Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Live for Thee

There was sufficient condition, perhaps not the necessary condition.  It is not that I was not writing in between. But in a different space, and in a different capacity. May be postponing this ‘chronicle of life’ for a post-retirement autobiography! Is that a good idea? Grand-father, Father, Me. Statistically speaking, I should have more than 10 years of me left for others to bear with! Enough for Jio, Ji bhar ke! Reminds me of a Chunky Pande dialogue in an Akshaykumar starrer, “I am jo-king”. Also, there is the 'live for thee' that gives purpose to a life when comes the question - Why? What for? Does it worth?

Yesterday afternoon. A discussion with theme coordinator in a national roadmap building exercise.  Healthcare should not position itself only as Sickcare. Caring health when we are healthy, adopting healthy life style, will reduce disease burden of the country. Well, could that be the necessary condition to deserve such an opening sentence? Doesn’t seem so. A routine activity can do anything but trigger.

When alone
Cut to a different scene. About 9 PM of yesterday evening. It was a Monday evening. Midsem. Exam. Started. Still in office. As usual. Had to complete and mail slides for an important video conference, scheduled today. Comes a phone. A UG student is on the other side.  Sir, I got admitted in hospital this morning with high fever. Appeared in today’s exam. from  hospital. Now, I am feeling somewhat better.  My next exam is day after tomorrow. Alone in student cabin wanted to talk to somebody. My friends must be preparing now for their exam., do not want to disturb them. Your thought came. Read in your blog that you as a student appeared in a semester exam. from this hospital.

And we talked a while. His father, in Indore, wanted to come here. Worried, since it is exam. time. The student asked him not to.  

Who is in whose family
As if it was not enough. The same yesterday. A PG student appeared at office door with a glowing face. I am getting better results now. How? It is same time-frequency features. But by doing feature selection with stricter p-value criterion. Number of features is reduced. But poorer features seem to get eliminated and the model is doing better. Very good! I am coming to the lab. shortly and shall examine. Sir, tables, plots are already sent to you and is in your inbox. You can see from here. She sat down. And her too was an exhaustive study, characteristic signature of our lab. students. The novelty, contribution part are for others to comment. I can vouch for the sincerity, effort, detailed analysis part of it. 

We were half way through our discussion on those analysis of EEG signals and interpreting functioning of brain. A knock at the door. Parents there. Both, specially the mother, are active social worker. She is part of CSR work taken up by members of a nearby Industry, from house of TATAs. Recently they conducted a program together with some of our UG students in a neighbourhood village. They came to IITKGP for some other work. Found that the light is on in my office. Wanted to discuss a new proposal with me, lighting up of approach road of one crematorium.

The research student, their daughter, gave a look at parents which I am not unfamiliar with. I get more of that from my daughter at home. Parents were kind of apologetic, embarrassed to enter in between a discussion. Made them feel comfortable. Told them that their daughter is now part of our IIT Kharagpur family and they have higher priority. We can continue the research discussion later. They have to travel some distance to return home. The picture in this post was whatsapp-ed by these parents earlier. They clicked this in a public gathering of Sathya Sai Seva Organization, held one week back.

The thread that connects
This again relates to a telephone call of yesterday. The student was calling from home. The father developed a heart related problem. Kolkata hospital told that holter test is required and possibly pacemaker after that. The hospital cannot conduct that test and told them to get it done from outside within certain date. The place where they stay has only one such centre in the district and that is booked till 12th of October. The student wanted to discuss what can be done.

The fourth one from yesterday, connected to this thread, is something that almost made me jump in joy. There was the elder brother, a senior research student, who appeared in my office. His father had a fall in toilet few days back. Since he had other health problems the family went for a Kolkata specialty hospital 200 KM from their village. Fellow students pooled money to meet the emergency and one of them accompanied him. After successful operation, the father is now back home.

The student gave this report of his father’s health. Then there was a pause. He smiled. And then said, Sir, brother has got a job. A Govt. job, contractual in the beginning. Both of us had broad smiles in our face. How much we (me and the elder brother) shared among ourselves, both worries and possible opportunities, and how to push the younger brother to deliver his best. The younger brother worked hard and full credit to him. The family even in a distressed situation like this when the father is ill, feel relieved cannot conceal joy.

Shared space
Students are at the centre in a campus environment with whom both parents and teachers connect to. The environment has inherent in it making of a bigger family out of its residents. Of my 700+ FB friends, 600+ would be students from here, mostly UG, many of them are now settled in their respective professional lives. All such student friends have one thing in common. The requests came from them. It is their greatness to consider people from another generation as ‘Friend’ and share their space with us. It was nice to learn that both the generations will be present together in Rashtrapati Bhavan for national launch of something significant. Would-be winners of a student essay competition (Link) will be invited there and it will be a joy to share space with them.

Let me end this by copy-pasting FB comment of one of my friend from our generation, a Professor at University of London, our collaborator in brain research related activity. The context was an earlier posting of this blog. The post reappeared in reference to a student led discussion held last week on - Unselfishness is more paying, but one does not have the patience to practise it.

An interesting post. It reminds me of a story I have read. A senior monk was speaking to a group of young monks and to make a point, showed a large jar and put it on the table, He produced a few fist sized rocks and placed them one by one into the jar. When no more rocks could be fit, he asked "is the jar ful?" Everyone replied in chorus, "yes". He then pulled out a bucket of gravel, dumped some in the jar, shook and dumped more. It quickly filled the spaces between the rocks. Again he asked, "is this jar full?" The monks hesitated, and one replied, "probably not." He replied, "good" and then brought some sand and dumped the sand into jar until it filled all the crevices. Again he asked, "is the jar full?" The monks were catching up, so shouted, "No." The senior then grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he asked "what is the point of this demonstration?"
One young monk responded, "the point is no matter how full your day is, you can always fit more things in."
"No" replied the wise monk, "the point is if you don't put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all. So set the life's priorities and lead your life accordingly."
One young monk responded, "the point is no matter how full your day is, you can always fit more things in.""No" replied the wise monk, "the point is if you don't put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all. So set the life's priorities and lead your life accordingly."

1 comment:

Goutam Saha said...

Wish that the Monday would have turned one more leaf! On last Wednesday, after a group meeting in lab. that ended at 7 PM, one research student wanted to talk separately and said if she can have a discussion in my office. She has just returned from home after some treatment of her ailing mother. In tears, she announced that her parents want her to discontinue her PhD work and be there with them in Kolkata, taking up some job there. This is to take care of her mother whose condition is not improving. She agreed to that as she was raised by parents and when the parents need her, she thinks that she should be there. On alternatives suggested, she told that all of them were discussed and this is the only option before them. As she touched my feet and sought blessings, I thought if I could talk to parents, not to force anything on the family, but ... Later, I heard that when she told this to fellow students after meeting me, they advised her to make an arrangement so that parents and teacher can talk. Keeping my fingers crossed and waiting for the day when this moves from comment section to the main post.