After I failed in the third module of the online course, my wife consoled me, “This is not the age for studying, do gardening or go for a walk’.
The failure was a shock, as I was happily sailing along, scoring high in the first two modules and thinking that I was extra smart, and should easily be able to complete the course by June this year.
I was told that the module would have to be repeated and the fees had to be paid again. When I was working in the Arab Gulf, we would calculate how much the vegetables cost in Indian Rupees and go: “OMG, tomatoes are that much!”
And now that we are in India, I checked on the currency calculator how much the course cost in dollars and nearly choked on my masala dosa.
“Maybe, I should do a course locally or attend one of those free webinars. I don’t have Indian parents who will pay for my education,” I told my wife, but the course on Immigration Law had to be done at a Canadian school, and only after passing the 20 modules would I be able to hang my credentials on the wall of my home office and practice as an immigration consultant, and each module was running in the thousands of rupees.
My survival instincts kicked in and I begged and pleaded and humiliatingly also brought my age into the discussion: “Please, can’t you give me an additional five marks (that’s all I needed for a pass). Isn’t there some leeway for senior students?”
I got into this crazy pursuit for knowledge after reading about an Indian civil servant who on retiring said he was going to study for a medical degree. “Learning should never stop just because you are old and decrepit and can’t remember your children’s names,” he said, or I think that’s what he said. I got further motivated reading a hilarious and bitter-sweet account of a matronly woman in the States who rejoined university in her sunset years, to get a degree.
I have two degrees. One is a Bachelor’s in Science, and I remember my friend and I nearly killed the lecturer and fellow students by creating unknowingly, a huge, dark cloud of smoke in the laboratory and everyone had to run out choking and gasping.
The other is a Bachelor’s in Journalism, which I acquired thankfully much before people stopped trusting journalists, and much before shouting TV anchors, took away the last vestige of honour in the profession that brought useful news and thoughtful discourse to the populace.
The other thing that pushed me into studying again was that I was fed up being on a perpetual staycation in the apartment and told that I can’t go out because of a crazy coronavirus bug, and was becoming an addict of doomsday news. I always wanted to do a course on Immigration after attending seminars and watched how people are desperate for new lives and new careers but did not know how to reach their goals.
Human trafficking is huge in this age where jobs are scarce, and thousands get duped by unscrupulous agents who take families for a dangerous ride into the criminal side of migration. But studying, at any age, to become savvy in a particular field and help people, is tough, and a student blogger gave me some useful tips:
1) Keep track of time (with the help of any of the digital apps)
2) Eat nutritious foods
3) Exercise (even for five minutes)
3) Sleep well
4) Don’t study in a bedroom, as the bed will call no matter how close the deadline for the assignment.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi