When I updated my status in facebook mentioning the start of winter holidays, I received a number of congratulations, best wishes and queries. Congratulations from some friends who knew that I needed some time for myself. Best wishes from others who thought I would execute important plans like vacationing somewhere or visiting places. And queries from those who would love to know what I exactly would do.
Almost everyone who comes online with me finds me in office in the day time. At night I happen to run into students who start queries about internship, thesis, and classes. During one of these nocturnal cybernetic ventures I told my Norwegian friend that I was preparing research guidelines for students, chatting with some she knew and catching hold of others who had negligently crossed the deadline for beginning their projects [Notice for Research Proposals]. She wondered, “Are you still in the office?”
In one of those rare wits I replied, “No, the office is in me.”
Let others judge if I am wrong though I don’t expect any judgement. I gave time to three students yesterday (Saturday) because they needed help. I spent hours last night emailing students about the rationale of doing research in a university and updating research guidelines [Research Guidelines for BMS Fourth Year] for their final project before judging myself as an idiot of a sort — one who has forgotten to be himself and of his family at least for fifteen out of the three hundred and sixty five days. But I would love to add two paragraphs from my late-night rhetoric:
MEDS 450 is an intensive research project demanding your efforts worth of 6 credits. It is meant to help substantiate your research capabilities as required in a four-year Undergraduate program. You will complete it under constant guidance of a supervisor who will work along with you to ensure your competence in research and academic writing to the standard of qualifying you for the Bachelor’s degree.
Keep in mind: you can produce programs elsewhere, as a freelancer, out of interest whenever you choose to do it. You have this opportunity in your internship also. But formal academic research and writing are rare opportunities, and have long-term positive impact on your career. Moreover, MEDS 450 builds research foundation for your graduate and post-graduate studies. The structure of the Media Studies program, therefore, makes research mandatory.
I hate to be retrospective, but can’t help being. What I see is: I have always spent my vacation in KU, working in the Department, helping in examinations, evaluating students, training participants for programs etc. etc. So, when Apsara says I am more married to the Department than her, I see sense. When Anurag asks me on Saturday why I have not gone to office, I feel sad. Also, when a student shows the computer lab and its broken and missing accessories plus the library and its emptying racks and asks, “Are you too busy or unhappy these days, sir?”, I see enough reason for carrying the office in me.
And, to some of my colleagues who are having the best of the subsiding cold and ongoing spring (which they rightfully, wisely do) I and my type may appear stupid. But do we not need stupid people to keep things going?
I don’t like to see confused people around if I know I could help avoid the confusion. My principle so far is that I must do more than a job.
Today: one of those very official days
I helped in invigilation between hours of thinking about the office. The day began with discussing the way of streamlining student projects, followed by a meeting for deciding the Department’s collaborative liabilities with Organization for Visual Progression (OVP). I spent the invigilation time noting down to-dos for the vacation so that I (in fact, we) can resume upcoming semester with less confusion. I also took a chance of sneaking into Tirtha’s room to edit the research guidelines updated last night. After lunch I met the registrar and got his instructions for sending OVP feedback on their collaborative requirements. Before the office-time came to a close, I had a tea-time departmental gossip with Mr. Pandey planning for the semester ahead. After dinner, I wrote to Spiny Babbler on OVP collaboration. Office all over!
The delay in student placement for internship will extend if I do not finalize the request letter, evaluation scheme, report format and instructions for students tomorrow.
[But this was postponed for another day as Professor Chauhan had an errand in Kathmandu.]
None of these are mentioned in my appointment letter if I go by the ritual of referring to this official document. I have understood that they come under helping the media studies program for which I feel parental affection.
Apsara reminded me in the evening that holidays could have been better for untying the PhD-noose.
Yes, the NOOSE!