Today, as I read and hear about the probe New Horizons and its fly-by around Pluto, my mind is flooded with memories of my first school named New Horizon, near Beltala, Kolkata. I must have spent some 2 years there, at the age of 4-5 years (it was such a small school that they probably do not have a website either, so I have no picture of my first school, unfortunately!).
I write this blog to say how New Horizon taught me a few things important for life!
The school was close to my place. I would generally walk to my school with my maid. On the way, there was a foot path with milk chocolate coloured squares, and since I loved Cadbury’s (that was a generic name for all chocolates in those days, as it was the only chocolate available in India) I would love to walk on that. My sisters and parents even nick named that footpath as Cadbury footpath!
I still remember that I would like to go to school early, and choose my table and chair – red in colour. There was only one set of each colour, so red was something we kids ran to get hold of. One day there was this guy whole ‘stole’ my red table and chair, and I was so annoyed that I picked a fight with him. The class teacher was very nice, she explained to me to take another set of table and chair, as it was not that important, it did not matter in the class.
That was a life’s lesson learnt – learning matters and not something superfluous.
We even had a rest period, where we kids would go to a reasonably big hall and lie down on ‘chatai’ or a thin straw carpet. There was this obnoxious girl who would lie next to me and do some horrible gestures (she was 4, and so was I, imagine!!), till the teacher noticed and asked her to stay from me!
Another of life’s lesson learnt – choose your friends carefully.
I don’t remember doing anything remarkable in the school, but I knew that the principal, with silvery gray hair, short and cropped, always in a crisp pastel coloured cotton sarees, used to like me. Soon I shifted to a bigger school, and the New Horizon school also shifted to a larger premises, and all was forgotten, until a few days ago…………………………
Later in life, I chose to do Physics, and I love my subject. I eat, and breathe science (mostly Physics) all the time; I am absolutely passionate about disseminating it through my writings and workshops. Sometimes I feel that it is unfortunate that I do not hold a permanent job (many unforeseen reasons for that) , but so be it……….it does not in any way diminish my passion and enthusiasm for science at all.
And as I watch the images of Nasa’s New Horizons fly by of Pluto, I feel how hard the team must have worked for years and years; I can feel their excitement and pride. It is indeed a definite milestone for human explorations and endeavours, and an absolute technological and scientific feat.
Another of life’s very important lesson on display now – for anything big to succeed – hard work, dedication, vision, leadership, years of planning are definitely needed. And collaborations between large teams – the order of the day!
I hope the New Horizons team get more funding and continue to explore Kuiper Belt objects long after the Pluto mission is over. Good luck to them; now I wait to watch the TV program Eating Breakfast with Pluto presented by my favourite science presenter Neil deGrasse Tyson!
Aside: Two things are very close to my heart – science/technology progress and women’s issues. I just heard today on CNN that in the New Horizons project 25% of the team are women. Hurray! Great going girls!