Think – and write down your favorite movie, book and music artist of all times said the whiteboard as I walked into class on Tuesday. Settling down in my chair I noticed people gathered in groups discussing football or television shows. Some were focused intently on their laptops. Looking around, I found no one free. I opened my note and gave the question on the board some serious thought. “Roman Holiday?” my mind wondered. What was the best movie I ever remember seeing? My mind paused at “Bhama Vijayam” then at “Sati Leelavati”, “Michael Madana Kamarajan”, “Guna, ” Mahanadi”.. and so on before realizing I did not really have a favorite. Once I had established that, I decided to pick one that would be something familiar to a majority non desi audience. Movie done, Book was easy. “Roots” I put down. Music Artist? Does it mean singer, songwriter or composer?
Why did life have to be difficult? I wondered before taking the easy route and putting down “Taylor Swift” for favorite music artist. Class begun and the young instructor was full of life and paced the length of the hall giving each of us full attention. Even as I started to wonder if there was any point to the exercise on the board, his voice boomed “I will call out a name from the roster, I want the person to come to the front of the class, shake my hand and pick up a copy of the syllabus.. and..” he paused before continuing “tell me your answers to the question on the board.”
The answers came rolling in. Some hilarious, some unknown, some safe and some unexpected. When my turn came I went up and pronounced my choices before heading back clutching a copy of the syllabus. When we were all done, the instructor asked a few questions that set me thinking. “Did any of us change our answers so it would be popular?” “Was anyone embarrassed by their choices?” “Did anyone feel uncomfortable walking up in front of the class to announce their choices?”.
The questions were discomforting as well as needling. I knew I had altered answers to be safe. I did not feel uncomfortable walking up to the front of the class. But putting these questions out, he set my mental wheels whirring. The rest of the class was every bit engaging as it was at the start. A couple of days later, I am still thinking of the emotions and feelings that little exercise put me through. As a school kid, I was one to always raise my hand with answers and to ask questions. I was a smart alec at times. I loved being the center of attention. Holding a mike at the center of a dais was one of the things I loved to do.
Starting my MBA in some ways feels like awakening to the person I was. The childish enthusiasm and the need to impress comes to the fore more often than not. Sides of me I had forgotten existed is peeking outside. As I prepare for class this evening, I feel a renewed sense of purpose. Not just for learning what is in the textbook but to uncover parts of me that have been sleeping for a decade or more.