Chotti peered at Khushi and touched her forehead. “Theek toh hain aap? Bukhaar toh nahi hai?”
“Never felt better.” She twirled on her toes in a smooth motion.
“Mom!” Chotti hissed. “Kya kar rahi ho?”
Khushi pinched her cheeks. “Apni beti ke saath masti kar rahi hoon. Koi problem?”
Chotti shook her head and threw up her hands. “Yeh koi jagah…”
“Oho!” Khushi’s eyes rounded. She smacked herself. “Main toh bhool hi gayi thi! Tum bhi toh ASR ho.” She turned to Anya. “Pata hai it never struck me until Shubham pointed it out.”
“Yehi ki Chotti bhi ASR hai.” She giggled and hugged her.
“Mom! Are you drunk or something?”
Khushi nodded. “Or something.” She winked.
“Pata nahi Mom ko kya ho gaya hai.” Chotti despaired.
“Kuch nahi Chotti,” Anya said, “She’s just letting down her hair. Learning to live. Again. Like she said. Mahol hi kuch aisa hai.” She put an arm around Khushi and hugged her.
“Whatever!” Chotti dismissed. “Let’s hurry otherwise we’ll miss the talk.”
“Talk? What talk? I don’t want to go to any talk shalk.” Khushi objected even as she fell in step.
“Haan. Aapko talk karna hai na!” Chotti pulled her along. “Kabhi kabhi sun bhi liya karo talks. Who knows kuch naya kuch interesting, kuch life ke baare mein naya kuch pata chale?”
“Woh sab toh theek hai. But will I understand?”
“Of course Mom. It’s not rocket science. It’s a public talk on metacognition.”
“Woh kya hai!” Khushi dug her heels in.
But Chotti pulled her along. “Wohi toh pata karna hai. Come on Mom. Come out of your shell. Not just dance, not just live, you need to learn also.”
The Sun dimmed. “Hume nahi learn karna.” Khushi said. “I am too old.”
“Nonsense. No one is ever too old to learn anything new. Besides, this guy is very good. You must listen to him Mom.” Chotti exhorted. “It’s time to broaden your horizons. Remember Nani kya kehti thi?
“ Don’t be a Kupa Mundaka.”
“What’s that?” Anya asked.
“Mom will tell you,” Chotti said as they reached the venue of the lecture.
“Tum batao.” Khushi was in a huff.
“Kyon? Aap bhool gayin kya?” Chotti grinned. “Sit here.” Chotti guided them inside. “Keep a seat for me. I need to have a word with my professor. Tab tak aap Di ko samjhao.”
“Haan batao Mami?’ Anya urged.
“Kupa Mundaka ek Sanskrit kahavat hai jiska matlab hai the frog in the well. The frog which stays only in the well only sees things from a narrow perspective. Uske liye the well is their entire world, uske beyond bhi kuch hai, samajh hi nahi aata.”
“Is liye,” Chotti slipped into the empty seat between them, “you should get out of your well, meet new people, experience new things, get a different perspective. Apne soch ka dayra badhayein.”
“Ab tu mujhe sikhayegi?” Khushi glared at her.
“Arre! Yeh toh Dad ki line hai.”
“That sounded exactly like something like Dad would say – in English.” Chortled Chotti. “Looks like Dad has really rubbed off on you. Lekin iss akkad se toh accha kuch aur seekh lete.”
Khushi flushed and mumbled.
“Aww Mom,” Chotti said, “I was just kidding. Where’s my masti wali Mom? Abhi abhi toh yahin thi. Wapas Delhi bhej diya ka? Dad ko company dene?”
Khushi looked straight ahead and grimaced.
“But seriously Mom,” Chotti put out a hand and forced her to look at her. “Kisiko toh sikhana padega na?” Chotti said cheekily. “Hamesha aap hi kyon lecture dein? Mera time kab ayega?” She leaned over and hugged her. “Come on Mom. Admit it. You had a good time here.” It was a statement not a question. Khushi swallowed and nodded. “Dance sikhake bhi accha laga. Par uske pehle kitna stressed out thi. Kabhi yeh problem, kabhi woh, thoda sa bhi leeway diya hota na toh you would have backed out. Phir itna badiya experience miss kar deti na?” She turned to Anya. “Di, I am so glad you pushed Mom out of that well.” She grinned at Khushi’s affronted face. “You need to step out of your comfort zone. See and learn new things. You have so much potential and talent. Don’t let it go waste. Now shush.”
