A Slip Of Opportunity

I am a confident talker. I have no problem in conversing with anyone. That is my opinion about myself. I am not sure though if others feel the same about me. Although it’s not the same with my writing skills. During my conversations, I know where to put a comma and where to put a full stop. I generally don’t talk too much to experience very many slips of tongue. Circumstantially it happens, when I am under the influence, but slip of opportunity is totally a different story.

I am a so called teacher. Two years back, I got my teaching credential from a California State University. It was the proudest day of my life. I worked really hard to get to that stage and I deserved that happiness. Don’t get me wrong here, I still am proud of my achievement but there have been some other experiences that were not on my agenda at the time. I had hoped that once I got the degree, I will get a job and I’ll be on a fast track of becoming a good teacher. But, life is not as straight as one thinks.

In spite of the fact that I am on the lookout for a full time position, I am still capable of establishing a record. Generally, the word teacher and record do not go in the same sentence but it’s true. Soon, I would be holding a record for missing an outrageous number of job opportunities that had knocked on my door. I would be awarded the title of Miss “MOM.” Don’t be perplexed; of course I am a mom but this self made acronym stands for, “Many Opportunities Missed.”

The opportunities that generally arrive at my door are on skates. To make matter worse, they are amateur skaters. When I think I’m prepared, I open my heart’s door and politely ask them to come in. As soon as they make a favorable move towards me, these learners forget what they have learned and loose their balance. They skid away as if they had stepped on the banana peel. They quickly pass off before my eyes, hitting and shattering few things within me. They do not take away anything from me but leave me with a paper and I manage to find a pen to write my feedback and comments that would help me to do better next time.

In last couple of years, I have been through so many questionnaires and interviews that many people might not have been in their whole life. The reason they reject me is that that I don’t have any job experience and there is always someone more experienced than I am for that specific job. The big question is, “if I don’t have a job, where would I get the experience???” But the misery is that people don’t understands the pain of it. And those who understand are not in hiring position. So, I am like a dog who is trying to catch its own tail; going round and round and round.

I’m not just any dog. I am an expensive one too, like English Bull Dog or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or Samoyed for that matter. Each interview or a demo teaching lesson costs me, no sorry (I am not even earning) costs my husband a fortune. Everything from a new formal shirt to new stationary to teaching supplies adds to our monthly expenditure. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to set aside some money in our budget, under the section, “For Interviews”. At least then it wouldn’t hurt as much.

I am quite sure that there wouldn’t be many who have the same experience that I have in giving interviews. I always manage to crack first couple of levels but then something happens. The HR people inform me that I was great but they found someone better. That statement is so conflicting. I don’t know how to react to it; if I should be happy about it or I should cuss the person who was better than me.

In the beginning, I used to save my rejection letters. My positiveness within me didn’t allow me to consider that getting a rejection letter is a failure. It was seen as a little bump on the road rather than a mountain. People tend to get disheartened if the ride is too bumpy. They begin to loose the charm of it but I got a hang of it. Instead of breaking my journey midway, I fell in love with the whole process of hiring. Only thing that has changed is that I have stopped saving my rejection letters. Saving them meant buying a new file cabinet. There was no point in spending those extra bucks because after all that time, reading the similar kind, time and again, the content of the letter had permanently settled in my RAM.

Pretty soon, the hiring people might issue a California Most Unwanted list. And my name will be on the top of that list. Or they might even start putting my name in their “Job Requirements/ Qualification” list. In all lilkelihood they do not want someone like me but the contrary, someone unlike me. Among all the requirements, one of the points would state—

* “If your name is Nandita Gaur, please do not apply.”

So, calling out all prospective parents whose last name is ‘Gaur’, please think before you name your daughter Nandita.

The irony of the whole things is that I cannot even complain. God has given me many chances to prove my worth but fortunately or unfortunately I have lost them all. I think he has to do more than just showing those avenues. I am God’s special needs child and I call for his extra attention, because I am not going to give up and I will keep filling those questionnaires, keep driving to new schools, keep meeting new people and keep interviewing.

God bless my interviewers!!!

“What Do You Want To be?”

