Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | June 20, 2009

Pause to Learn

It is nearly a year that we have left India and it surprises me little to think that, how other than our parents, so few people have actually bothered to write to us asking, how are we doing? How is our mood, generally away from our home? Are we coping all right? Can they help with some motivational talk? Can they get us some information about our ageing parents to us?

Interestingly, though I have received many emails about how everyone else is feeling, about their moods, ups and downs that they are going through, their frustrations, their anger, whether they expect us to behave in certain way or not but none of them really bothered to lend their shoulders to us.

That is how life is and we seem to have no option but to accept it that way. My learning is, perhaps it is only our parents who remember us out of sheer love and none else.

In this regard, I came across a nice dialogue in a film that I watched recently. A character in the film was lamenting generally about the world at large saying, despite thousands of years of progress, humans still did not learn how to love.

I feel it is so true.

Anyway, here I am happy to have met a few people who despite their age are so eager to learn something new.

I have already written about Kit. I find it absolutely unbelievable that an ex-school principal, an ex-science teacher, in order to find a new challenge in life (after he had a major accident and injured his knee), took up a job of a building manager with his wife. I wonder how come he does not feel he becomes someone lesser by doing such a physical job where he has to serve people in the true sense of the term.

It is true in offices here too.

Recently, I was talking to a senior Partner in our firm. He is a tremendously hard working and a respected professional. He has scaled great heights in the profession too and is bound to do well in this firm if he continues to do what he is doing. He has a wife and four young kids. He was telling me that despite being around 45 and having worked for more than 20 years, he is still doing a university offered course on a specialized area of our profession. I was stunned to be honest when he told me that he has to take exams (spanning 8 hours each) in controlled environment, in order to pass this course. I did not ask him why is he doing it when he seems to have already achieved so much in profession. I just realized that he does not probably have time to give these things thoughts. If you ask him what he does after he reaches home at 7.00 pm or in the weekends, he would say he plays with his kids. I am sure despite all these, he has time to sharpen his skills. Most of us probably are wasting our time, somewhere then! I have worked in some of the most reputed firms in India and I have never come across such a professional at that level, who is so open to learning ā€“ in the true sense of the term.

There are many more such people that I am meeting here. I would write about some of them later.

These people look like many of us, but in some ways they know how to better utilize their lives. Though most of us think that we are doing it best in our way, but if we do an absolutely honest self-introspection and be a little humble, we would realize that some of us have stopped learning long back. The reasons we provide for our attitude are mostly shallow. We have this inherent feeling perhaps ā€“ whatever we are we are the best and the whole world around us should change according to us.

Is it a fair enough explanation, I wonder? Have we ever stopped to ponder what we have learnt new, say in last one month. Well, we have such theories to talk about most of the times which are just weak defenses for our attitude. Can any of the readers list down what he or she has learnt in the last few months.



  1. First, Tanmoy, I am a little embarrassed and truly very sorry if you have begun to feel that Suvroda, too, is one of those who don’t care how you are doing, and are only too eager to tell you about their woes or achievements! Believe me, we talk about you very frequently in my house, and much of my non-working time is spent worrying about how all my beloved old boys and girls are doing. Only, their number is now very large, and I am getting old and tired, so I beg to be forgiven if I have inadvertently given hurt by not asking ‘How are you doing?’ often enough. In any case, you do have our prayers and best wishes, always.

    Not many people, in this country especially, really care about how others are doing, except to envy or sneer at them. Empathy is not a trait that was ever very highly rated here, and it has become increasingly devalued in the last few decades. My entire blogging effort is to network with people who can feel true empathy, and I do find a few (you can try communicating with Shilpi… she’s a treasure), but I also find too many of the other sort, who spit venom at the slightest provocation!

    I hope you do know that I have always been open to learning, but still, at my age, I seem only to learn things that re-confirm what I had already learnt or suspected… such as that if you wish to interact with the world, you had better grow a thick skin, and very often silence is indeed golden; the wise man does not react to provocation. These are two things I have (re-)learnt in the last few weeks. Among more mundane things, I have lately learnt that fairly decent red wine is now available in my town, and that I cannot type comfortably and fast on a laptop. I have also learnt that my daughter is becoming a big girl now! and that it is more fun to teach younger pupils (I have started tutoring class 8 kids for the first time this year).

    I had always dreamt that like your Kit I could become a student in the formal sense again, someday. We are not, however, blessed with the same opportunities. That does not necessarily mean, though, that we are all lacking in energy or interest…!

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