18 January 2018
4 years ago, I walked up the stairs of a strange building for a scheduled interview. Bugged of not having had one satisfactory interview so far, I was already dreading this one too. So sure that my dream job existed in a parallel universe altogether.
The interview was scheduled at an odd hour of the afternoon, making a drowsy me concentrate real hard on the upcoming ordeal. I rang the bell and waited….
A seemingly empty but spacious flat awaited me. It gave me the slightest of chills….was this an actual office? But then a lady walked out, asked me my name and said, “Just give me a minute, I will be right with you!”
When I walked out of the interview a while later, I never realised how an entire hour had passed. It was quite unlike the job interviews I had attempted until then. How was this different? My boss got me to talk about my passion, and then simply asked, “What if I paid you to work for exactly that?”
I walked home that afternoon with a job that had made me happy even before it started…and now, more than 4 years later, I still walk out of the same building with a smile on my face, no matter what a mad, bad, crazy and frustrating day it might have been!
That day, during my interview, I spoke a lot about how I wanted to make English an accessible subject for students. How I wanted them to love it and not learn it. How I wanted books to become a part of their lives, and these were not just textbooks I was talking about. I couldn’t stop talking about how if I could cultivate the same love for English that I have in yet another individual, I would be more than happy. And how, through all that chatter, my boss smiled a secret smile throughout.
I think she saw that I was serious. That I really did want this love affair to become public. Perhaps that is why she gave me a pretty free rein right from the beginning. I had to sell her the ideas, but once convinced, she encouraged me to push my limits further.
Slowly but steadily, I built up a different, more approachable syllabus for English in our school. Oh, we run two schools and I work in the Content Development team, for those of you who don’t know! So, I worked at it from scratch. Taking the kids from their ABCs right to introducing a novel into their syllabus.
It’s been 4 years of that, and now I have gone higher up in the organization. I now get to do another cool thing, taking me closer to realising my passion is being put to good use. I get to visit the schools, interact with the students and watch them work with the syllabus I have created. It is a beautiful thing, even watching them tear something apart. It makes you realise, you are getting there. You are helping them express. You are letting them find the errors, proving that they are now a step ahead.
Today, I went to school for one such observation session. Walked into a Std 6 class and seated myself onto the last bench, waiting patiently for the class to file in. In they came, armed with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the novel they were studying for the unit. What left me pleasantly surprised though, was that they weren’t just walking in. They were walking in with their noses buried in their books. Banging into the desks because they were just too engrossed to look up and into the reality. They were there with Harry and his friends, soaring on the broomsticks that the magic of reading had given them!
After class, the teacher pulled me aside and suggested a screening of the Sorting Hat ceremony in class. “It would just help bring the magic alive for them, you know…” she added, hoping to convince me. It was something to think about, and think I did….all the 10 kms. back to office! By the time I had parked my bike, an idea was already brewing in my mind…one that I wasn’t sure how to pull off. Wanting to give it a shot, I peeked into my boss’ cabin and had a quick word with her. In less than a minute, the entire office was on board with my idea!
What was it? Sending in a Sorting Hat as well. For there is nothing more magical than actually plunging into an activity instead of just being a spectator. The plan was to get a Sorting Hat stitched. But that’s just cliched, isn’t it? Out came the old newspapers, old chart papers, files long since discarded. We cut, we pasted, we played with the dried Fevicol too and we went absolutely mental with our laughing fits.
It was an afternoon filled with creativity and magic. We went from piecing together crumpled pieces of newspaper to creating our own Sorting Hat in a matter of 2 hours…apprehensive, excited and exhausted by the end of it.
The next day, the teacher called and just said, “Hats off to you!”
In that one sentence, I knew I had struck my first pot of gold. I had helped create a piece of magic; one that would transport the many students into its realms; one that would leave these students discover the joy of reading and watch it come alive….
…and now that prompted me to keep on and nurture my passion!