Jack of all trades...

This is an often-heard proverb, anyone can probably connect the dots and complete the sentence saying 'master of none! But doesn't it seem too pessimistic?

I was an above-average student throughout my schooling, sometimes even the class topper. But scoring above the ordinary or performing very well in the examination was never my priority. Instead, I believed in waking up with very light feathers, expanding my wings, and touching the horizon, the sky, and the depth of doting grass line beneath simultaneously. Maybe having an untangled mind that could think in parallel lines helped a lot.

Maybe I was gifted and blessed. I can remember participating in a Running race, basketball match, General knowledge Olympiad, and drawing competitions in between my scheduled terminal examination. I survived all. I managed to sail through all of it very smoothly. Few parents of my fellow classmates complained about the increased focus of school authorities towards extracurricular activities. But I could not see a point in it. These things made me more 'alive' by the day.

Nevertheless, my life of (not so) extraordinary achievements came to a sudden halt the moment I competed in the entrance exam of one of the leading Design schools in India and was a day scholar /hosteler for four years of graduation. Everything was a run of the struggle for me. Adjusting in an entirely new environment , new college , new kind of study to opening my eyes to a glamour world that was too big for me even to watch with my two little eyes. Sometimes I felt like a kid spectator feeling lost and amused completely in a grand circus kaleidoscope, some other times I found myself behaving like a joker -trying to entertain myself with knitty gritty of hard toil behind all that shimmer.

Nevertheless, all that looked artsy and shining from the layman's view involved such carefully planned backstage hard work which has much to learn from. One thing that design school taught me for life was never to shy away from learning something new, welcome changes with open arms and realise /accept one's own flaws readily.

My career began as a Designer in handloom handicraft development sector soon after my graduation. Since it was a difficult Naxalite hit terrain, but a home job for me, I was given ample encouragements, promoted to be an in charge of an entire district. I learnt a lot in that job. From creating and heading regional office, hiring support staffs, maintaining the daily office work, fairly utilising the allotted state Government funds(howsoever meagre it seemed) in handicraft development works.

Meeting and convincing local artisan populace for formulating SHGs, getting their health insurance done, organizing trainings, managing master artisans, conducting sampling workshops to travelling every week twice to remote villages.

I managed to design three collection of women flat slippers. Started manufacturing, planned, procured the project right from buying machines, training master artisans, workers, getting production done, finishing, packing and dispatch. I had to participate in the packaging designs, marketing and sales. At that point in my life I was completely overwhelmed in two ways. Positively I was humbled with all the recognition and learnings that I received. On the downside I was a bit frustrated with the overwork and snail pace of work.

Those couple of years that I managed to survive as a enterprising entrepreneur cum government official taught me things that became like a root spine of mine. Sadly, we faced grave scarcity of funds and had to shut down footwear unit within ten months. But I ensured that nothing was wasted even after things were shut. The waste Leather and PU sheets along with fixtures were utilised to make Recycled products like fancy earrings, keyring, pouches etc. The specialized machineries was sent to another location's urban hat for utilisation and then consequently resold.

My stint of teaching students few years younger to me was another chapter in my life. I used to become friends and get more involved in their respective design projects then they themselves. From fearing to face the class of thirty teens from other side of table, to deliberately wearing saree to put gravity in my look, I never hesitated a bit . The emotional attachment that I formed with the students and teachers alike was beyond comprehension.

Nevertheless, thanks to the social media I am still connected with few of them and get inspired. Recently, I noticed a surge in user centred design, I observed a lot of my ex-students up skill themselves and got enrolled in one of the prestigious institutions. Learning never ends. Will to Learn should therefore never fade. Howsoever, I have also taught in some of the private design colleges and not having a lesson plan, course contents, creating them and then delivering the presentation lectures along with fighting for daily wage cheques were all a different experience altogether.

My vivid experiments in book writing is another chapter where I am still learning a lot. With one published book in tow, I had some very diverse reviews and glances based upon it. On one had few intellectuals receive it with welcome gesture (I have some warm reviews on amazon and kindle selling page), on the other hand there are some people who think the poetry written underneath are based upon them - hence the sarcastic scornful comments were a simultaneous feature. To each one - own beliefs. That is what is kicking me to work upon my second book loosely based upon mental health awareness.

Maybe being high on EQ level is my major flaw which has broken me umpteen number of times. I have faced rejections, down times and career breaks, but I never abstain to accept them with elan. Knowing and accepting people on emotional quotient level is one of my hobbies and may be that is what makes me smoothly don many hats simultaneously and smoothly. Jack of all trades - quite optimistically.

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