He was about 6 feet tall, had chubby cheeks and wore specs. The memory of the colour of his shirt is faint. I think it was blue or grey. His silvery white hair and beard stood at ends on his scalp and face, as if threatening to cut loose. As we entered the room, he greeted us with his toothy smile and a ‘good morning’. I liked him instantly.
Prof. Rajan Nair, creative director at Omnivore Academy and visiting faculty at MICA, was going to mentor us for the next 4 days, by the end of which I wished he had stayed longer. Everything about him was likeable. His name reminded me of Malgudi days. Swami’s rich friend was named Rajan. The fact that he was there to show us how to write made him very dear to me. It is because of him that I mustered up the courage to start blogging. It was as if he walked in, cut open the tension between me and my craft and all heaven broke loose.
In a day he made us do many exercises that had at least me, thrilled. He showed where to look but not what to see. We found creativity in the most morbid professions like that of an office receptionist. Something that would go on and help us invariably forever was the Creative mnemonic. Together we grouped the essential steps to be creative and arranged them in order. On minimizing them, each one of us created a mnemonic. Mine was RED. What it means? I would love to tell you but then I’d have to kill you!
The biggest hurdle to creativity is habit, says Prof. Rajan. We get stuck in the rut that we ourselves have created and can’t think out of it. Our responses to most problems are through our habit which makes it utterly boring and even useless. Answers involving pee, fishes with fancy names, thinking out of the box, not sticking to one right answer, asking questions, not settling for what is given and grabbing attention through AIDA; I was learning a lot.
Most of all I enjoyed solving a tricky mathematical puzzle. I simply suck at mathematics. It makes me nervous. Even before knowing the question, the fact that it is math, eats up most of my resolve. This time it was different. We had to connect 9 dots with four lines without lifting the pen. It might be easy for you but let me tell you, mathematical puzzles make me sweat bullets. I guess Prof. Rajan’s chubby smile did the trick. I tried and tried and then it hit me that maybe the answer lies out of the box. Walla! I had struck gold and conquered math with creativity. My childhood had officially been vindicated 😀
It was for the first time in all these days that I felt like the right person at the right place at the right time doing the right thing. Defeating your childhood enemy in their own game was a matter of pride. It was a moment of utter delight. I distinctly remember writing about it in my notepad. I was happy. As I sit in my room writing this blog post, I am thinking of all those moments I spent at MICA. They were hilarious, touching, exhilarating and most of all, memorable. From nimbu pani at Chota to morning chai in class; MICA, you will be missed.