This Time Last Year…

December 3, 2010

…I was struggling with an Archaeology assignment about the effect of the Roman civilization on the rest of the world. This time, I’m struggling with an Archaeology assignment about the development of writing in various regions of the world.

And that’s where the similarity ends. At this time last year, I was sitting at a daycare, holding my breath, hoping the kids would settle down there in the next few days before I joined work. I suffered considerable angst about them reaching the daycare by school van. Would my babies be scared, worried, or want to go to the toilet while they were in the van? Would they be bullied by the other kids? Would the driver be safe and reliable?

I felt a little guilty about the daycare situation as well. They would leave home at 7.30 a.m. and return only around 6.30 p.m. every week day. Would they be secure and comfortable being away from home all day? Would they suffer from too little of my time and attention? Would I suffer? And how would I ever survive the killer commute through suffocating traffic snarls that took over an hour each way?

Meanwhile, we had to sneak in a quick trip to Pondicherry, so that I wouldn’t have to take time off as soon as I joined my new job.

And there was the job itself – I was worried about that too. Would I be able to manage? It had been two years since I’d left my job. Did I still have what it takes to be on par in the workplace? I felt rusty – would I be able to hone what used to be my skills at work? And, equally importantly, could I manage my work and also continue to give my family and home the attention they needed?

With all these worries weighing me down, I struggled to figure out in 3,000 laborious words what, exactly, had been the process and impact of romanisation in the ancient Roman empire. Apparently, I did a halfway decent job of it.

This time, I should be so lucky.

I have nothing to complain about, though. I’ve not got half the worries I had last year at this time. I know the kids are delighted and thrilled with their daycare. Their van situation is mildly worrying, but nothing to be alarmed about. I don’t think we have any more trips to Pondicherry in the offing. I have rediscovered my tech writing and editing skills and learnt a lot of new things along the way. I have been managing to work and keep things going at home for the last whole year without entirely coming apart at the seams. And, best of all, the commute home is now so comfortable that on a good day I can make it home from office in 40 minutes even though I need to take a short detour to pick up the kids.

Yes, this year, my problems are trifling, trivial: How can I improve at tennis? How can I get enough sleep (and why isn’t seven hours a night enough)? How can I stop myself from completely losing it with the kids, especially when they keep putting stuff in their mouth, spitting, or biting? (And why do they do these disgusting things? Why!?!)

Only one problem remains the same, and just as unanswerable as it was last year: How can or (or, in fact, can I) get my assignment out of the door on time? It’s 3000 words! How am I going to come up with 3,000 words about the development of writing in less than three weeks, I ask you. (And yes, I’m a writer – the irony of that question is not lost on me.)

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Archaology Update

October 2, 2008

The Early Prehistory module I’m doing now as part of my online Archaeology course is absolutely fascinating. It deals with the origins of humans from 5 million-odd years ago. I’m only a few weeks into the module, but it’s the best part – hominids, Lucy, Neanderthals, stone tools, the emergence of cave art… If I had known about this in school, I would have chosen to be a paleoanthropologist. Why don’t they tell you these things in school? The closest we came to it was History, which is about as close as Leo Tolstoy is to J K Rowling (or Anna Karenina to Harry Potter).

According to what I read this week, at one point there might have been as few as 1500 women alive on earth. 1500! The tiniest twist of fate could have made human beings extinct. Then our planet would have remained in its pristine Garden-of-Eden state for god knows how many millennia. Imagine that!


Archaeology – At Last!

March 18, 2007
I have lost count of the number of years that I have been fascinated by subjects like the origins of mankind, ancient civilizations, and even – to travel a wee bit further back in time – the origins of the universe.

I do remember that when I was in the VIth standard, we studied the Harappan civilization (way too briefly for my liking) and I was enthralled. It’s sad that after that, I never liked History (or, for that matter Geography) the way it was taught in school. But then again, when you consider that 90% of the History we studied in school had to do with the Indian struggle for freedom, you’ll get some idea of why the subject bored me to tears. Naturally, I never considered studying History in High School or college.

But Archaeology remained an area of interest ever since those days of Harappan studies.

A nagging desire to really study archaeology, whether formally or informally, has followed me around for many years. I remember discussing it with Amit once, must have been more than five years ago; and the number of times I’ve surfed the Net looking for full-time or correspondence courses on the subject doesn’t bear thinking about. Yet, I’ve never gotten around to doing it, partly because I’ve never found a correspondence course that really covered my areas of interest. It never occurred to me to study something “close to” Archaeology, such as Ancient History, or Linguistics, which can easily be done by distance education. So, I did a Masters in Psychology instead, which was never on the radar, but which I enjoyed immensely anyway (one of the few things I’m thankful to my former boss for, as she was the one who suggested it to me).

The other day, killing time in office, I started browsing the web for the nth time, looking for online courses in Archaeology, and this time I got lucky. I found a course that looked extremely interesting, and what’s more, didn’t require any face-to-face attendance whatsoever. What’s more, though it is offered by Leicester University in the UK (Indian Universities are not yet so sophisticated), it didn’t require any of the complicated paperwork like personal statement, letters of reference, TOEFL and all those other deterrents that foreign universities usually require. It is so self paced that you can complete six modules (each of three months’ duration) over a period of five years, and still be eligible for a Certificate; or you can go on to the next level and earn a Diploma. First and Second Levels (that is, Certificate and Diploma courses) are equivalent to first and second year of the undergraduate course, so if you want, you can actually join the final year in college and get a degree. Sounds perfect, and of the modules on offer at the entry level, there are six that look exactly tailor-made to my areas of interest.

Of course, it is expensive… but nothing compared to what going abroad to study costs. So today, I went and began the process of getting a draft to make the first payment. It looks like being an exciting journey. I can hardly wait to get started!


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