Friday, December 02, 2011

Always on

It's close to midnight on the second full day of my winter vacation--or what is supposed to be one. I find that I am sitting here at my laptop catching up on email, listening to rough cuts of the upcoming shows on Bol Hyderabad (the campus community radio station of the University of Hyderabad), reading student work that needs to be commented upon, preparing for a series of workshops I have committed to... in short, it doesn't look like a promising beginning for a vacation! And I thought University life was going to be a picnic compared to the corporate or NGO sectors! Whatever happened to the life of quiet reflection peppered with the occasional ruminative lecture that academics are supposed to be privileged to have? When I switched jobs last year, I thought I was entering a space where there would be time for some amount of purposeless reading, for writing (things other than reports and promotional materials), and for stimulating intellectual debate (unlike the heated arguments over paper texture or background colour that I had grown used to having periodically). It's been twelve months now, and those three things have remained mirages.

I'm not complaining, really. I love the work. I absolutely love the highs that come from being in a classroom full of young people who believe in you and what you have to say (for the most part--and I try to ignore the texting that is happening in one corner, or the surreptitious surfing in another). I enjoy the conversations I have with students who walk into my open office and talk about their confusions and their hopes. And I enjoy being able to work with my own deadlines, the independence with which I can organize what and how I will teach. I have no one but myself to blame for the add-ons...the papers I choose to write, the chapters I agree to contribute, the workshops I get involved in, etc. And of course the love affair with radio that has resumed after three long decades of being out of touch with the medium.

Not to forget, there's also another thing that keeps me busy even when the University is closed. Teacher Plus. I've just downloaded 16 articles to be given an editorial once-over for the coming month's issue. There are papers to look at and deal with. There is the next issue of Edu-Care that needs to be planned.

There's a pile of novels by my bed that I'm hoping to get to this month, and tonight, I just might get to the crossword. But for now, I guess I had better get back to work. Yes, it is vacation time. But some of us can't bear to turn ourselves off.

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