Whenever my journey in the hallowed halls of the IB is broached, the inevitable question arises, flitting about like a socially awkward butterfly at a summer garden party. The subsequent conversation often seems like a scene stolen from 'Waiting for Godot': "So, you’ll move on to bigger roles?" "No." "Why ever not?" "Still waiting for Godot.” Ah, the classic deflection! This persistent query, looming like the proverbial sword of Damocles, often springs from the lips of some well-meaning HR savant who believes they've stumbled upon the hidden depths of my talents. How gracious of them!
But, you see, when faced with such interrogations, I usually lean into a sly grin and gracefully sidestep. For I've chosen to remain, by design, entrenched in the world of literature. Not because I'm oblivious to promotions, but because, in the very marrow of my being, I'm a poet. I dance to the unsung rhythm of silence and savor the secretive murmurs of the fall leaves.
Sure, administrative roles offer a bird's-eye view, perhaps even a plush chair and a swankier office. But can they compare to the sheer enchantment of seeing a young mind utterly smitten by a sonnet or a story? The classroom, for me, is akin to a live theatre where Shakespeare's musings coalesce with a teen's daydream. My raison d'être is not merely to recite literary classics, but to mold the very souls who, I hope, will one day pen them.
*Well, as they say, the proof is in the pudding! And oh boy, have my students whipped up a decadent dessert! Here, feast your eyes on the culinary... I mean, poetic masterpieces these future Shakespeares have whipped up in the kitchen... err, classroom. Bon appétit... or should I say, happy reading!
I recently found myself marveling at the independent shenanigans of my friend's tabby. As it confidently knocked a coaster off the table, I turned to her and mused, "Ever wonder why your cat doesn’t need a kitty boss overseeing its mischief?" She gave me a puzzled look, but think about it! Cats, like many of today's workers, seem to have figured out that traditional leadership is pawsitively outdated. While some of us can't even manage to match our socks in the morning, the contemporary American workspace is all about embracing our inner feline autonomy. And if research is to be believed, hierarchy in companies is becoming as redundant as that cat-themed 2020 calendar still hanging on your wall or for that matter, matching socks!
Hold onto your mismatched socks, folks, because according to studies in the USA, an increasing number of companies are doing away with the classic boss-subordinate structure. Maybe they figured out that the coffee fetched by interns tastes the same as the one fetched by, well, anyone else. Or perhaps they've just acknowledged the infinite wisdom of the age-old proverb: too many chiefs, not enough Indians.
Remember the time when being called "bossy" was almost a compliment? Now, it's more like: "Hey bossy pants, where's your team?" Answer: "Who needs one when I have ME?"
Jokes apart, the shift underscores a bigger movement: empowerment! Recognizing that each individual has the potential to inspire, manage, and innovate on their own terms. No hovering supervisor required. The future of work might just look like a flat, open playground instead of a pyramid. It's time to become your own inspiration, be your own leader. And, maybe, just maybe, get yourself matching socks. If you're into that kind of thing.
While, I sit back and admire my mismatched 'floral' socks, may the forests of democracy flourish! Here's to leading myself with a hint of tabby flair!
I read some lines you had written somewhere(I shouldn’t have)
and somewhere in the misplaced lines
a continent of pain drowns in islands of sorrow
you become a boy of borrowed mishappenings
a door ajar, airborne towards a non existent light,
in between life, your self created turmoil, your will as transparent as your vice
I think of you thinking of yourself as Lyon, circumnavigating hellfire
and flashing streaks of momentary genius
in hard fried microwaved eggs
one after the other,
you hold bowls of sunny sides up, send me photographs of video games
you play, holding night in the devil’s workshop.
I sit, miles away enveloped in groping darkness
and, I wonder, how much madness is too much madness,
if my sadness oscillates between your mood swings
what is it to have freedom and to be free
in moments when I am thinking of you and perhaps, you are thinking of me.
Your ordinariness is not light
it's not the luminosity of Christ
it’s the tale of a forgotten child-
a child you wish to forget, but it does not leave you behind
You wrote the idiot made you cry (I shouldn’t have read that)
in that one line you opened almanacs of your grief
pain stained windows, filled with shades of gray and blue,
open and shut in the monsoon rain with a sound only the broken make
“And all of this, all this life abroad, and this Europe of yours is a fantasy…”
I feel the words sear through my heart
and as my fragile nerves make meaning of your heartbreaks
I find you clutching Myshkin in a tight embrace.
© Jaspreet Mann
Today I read Nazim Hikmet,
After so many months of waiting, believing, wandering, retreating
I looked with astonishment at the
words that jumped from the Prague- Berlin train
looking at me in the eye
and making a point in their unique way
that they were here to stay.
So, I meet strangers in the street
they look at me and I look at them
a 'how are you?' lurking in our eyes
we want to say the same things
the commonality of disaster
envelops our fragile beings
it rains, it stops, it rains again
we move behind closed doors
our hearts navigating secret stories
we live like strangers finding meaning
in the destiny of uncertainty
the cold clock looks on, unimpressed
its arms stretched forever into eternity
the longer I stand, the smaller I get
fading into oblivious indignity
and like some old song that comes to mind
I ask myself 'how are you?'
the silence is deafening
How am I? How should I be?
I am not sure if I have
ever been able to answer that question
© Jaspreet Mann, How are you? (2020)
Never before have I felt this kind of temporariness and uncertainty transcend my existence. This poem, that I wrote long ago came to my mind during this time.
*click on the pic to hear the poem.
Today practice what you preach. Don't talk about the boredom of work from home. Don't talk about your difficulties. Think about people who are nudged into margins and documented in statistics. Pay your maid. Pay all those people who worked for you. Pay them now because a few rupees will save a life, a family. When you voice all those challenges about working from home, remember those people who don't have a voice!