Monday, March 17, 2014

Thank you, again

It was Friday, last Friday.

And it was more than not getting time to trace the misplaced bank pass book and cheque book and pleading for a bearer cheque from issuer. Had to do that twice last week as was not getting even 2-3 hours of time for myself. Yes, that is the estimated time for me to trace a misplaced article, if I am lucky enough!

There was a list of works-to-do in my hand where I am to serve others in various capacities. Started with tracks which are well-known to me and treaded before, to move to more difficult terrain later. Updated NSS, IIT Kharagpur blog reporting the activity of our student-conducted Thalassemia detection camp (Link). Then updated NSO Health and Fitness blog with activity pic.s of previous three sessions (Link).

On roll and concentration in place, started the more difficult one of the work. In this, I had to get deeper into twenty-seven high stake activities of our researchers and their collaborators and prepare for a Saturday meeting at Kolkata.

There was a one hour meeting at 12 noon with a guest from abroad. There was another important meeting in the Dept. in the afternoon. And I might get a call for preparation on it. What to do? Sent a mail to ever-indulging faculty colleagues that it is one of those days for me when I feel like putting up a 'Do-Not-Disturb' noticeboard.

But phone call came. At about 11 AM. From senior faculty of the Dept. My first sentence, even before hearing anything, was a cry - "Cannot go. On a very important, time-critical work. Please." But I was told, "You have to come, there is no choice."

And I understood.

Thank you. Thank you all, once again. Though I was hearing it for sometime in sidelines and there was unofficial congratulations too, this was the official letter.

But had no time to celebrate or give quality response to congratulatory messages. Completed official formalities in 15 minutes. In a quick stop-over at lab., told research students that it is for their hard work. Said the same to my first PhD student replying his mail.

Told mother. She was happy but no apparent exuberance as had always been the case for my parents. What is more important is what you see of yourself and how best you perform your service. Recognition is welcome but not something to get swayed by that (Link).

Her Highness and daughter are taking inter academic-year break and are away at in-law's place. None perhaps has the courage enough to put a timer in a conversation with the better half. But they have the ability. May be the modulation in voice, the height and spread of the words uttered, give a clue. Came a rebuff. It is not necessary to call as routine stuff. Please call when you have time, even if it means after 2-3 days! It always helps to plead guilty before a forgiving Her Highness and it worked again. She said that she would talk at length after Saturday meeting.

Previous Friday received an invitation card for International Women's Day event. Was involved in some way with it as women from neighbourhood villages were to participate. Gave the card to Her Highness and said that there would be speakers like Smt. Alakananda Roy, Mata Divyapremanandaprana, Smt. Bharati Ghosh etc. and if she would like to attend. Came a prompt reply. Would go if the organizing committee put up a grievance cell - to report how less time we give at home and how much we remain occupied with institute activity!!!

Back to this Friday and back to work again. The 1 hour meeting at 12 noon got little extended. We had heart to heart and effective discussion. On collaboration, told what my good friend and collaborator at University of London advised long back. Successful Collboration needs three 'C' - Complementarity, Capability, Confidence. Just because another person is doing similar work may not be enough. Everyone liked this straight talking.

Outside meeting room, met IIT Kharagpur batchmate, now faculty of a different dept. Hearing this, he smilingly said, "When were you not blunt like this?" Even then people bear with me and that shows how lucky I had been to be surrounded by quality people. Thank you all!

Quick 10 minute lunch. Resumed the work in the solitude of my 2nd office, away from Dept. The clock goes past 4:30 PM. Phone call comes from Dept. Meeting has to start. I was asked to take a note of the proceedings as the faculty responsible for it was on leave. Saved the work till that time and proceeded.

Entered the Dept. and its meeting room burdened with a big sense of guilt. Heard that mother of one of our Dept. colleague expired in the morning. Other colleagues were to go to his quarter at 3 PM before they move to burning ghat. I planned to join them but could not. As the meeting started, senior faculty informed all present and they congratulated. I do not remember if I expressed my gratitude to all well. Had my attention fixed elsewhere than those congratulations. It was a joint faculty meeting between our Dept. and another school. Shall send a mail to all saying thanks.

The meeting was over by 6:15 PM. It was an important meeting. Contributed in my own style (straight forward but inclusive) for which homework was done earlier. A visit to the other office in main building where I usually am there during 6 - 8 PM to address issues there. Four-five students were waiting for me in that office. They are key members of Technology Transfer Group promoting Intellectual Property awareness in the institute.

The students wanted to know my evaluation of their work related to Patent Drive that was launched on 12th March, 2014. They really worked hard and also developed an online system for the same that is hosted in the internal server. I started a blog on this yesterday and a post on this drive can be found here (Link).

I said that they did an excellent job and the core team members, about 10 of them, with whom I worked
closely for last 3 months for this, deserve a treat from me and let us decide the date and venue. To this, the students said, "Not now, Sir. Let us first achieve the 100 patent target and after that." I could not believe! To have such a sense of responsibility shows the maturity and dedication of the team. Hat's off! Thank you, dear, thank you.

Left office at 8:30 PM. Asked one of my colleague over phone and learnt that they have returned from burning ghat. Went to the colleague's quarter. Said 'sorry' for being late. As said before, I am lucky to be surrounded by good people who always forgives me.

Returned home at 9:15 PM. Mother already started chopping vegetables, a work that is reserved for me every evening in this phase when Her Highness is away. I replaced her and started my work. In earlier such phase, I also cooked. This time with improvement after knee transplant, Mother is at that. At 10 PM, put the loudspeaker, microphone batteries to recharge for next morning's P.T. session for which I had to wake up at 5:15 AM.

I had two choices. One was to complete the remaining work of Kolkata meeting next morning, after P.T. session (7 AM) and before departure for Kolkata (9 AM). The other was to finish the work and then go to bed so that there is no uncertainty for tomorrow.

Took the right choice, the second one as the work continued up to 1:30 AM. Couldn't have completed next morning.

As the central character of the story goes to bed earning his days's rest, we have almost completed the story, story of a day in the life of persons like us. Let me conclude by saying that, sent an email in the evening to someone who always motivated, supported, to say thanks and wished to be worthy of the role in an institute 'dedicated to the service of the nation.'

P.S.: If the readers are curious to know how the Saturday went, I would say that it went the way where their best guess would take them to :-) If the readers find this post dull and boring, I would like to add some colour to it by adding a picture - a long 'pahechan kaun' shot where three faculty members of our dept. are on a retreat after a failed attempt of invasion on Holi Day. Not really. They came to our quarter, offered Abir at the feet of my mother and we too exchanged. Thank you, dear!