My jog and the thinktank experience
I woke up a bit early in the morning and got ready for the jog. The cold breeze blew on my face as I come out of my building. As usual, the roads are deserted on weekends and holidays. Slowly started taking long strides and crossed road headed towards the park. After few meters, got to cross another road, waited for the green light and comes the sound beep.. beep.. beep, sign to cross the road.
1st lap (adjustment and learning phase):
Entered the park, started my first lap. I could smell sweet jasmine, turned left saw white flowers, which I did not see three months back. Took few steps and could not believe that three months have passed in a blink of an eye. I still remember March 5th in Frankfurt airport, I did not see pick up guy in the departure terminal. I gazed all around for a while and gave up, came out of airport took a taxi and rode to Darmstadt. I have realized that it would not be holiday trip, got to adjust for new things and learn many more.
Adjustment and learning’s: Indians are known for the adjustment, relatively we don’t much complain. If we don’t adjust to the country like India with so many cultures and languages there will not be any peace. By the way what all the things did I adjusted for:
Language: Most of the people here in Germany don’t speak English. Especially, German is very tough to learn and has a complicated grammar with long words. I tried to observe their facial expression to understand what they intend to say. Learned few words like:
· Good morgen (morning) : This is the most familiar word I know in German, which I usually wish to the known faces in the morning jog
· Pomes (Potato, fries): Fries has become my staple food. Where ever I go, I will look for Pomes in the menu chart; by chance, if they don’t have pomes, then no looking back at that restaurant again.
· Danke shu ( thank you): I am not sure, the spelling even now. But I mostly heard this word and in return, I heard people saying Pitashu like welcome.
· Nein (No): When I ask people in English, I heard many of the times responding Nein. Later, I understood it is strict “no”. So I remembered -old Mcdonald had a farm song from my daughter and she says horse sound neigh!! Neigh! Very similar to nein
People: Obviously, we need to get adjusted to the people whom we work with. There is no surprise in the new team, particularly if people coming from different part of the world it is more critical to understand their behavior.
Process: The first month went so fast. I always cannot initiate the process if I don’t know the end point of a task. I can’t jump in randomly and do things. The most important thing was I got adjusted with “go with the flow” concept.
Liquid Biopsy: I only know that liquid biopsy is a surrogate of tissue biopsy. I never heard about circulating tumor cells and cell-free DNA in my masters or in doctoral studies. The few lectures in London symposium went over my head. Later, learned about these terms from colleagues and research articles.
Food and water is the only thing which I have not adjusted. Food I managed with my culinary skills making dal, egg bujji, rice, egg plant curry, upma and so on. The cost of water is more than beer and mostly they serve sparkling water. I should see the face of bearer if I ask for apple juice and still water in bar/restaurant during team dinner and outings. They almost look me like an alien.
2nd lap (manage and consolidate):
I think my muscles got warmed up and I am in a good rhythm. I understood how my body reacts if I put pressure on my toes to increase the pace and how to control breath for not hitting the wall during the jog. During the thinktank program I also understood how to manage the time and people. I am successful in delivering the things on time and consolidating the findings. In addition, I also learned how to manage the emotions during the discussions. The best part of the second month programme was my illustrations and I never thought that it would be helpful in the programme. However, it took back me to my childhood days. We made prototypes/illustrations and they depicted the concept really well.
3rd lap (Practice and deliver)
Wow, I am on the third lap, still feeling energetic. We got used to the environment in the innovation center. Committee had finalized two topics to work on, we started to deliver the needs of the committee and fill the gaps in the story by narrowing to one specific application as advised by our mentors. We had few ups and downs; sometimes felt the story is not so great and sometimes good enough for the pitch. Need to do many changes every day in and out and finally had to practice the pitch. I think we never did these many rehearsals for our PhD thesis, all the final pitches are flawless, no one ever stumbled and all the teams delivered the pitch in 10 minutes. The experience was great, we had learned how to adapt to new things and most importantly how to deliver our best. I would like to congratulate all the think tank colleagues and felicitators, who are part of my wonderful experience. When I hit roadblock in future, I would like to come back to this page and read the blog just to assure myself how we delivered and survived.
4th Lap (Extra-long hours and fun):
I finished 3 laps, I want to stretch it to another two laps. The extra laps remind me the extra-long hours we spent in innovation center. Average time we logged out from the office was 6.30 – 7.00 PM. By the time we come back home from office after dinner, it used to be 9.30PM. It also reminds me the extra fun we had during the outings. Each one was equally good, but my favorite was swim in Mediterranean sea near Montpellier (France) and hike to Sea of rocks near Bensheim (Germany). I never swam in any big river or oceans before. But I love to swim, initially, the water was cold but after few minutes the body got adjusted and started feeling comfortable. I felt so relaxed, as I don’t see any people around me and I was alone swimming deep into the sea. There is no noise, no clutter; I am weightless in the water. With each stroke, I am gently moving forward and I was just being one with nature. Similarly, after the long 9 Km walk from Bensheim, the challenging hike on to the sea of rocks is incredible. I was perfusing sweat, my mind was calm and, I was just one with nature and moving forward without any reason.
5th Lap (Pack up):
Finally, in the 5th lap. My calf muscles are aching, probably lactic acid concentration is increasing. By the way, I am more worried about fatty acids than lactic acids. Because of the stress, sometimes I used to overeat. Though I don’t have a great variety of choices but had tried various fast food centers serving French fries. I think I had covered pretty all of them including, McDonalds, KFC, Burger king, Doner and many others. I can see my belly popping out now; I had an urge to go for another lap. But, I think I need some energy to go back to India and play with my daughter.. J