On the 21st of September, I called up a professor of psychology that was recommended to me by my ex-professor. We will name the professor I called Sheila. I informed Sheila that I heard there were possible vacancies for teaching at the college (which by the way, is a pretty renowned women’s college in Mumbai). She confirmed and asked that I come see her at 11:30 am on the 23rd. I was excited by the prospect of meeting a college professor and possibly discussing a teaching position as a visiting faculty.
The day arrived and I dressed for the role. This time, there was no battle in my mind about taking a train versus a cab. It was 10:30 am and I knew that there would be relatively empty trains going to Churchgate. I hopped on the train, with my headphones on, and it was a smooth 30 minute journey, pleasant and all.
I arrived at the college promptly at 11:25 am. I walked through a highly crowded and small campus, feeling out of place amongst the hundreds of college girls all clad in Indian attire and speaking multiple Indian languages amongst themselves – English was rarely spoken. Even when I spoke to a student in English, she responded to me in Hindi. I guess it is fair, considering that Hindi is the national language. But, I surely didn’t feel like I belonged here.
I got confirmation for the same after I experienced all of the following:
1. There was a tiny elevator or lift that slowly crawled from floor to floor. Outside the elevator door on the first floor, there were about 15 students trying to get in. I decided to bypass this waiting game (there are a lot of waiting games to be played in Mumbai), and walk the 5 flights of stairs.
2. As I walked up, I couldn’t help but notice the fire extinguisher case – I wish i had taken a photograph of it. The glass case was not there at all. There was no water hose as well – the gigantic hose that usually lies in case there is a fire!!!! Instead, the case was filled with people’s trash. I was shocked, to say the least.
3. Now, the icing on the cake. I went to the psychology department and was there at 11:30 am. I was met by Sheila who looked like she had been smoking hash forever. Her eyes were half shut and she slurred a little, as if in an altered state of consciousness. She greeted me by inquiring who I was, why I had come to meet her, and how she could help me. I was a little dumbfounded considering that she knew who I was and she herself invited me to meet her on the 23rd day of September. So, after explaining who I was and reminding her about our conversation, I thought she would lead me into her office so we could talk about the possibility of me teaching at the college. But that was not to be. Instead, Sheila decided that she’d rather talk to me in the waiting room than take me to her office, which was just around the corner. It was barely a 7 minute conversation, with one interruption, and all I did was hand over my CV to her and tell her I was available to teach or supervise psych interns.
4. As I walked through the building, I felt utterly disappointed and dumbfounded. Dumbfounded, because of the lack of professionalism that was exhibited by Sheila. She is the face of the college (or at least the psych department) and she left a very poor impression on someone who was visiting her organization for the first time hoping to teach there (well, not anymore). Disappointed, because as I looked around the school and saw how poorly maintained it was, with shabby looking classrooms and unkempt restrooms, and really dirty staircases with spit stains on them, I kept thinking to myself: How can we expect our students to take pride in good education when the very educational institutions in which we put our faith and trust in are so poorly kept? How can we make education innovative and inviting when we fail to stay with the times and revamp our establishments and the people they employ?
My journey back home was miserable, me feeling sad and even concerned about what I had just witnessed. The sadness that I was feeling a few days ago has now returned, and I am praying for someone or something to lift this veil of sadness and to give me some hope.