaching footstep.
Safely inside, he watches carefully to see that the passersby are homed in their own spaces before coming out again to claim the corridors in the dead of the night,while simultaneously keeping an eye on my movements and intentions which he seems to read well in advance.
Now into his second year on the planet, Andrew is yet to meet his soulmate. Perhaps he doesnot know of such pleasures of living, which is to be blamed on the insensitivity of his family, who don’t let him out as he would wish to be.
A good friend of mine is very anxious of this gross injustice inflicted upon my boy and often suggests innovative and interesting match making events for the handsome cat that Andrew is.
Andrew though is quite the gentleman, mostly at least and I take pride is saying that he must take after his family.
Well, what I didnot expect Andrew to do is to ofcourse walk into my dream and not just mine, but my daughter’s as well on the same night, must be quite an attempt at manipulation by the young fellow. While I dreamt of saving Andrew from fire, my daughter dreamt of finding him at Mars, think of cats ruling us! really, I mean literally.
Anyways, as it looks to me that I will now have to get used to solitude again, Andrew should keep me in good company come day or come dreams!
Years of working with young people has taught me a lesson or two in dealing with them and bringing out the best.
I have realized that the mistake we do when we interact wit young people is that we underestimate their strengths and abilities. The cascading effect of our observation and feedback on the person’s performance as an adult or a teacher leaves a long lasting impact on the individual and then the class.
What. then is the best way to go about in training or teaching?
Set the bar high, really high.
I really mean this. The last semester we had a course on Design Thinking for the students. Students were supposed to work on projects of their choice in groups of 6-10. As the groups set out to work, I said, ‘This very classroom in which you are seated now, has witnessed some very good presentations by your seniors. In fact, there were times when I was propelled to my feet out of sheer enthusiasm generated by the excellence of the presenter. I am sure you can do that too maybe even try and out do your seniors.’
As the days went by and it was time for evaluation, I was more than impressed when the students carried a huge apparatus to the classroom. They had been working on it for weeks together, they said. They met after class hours, pulling themselves out of their comfort zones to bring out a miracle.
I was staggered in surprise and shock and was absolutely speechless.
What could I say to such ingenuity, to such a show of sheer grit and hard work?
As the students carried the working model of a car to the class, they said that everyone on the corridor wanted to know what is that really?
It made them feel proud they said.
You really pushed us to outdo ourselves, mam, they said simply.
Surely, it was not me but their team spirit and enthusiasm that won the day so much that I was compelled to propose the idea of hosting an exhibition of Design Thinking and Team Building and the enthusiasm it created in the student community, re-emphasized to my mind the thought that the higher you aim, the higher you fly.
To the sheer strength of spirit and joy of creative inquiry, three cheers!!!