Tuesday, May 13, 2008

RYLA part 6

There was not much scope for any post-lunch lethargy. The lunch hour was spent in eating and I changed into a kurta and jeans and arrived on time for the lecture at 2. The air conditioned hall was a respite from the heat of May.

I honestly planned to fall asleep if the proceedings would turn out to be boring. But a good lecturer knows how to keep his audience attentive even when they are lethargic after lunch. At 2, we got to meet such a person. He was Mr. S. Devadasan (engineer and lecturer) and his lecture was named “Time Management and Prioritization”. I am against talking too much about my personal life in a lecture, but this man knew how to carry that off. I do not know how his daughter’s education fit in within a lecture on time management, but I am not complaining, because whatever he was saying sounded good to the ears and made sense. He told us how his daughter climbed up the ladder in her profession and now shuttles from country to country. He even talked about his son-in-law who is a gadget freak and how his daughter and her husband are a successful couple despite their being very different (this could be a comment on how one should keep profession out of the home, but I am not too sure). I have to say something. Among all the lectures, I remember this one most distinctly, despite its diverse contents and digressions from the topic to be discussed. I think that it is an impact any lecturer would love to make. There is one thing he said that I specifically want to mention. He talked about the time when his daughter took admission in a reputed college (he refused to mention the name) for studying economics. He noticed that she was always busy with things other than studying. When he questioned her about whether she found her subject interesting, her reply was that the subject was good enough, but out of her five teachers in college, only one was teaching, while two were sleeping in class and the other two were dictating their 1968 notes. I could give Mr. Devadasan a vote of agreement if he asked for it at this point. I am blessed to be part of a great department in a great university. But I have been unfortunate enough to attend a few classes in school and another few in college (where we do pass subjects along with our major) where I had the same experience. Not that it made any difference to my marks, but the classes were worthless none-the-less. Mr. Devadasan did come to the topic of time management at last and he showed us a nice and colorful presentation on screen about how to handle jobs at hand. Important jobs should be done before they turn urgent, and not so important jobs may safely be left for later. So one has to prioritize and work accordingly, because it is impossible to do everything at once. Thus setting realistic goals is a must. Mr. Devadasan also talked about the position of women. He feels they are still suppressed and preferred in the home as a dutiful wife. I said later that I was under the impression that educated and working women were more popular with men seeking a wife these days, to which he replied that it is true in certain places but not all over our nation. He also thought that the women in Kolkata were doing quite well and in a better position compared to the women in the rest of the country. If this is true, I am afraid I feel quite delighted. The lecture was, for the lack of a better expression, very good. Nobody fidgeted or showed any sign of impatience throughout this long lecture. I loved it. The only irony was that the lecture on time management took up around 20 minutes more than the time allotted to it.

The next lecture had to begin at 3:25 instead of 3, because of the long previous lecture. It is hard to make an impact when you are to speak after a good speaker, but if you are in your element, it becomes easy. The next speaker began in a fresh tone and we were hooked, yet again. The lecture was on “Fundamentals of Leadership and Motivation” and it was by PDG Sekhar Mehta (if you are visiting the link, scroll down to see his profile). His lecture was impersonal and conventional at its best. I would not like to repeat the good things he said about helping people and the human community in general, but the things were touching. I remembered an essay I wrote on “Individual and Community” for my university entrance examination as he talked. He emphasized on the importance of maintaining cordial relations with people and thinking about others. It might have turned didactic had he not resorted to the very aptly thrown-in jokes that made the mood lighter and healthier. He talked about bus drivers abroad who smiled and waved and drove merrily, while those in our country barely smile and are almost always showing a grimace or screaming at other drivers. This got quite a few laughs, but it wasn’t so amusing to me. I pointed out (he had asked us to interject anytime we wanted to) that it is too much to expect from our drivers, because they do not get paid much money and never get to enjoy things like a good house and a car and a proper salary like the smiling foreigners. “You have hit the nail right on the head”, he said and then talked about a project he was part of, which sought to make some provisions for bus and taxi drivers to raise their living standards. His lecture was a good one and it ended at 4:10. I assume that he had shortened it to get us back on schedule as far as he could. The official time to end was 4, but as he had started quite late, I must say that he did a brilliant job of time management while delivering his illuminating speech.

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