As the stage came alive Chotti turned to face the stage while Khushi grappled with her overflowing emotions. It wouldn’t do to start crying here. What would everybody think? Chotti ki beiizzati ho jayegi. Par rona kyon aa raha hai? Why was she upset? Was she upset or emotional. Par emotional kyon? Because aisa laga ki Chotti ab uski Amma hai. Aur Anya ne hume force kiya yahan aane ke liye? I thought I forced her….
“Unnhh,” Khushi came out of her thoughts with a start as Chotti nudged her and nodded towards the stage as the welcome formalities were over and the speaker had taken centre stage.
Khushi sighed. Better pay attention Parmeswari. Lagta hai Chotti is on your case and questions bhi poochegi. Hum bhi keh denge yeh complicated lecture vecture hume samajh nahi aata. Aur woh bhi metacognition – cognition hi nahi pata kya hai…
But to her utter surprise, she was instantly captivated and engrossed in the talk ki ek ghanta ka pata hi nahi chala. She felt as if the speaker was talking to her directly. In fact, referring to her and only her in his entire talk. The gist of the talk stayed with her for a long time.
What? Aap logo ko bhi jaanna hai ki kya talk tha? Metacognition kya hai? Google kar lo na. Oho theek hai. Gist jo Khushi ko impact kiya woh summarize karne ki koshish karti hoon. Baki Google aunty bata dengi theek hai?
The talk began with a clipping from the 70s South African movie “Animals are Beautiful People”. It was banned because of apartheid and later we had the DVD which we watched over and over again. There are a few clips on YouTube but mostly blocked. At least in India. Anyway, the movie is little stories about animals with an amazing voice over (I hope I remember it correctly). There was one particular clip where monkeys stole eggs and gorged on them. Their activities were watched over with great interest by meerkats. Clearly the eggs were to die for. After sometime, one of them stole an egg. But now his problem began. Normally meerkats dig for food, so they put the egg in front of them and hysterically dug the sand around it, because that’s the way they normally got at their food.
Of course they got nothing out of the rather uncooperative egg this way and it was hilarious to see them try over and over again.
They changed tactics and tried to hug and crush the egg but it kept slipping out of their grasp or they ended up somersaulting over the egg. As you can imagine, another a hilarious little scene.
But the key point of the clip was that people (and animals) try to do things the same old way. Even if it meets with failure. At least the meerkat realized the futility of the first approach and changed its approach.
And that is at the core of boosting metacognition, which denotes ‘thinking about thinking.’ Edison is often credited with 3,000 attempts before hitting upon the right filament. The story is meant to underscore the importance of hard work. And his famous quote “genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” But the point that often gets lost is that in the 3000 attempts, Edison constantly learned from his mistakes, refined and adapted his approach. Not just hard work but smart work is key and involves having a strategic mindset. This describes the tendency to question and refine your current approach in the face of setbacks and challenges. Instead of opting for the same time tested path (despite it failing) those with a strategic mindset constantly innovate and devise more effective ways.
Suppose your goal is on the other side of the wall. Each time you crash against the wall. You try harder and harder but the wall doesn’t break (This is where Khushi sat up. Wasn’t ASR the wall? Wasn’t her goal – Arnav – across the wall?) What do you do? Do you keep at banging your head against the wall (like the meerkat dug around the egg for what was inside it) because that is the only way you know? (Yes. That was exactly what she was doing with ASR) Or do you take a step back and see how you can change your strategy. Perhaps bypass the wall completely. Perhaps find that chink in that wall. Perhaps take a longer route –The question is are you trying harder and harder or are you also learning from your mistakes? By all means work hard and keep working towards your goals but there is a lot to be said about adapting and refining your approach with the help of strategic thinking. That was key to saving yourself a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
[Just in case anyone wants to read the original article which inspired this – https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200722-the-mindset-you-need-to-succeed-at-every-goal?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits%5D
Khushi’s heart thudded. She went hot and cold. She wasn’t learning from her mistakes.
She needed to do some strategic thinking.
Err kuch zyaada lecture ho gaya kya?
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