Sunday, June 17, 2012

Reflections Before The Morning Tea

The morning milk van rattles down the road. Almost simultaneously, my bedside alarm-clock rings its shrill reminder of the harsh realities of life. The effect is jarring on the nerves and unaesthetic to the senses. Nevertheless, it executes my swift transfer from the world of dreams to that of the reality (I have this cat-mouse relationship with this term 'reality' - I catch and play with it, with the intention of destroying it; the reality, however, always escapes my grasp).

I put on the electric kettle, pull a chair to the balcony and settle down, ritualistically waiting for the whistle. Like always, I covet this five-minutes interlude before yielding to the pragmatic compulsions of living. The routine of living, I have always felt, Life betrays living, and these few unaccounted moments have always offered some compensation.

I try to decipher the morning sun through the smoky vomit of the factories of the suburbs. The sun looks pale and seems to be disparately trying to disentangle itself from the shadows of industrialization. In one of my pagan moods, I have often found it embarrassed and ill-at-ease about its waning glory. When my progenies grow up, I reflect philosophically, their reality of the sun would be different from mine. I think about generation-specific experiences, and the creation of conditioned meaning by the forces of history.

Down below are the slums, the dwellings of people who are less equal than the others. According to the census, these people live below poverty line. In terms of my reality, they live below my balcony, across the road, and their quality of life eludes the economists' charts, graphs and numbers. I wonder about these people's experience of life and its meaning. Or maybe for them, the necessities of living have altogether done away the concepts of meaning and purpose. Perhaps, it is too painful and humiliating for them to ponder over the purposes and meanings while living amidst the starving squalor of the slums.

I shudder and guiltily escape by looking at the aged, retired morning-walkers on the street. They look tragically serious in their morning drill, moving with purposeful strides, as if trying to keep pace with life that keeps slipping away. I feel that these people do not actually like walking. They do not enjoy the cool morning breeze, the tranquil loneliness of the roads, the gradual, almost mythological awakening of life and humanity in the city. Rather, they walk because they are, by nature, consumers, and want to barter health and longevity for their morning exercises…

The kettle whistles me back to the mediocrity of the routines. I get up to mechanically have my tea while shaving, and glancing through the newspaper. Then I'll get ready, and go through the programmed actions of catching the bus, reaching the office and so on…. till the bedside alarm once again wakes me up tomorrow morning.

- Sometime in 1980-81, Bhopal

Friday, June 15, 2012

Each meeting - a new life; Each parting - a small personal death

Each meeting -
a new life;
Each parting -
a small personal death...
...a loss,
of a part of myself,
a lonely vaccuum
demanding to be filled up.

But then,
is only a bump
on the road -

It shakes me up,
brings it back to me...
I am on a journey....

- 1987, Jaipur

Friday, June 08, 2012

... on being a "management professional"

Some years back - 25-yrs on into the “management profession” – I gradually realized three things:

  • 1. the term “management school” got hijacked by “business school” during last couple of decades in India. This critically reduced the scope of what the “management professionals” can do in terms of managing/leveraging resources to make a meaningful contribution to society

  • 2. other “professionals”, e.g., doctors, lawyers, etc., remain professionals even when they move out of their chambers (you still ask for their advise when you meet in a party, etc.)… but not so with “management professionals” – they become just like any ordinary citizens, once they move out of their chambers/ narrow corporate campus/roles

  • 3. besides the two meanings of “profession” – (1) mastery over certain specialized skills or body of knowledge, and (2) membership to a community who possess those skills or knowledge – the fundamental and distinctive meaning of the term “profession” (and specially in the context of people-focused helping professions) revolves around the self-acknowledged “public/social role” of the professional. The term “profess” is made up of the Latin prefix pro, which means "forward," or "into a public position," and fess, which derives from the Latin fateri or fass and means "to confess, own, acknowledge."…i.e., the original meaning of profession is "a personal form of public acknowledgment." OR being a professional is public role

    … this realization raised some soul-searching questions – and led to a course called Intro to Social Entrepreneurship..