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Fare Thee Well

Lord Byron wrote these words when he finally separated from his wife. The same words were also mentioned in Folk Ballads in late 1700s to early 1800s where lovers going away on a journey bid goodbye and wish well for the other. “Fare thee well” was originally a verbal phrase, according to the English Language & Usage blog. It meant, “to bid or wish someone to have success in some venture, in the form of a polite command”. I, for one, heard these words first in a motion-picture soundtrack called Inside Llewyn Davis (recommended watch).

I was a part of a farewell today. In fact, it was a farewell to bid fare-thee-well to me. I had always heard, “Oh! It's routine. Farewells are boring”. Farewells are looked at as a must-do-but-cant-be-exciting affairs. In the administrative set up, the daily drudgery and overworked nature of the job can let you miss the excitement of day-to-day life and it can reflect in interpersonal communications and often dry, irritating-like-a-broken-record get togethers. “In a farewell you must always arrive late and always leave first if you can. It will save your energy”, I was told.

It was wrong, I was wrong.

In this particular farewell I understood what it means “to be moved”, what it means to “work like a family", and somehow how one can miss noticing an existing healthy work environment, especially when it's a short stint. To imagine a person can shed tears, on you leaving office, only having worked 45 odd days with you. The emotion is not just personal, it’s palpable, its communicable, it’s in the air. A few moist eyes today made the air seem a lot heavier, lot more difficult, lot more bitter-sweet.

A farewell is not just a goodbye. Its many things, few of them as below :

  1. Its an All-The-Best for the upcoming challenges and adventures

  2. Its a confidence in your abilities to move forward and succeed

  3. Its a Vote of Thanks

  4. Its a platform to let emotions through. To cherish the togetherness and celebrate the past

But there is one thing that no one tells you about farewells. They do say all good things about you at the farewells but often there are “Good Blind Sides” that we miss in the daily life and the farewell reveals. Blind sides are things which one does not know about themselves but others know. (Refer - But blind sides usually have a negative connotation. Being rude to people, being overtly micromanaging, being aloof, etc. But farewells reveal the good parts of blind side too. Sometimes you get the validation for the things you never sought it for, and that’s exhilarating, it caresses the fire within and propels it forward.

A woman colleague walked upto the stage today and she said, “Sir, out of all the things others have said, having a substantial amount of women in the office, I would like to say that none of us ever felt Asurakshit(unsafe) within the office, we always felt respected and safe. We thank you for that.” It’s difficult to explain the emotion that erupted within me at that moment. Now after a few hours have passed, the emotion is of satisfaction and pride, but this is filtered and precipitated emotion. The momentary realisation that occurred was far more real, was far more important. I treat a colleague or a subordinate similarly, irrespective of gender. Everybody gets scolded, everybody gets praised, everybody gets cared for. But is this not base-level normal human interaction model ? For natural behaviour to be appreciated, in the moment it made me feel guilty, as a society, for the society. Has the graph of basic dignified interaction fallen so much that baseline seems super-normal ? Should women not naturally feel safe and respected within an office set-up ? I thought about what all, if at all, I did for them to be appreciated and only one thing came to mind. I got the women’s toilet cleaned regularly since I received a complaint in my first week itself. Is that such a big achievement ? Is it something to be proud of ? Shouldn’t women and men both get all their ‘Hygiene Needs’ (Refer - satisfied in an office space to be motivated further ? Especially when that office space is the cutting-edge of local governance, a space for civil and public servants ?

Although now I feel good about myself, but that just a manufactured and deliberated post-event feeling. The actual feeling was of shame and guilt as a society. And thus these words needed to be written. As Civil Servants our workspaces in the field are not usually upto the mark and our work cultures are at best a top-down “scowl and shout method”. Workspaces are where we spend most of our time (Refer - -

It’s the HODs and leaders in the governmental set up who decide how an office runs, how the workflow happens and how people interact with each other. Let your offices be more secure and friendly. Let them be more space-y than stocky. Let the conversation flow both ways, as it must. And, let the “Service” start from within, in the office space itself.

We often hear of officers doing wonderful things in their districts. Addressing grievances and relieving anxieties of many and more, especially the last in the queue. These officers often get local stardom and social-media fan base. There are always advocates for aam-aadmi and bade-aadmi, well mostly. But seldom does the infamous babudom bureaucracy especially the subordinate tiers get a chance to even voice grievances. They often toil in silence and hence loose motivation resulting in a lack of both intent and skill. It’s a recipe for disaster. The “thick-skinned babu” often gets their hide from this constant friction that doesn’t get addressed. It’s as if the system grinds them to create mental calluses that become impenetrable to shouts, screams and scowls and desensitised from suffering of common junta. Even threats of suspension or salary cuts does not penetrate this. But calluses are dead skin. There are always live blood tissues beneath them, keeping the human alive, keeping a window open for change. Find that window, give it a shake. Some shattered windowpanes may fall and rattle you, but have patience. Get through across the window and find the resource that you need. Give it a prod of motivation and see it blossom and shine.

And when in the next farewell you find another “Good Blind Side” - spot, understand, write, review, learn, implement and run with it, as fast as you can !!

PS - All pictures are from field visits during a tenure as Janpad CEO, Sonkatch, Dewas (MP)


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댓글 2개

Rajesh Kumar Thakur
Rajesh Kumar Thakur
2023년 8월 25일

The fact that women in our country still feel that clean public toilets are a luxury (esp in rural India) shows the amount of work still left to be done.


Arvind Shah
Arvind Shah
2023년 5월 14일

Feels like reliving my janpad days. Almost same feeling, same thoughts, same reflections and same reactions. Though I doubt I will be able to write it out as good as you did.

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