That Morning was very pleasant. She was browsing the news on her iPad. The news that she already knew but wanted to see it again and again and on all available sources. May be not for the world but for her, her son was the celebrity of the day. Once he would have flown the STS XXX to Mars next year, he would be the youngest astronaut to do so till date. Sally K. Ride was the youngest until now. She was 32 when she flew STS -7 in 1983 with other mission specialists and pilots. Sid had called her mom the night before and overwhelmed her with this exciting news. After an year of rigorous training at Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, he had been chosen to be among the five finalists to go on the second mission to Mars. He would just be 29 years old on 24 April, 2022, almost an year from now, when he would be flying on his space vehicle from Key West, Florida.

While browsing through net, she even forgot about her tea. She had read Sid’s name at so many places. Everywhere possible. She didn’t go into the details of the papers that he had published in various Science Journals and other magazines but she definitely admired the byline. These papers and articles came into publication during his engineering years and during his doctorate. By now, she knew the in and out of her son’s work. Ashu brought another cup of tea. They looked at each other and smiled.

A little sip of hot tea on their little patio traversed her twenty-two years back when Sid was just seven. It was his birthday party, when Sheisha asked him, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And without any ado he answered, “I want to be a Fire Fighter at Santa Clara station number 400.” Both his answer and his strong conviction surprised his mom.

First Inspiration

Though she never felt that there was anything wrong in being a firefighter but she had repeatedly heard him say that he wanted to be an astronaut. He had conveyed the choice of this career in many ways so there was never a doubt in her mind that he would change his decision anytime soon in spite of the fact that he was first inspired by a monkey. Curious George, Sid’s all time favorite animated character was the first monkey to go in space in one of the episode in the cartoon series broadcasted on TV.

Sid’s aversion from the mystical world of Astronomy became more evident when his mom came across his “Blue journal.” He had written in there that he doesn’t want be an astronaut anymore because it was boring. Yet another surprise. She smirked. Although she didn’t know much about astronauts but she had a strong feeling that a job of an astronaut can be anything but boring. Whatever be the reason but his mom was not prepared for it. She wanted to talk to Sid about this change but the “liberal mom” within her stopped her from saying anything. The “liberal mom” in her had always felt that kids should be made aware of the choices they have but the final decision has to be made by them only. And then life took it’s course.

Tech Museum, San Jose, CA

A couple of weeks after the journal incident, they happened to be at The Tech Museum, San Jose, CA. The girl behind the information counter kindly welcomed them with a smile. Sid’s Mom liked the positive feeling that she had when she entered the museum. The entrance fee included the price of the movie at the IMAX (dome) theatre. They had to make a choice between the movie title “Forces of Nature” and “Hubble.” Sid made the decision that he wanted to watch the second one. They had two hours before the show, so they went to lower floor and enjoyed other science exhibits.

Two people, a quarter of century apart by age, were jumping from one station to another at The Tech Challenge Gallery. Both of them seemed to be equally excited. Younger one was overwhelmed to learn the scope of science. The older one was happy to discover the avenues of teaching. Sid and his mom were in high spirits. They tried all the hands-on activities that were there. “Green By Design” section was amazing too because it educated about the power of natural resources like wind, water and solar energy. Sid was totally amazed when he saw the glowing rings, from the energy that he produced by letting water flow on the turbine.

While they hopped from one exhibit to another he kept reminding his mom about the time. He was looking forward to the movie Hubble and finally the time to go to theatre came. He hadn’t had the opportunity to be in Dome theatre before. It was the love at first sight when he saw the theatre. Being a weekday it was not crowded. Both mom and son had a tremendous choice for seating. They decided to sit in the topmost section. First, it was dark and then the dome lit up with thousands of stars. The movie started with fireworks. It was bright, it was loud and it seemed that the flares were coming on to us. It was an actual 3-D experience.

IMAX Hubble was an amazing experience. Watching things that are beyond a normal person’s imagination, the galaxies and stars and the colors and the photos clicked by the Hubble telescope was just a majestic experience for both. Sid had the time of his life when the reverse counting started and the space shuttle flew off of the ground. His face brightened on seeing the astronauts (mission specialists) repairing the Hubble through so many challenges. Amidst all the excitement, he reached his mom’s ears and whispered, “Mom, I used to think that Astronaut’s job was boring but not anymore.” She smiled and offered him the cookie ice-cream that astronauts eat when in the shuttle, a gift that she purchased from the Tech Museum Store earlier that day.

Imagine seeing it in 3D