Archive for generations

Creativity

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2012 by javedbabar

The Jobs of the Future program was in trouble. How could Shama achieve his goal of doubling training numbers when budgets seemed to halve each year? He knew that the MD was stealing funds, but Shama had only just started as Training Director, and afraid that if he said anything he would lose his job.

He would have to be smart with his use of funds. Who was best to focus attention on? Which group would be most receptive?

He could target seniors, the most out of touch with technology. His efforts there could make their generation economically active. He could target middle-aged people needing to brush up their skills. He could boost productivity of younger workers, and empower the engine of the local economy. Or maybe it was best to focus on children. Yes, that would be the best long-term investment.

The Headmistress welcomed him to the Elementary school. She said, “The children are excited. Their whole life is the future. Some have troubled pasts, it’s true, and we do the best we can for them. We believe there’s hope for every little person here.”

Shama stopped to admire some drawings pinned to the wall. Talking puddings and ants made of jelly – how did they conceive of such things?

That’s it! he thought. He said, “Mrs Johnson, I won’t be needing that projector after all. I’ve had a better idea. Do you have colored pens and paper?”

“For you, or for the class?”

“For everyone. I think that today is a good day for drawing.”

The class was well behaved but restless. The boys especially were itching to speak to him. Once Shama was introduced, a ginger boy put up his hand and shouted, “Do you really have a job in the future?”

Rather than speaking about the future, he thought that Shama was from the future. Before he could correct him, another boy shouted, “What is it? Do you make robots?”

A girl said, “Do you fly spaceships?”

The questions became more general.

“Is it true that you can live inside video games?”

“Can you grow and then eat your own clothes?”

“Can you make sweat into water, for people who live in deserts?”

Shama smiled and said, “Sorry to disappoint you all. I am from today, like you are. I hope that I will have a job in the future, and I hope that you will too, a job that you love, and at which you are brilliant. But I am here today to tell you about the skills you will need to do those jobs.”

He ran through the key areas – pattern recognition, common sense, creativity, imagination, people skills, technical awareness, and clarity. He asked them to draw how they would use those skills.

The children produced the craziest drawings he had ever seen. Some also made models. He was thrilled by their enthusiasm and creativity. Kids are amazing!

At the end of the class he said, “Don’t forget to take these home to show to your brothers and sisters, and parents and grandparents.” Their drawings stuck to fridges, and their models on coffee tables, would be daily reminders to all generations of skills required for jobs of the future.

Seven Generations

Posted in Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Nobody in the village had spoken to Breda for twenty four years. Seven generations ago, one of her ancestors had committed a crime, and since then all villagers had shunned her family.  The Nooranis were Quieted, which meant that they were not to be spoken to or spoken about, ever. It was as if they didn’t exist.

Life continued though, and they quietly went about their business in the Upper Valley. They were farmers and thus largely self-sufficient. They had all the food they needed – roots, fruits, meat and veggies –and could make do with or mend most objects. They were also able to trade with out-of-towners, who held no taboos, and engaged with them freely, but Lucerne’s citizens kept away from them entirely.

The only exception was shopping. They were allowed to buy what they needed from the grocery and hardware stores, but always in silence. Mt Alba and Mt Negra – the white and black peaks at opposite ends of the Valley – had been better companions to Breda growing up than anybody in Lucerne.

“Good day, love,” said the grocery store cashier. “How are you doing today?”

Breda dropped her cabbage. Somebody had spoken to her! How? Why? What for?

The cashier continued, “How was your weekend? Boy, it was hot on Sunday. Did you take a dip in the lake?”

Breda said, “Excuse me, are you talking to me?”

“Sure I am. I quit talking to myself years ago. I always chat to my customers. That’s the difference between this place and a box store. We give you personal service. Wasn’t it…”

Breda interrupted. “Do you know who I am? I’m a Noorani.”

“Yes, yes, I know that. Who doesn’t? But that’s neither here nor there now, isn’t it? The baby must be coming soon. When’s it due?”

Breda held onto the conveyor belt. So that was it! It was her baby! The child would be born of the eighth generation, and the taboo would be ended.

“Oh, I see you’ve got some nappies. You’ll be needing plenty of those! You might want to get a bigger pack next time. You’ll get through those in a flash. Do you want to change the pack? I’m sure the people behind you won’t mind much. They’ll understand the situation. Wait! You don’t want to walk up and down the aisle in your condition. Let me call one of the assistants…”

Breda was lost for words. This rush of engagement was overwhelming. It was like a desert becoming a lake. She was not ready to respond.

For Breda’s twenty four years of life, nobody in the village had spoken to her or her family. She had been made an outcast for crimes that had nothing to do with her at all. She didn’t even know what her great-great-great-great grandmother had done in the first place, and what was the chance of a fair trial for women in those days? Was there even any evidence? It was likely a baseless accusation for personal reasons, by a vicious neighbour, a zealous parishioner, or greedy rival.

Breda declined the cashier’s offer of getting a bigger pack of nappies. She bagged her own items and headed out of the store.

Two women passing greeted her effusively. “Oh Breda! Look at you now! When’s it due?” These were girls that she had studied with. They’d not spoken to her during her schooldays – never, ever – yet now asked after her mother and sisters. She didn’t know what to say to them, so grunted and headed to her truck.

A guy in a white half-sleeved shirt, on his lunch break from the bank, helped to load her groceries into the cab. He asked after her brother, to whom he had never spoken.

Breda started the truck and headed up the Lucerne Valley Road. As she rounded a bend near the river, she saw more people she knew that had never, ever spoken to her. They now waved cheerily and made signs to call them.

Breda considered swinging her truck towards them. Hitting them hard and sending their bodies flying into the river. These people had condemned her for things she hadn’t done; at least then they would have a reason to hate her and the next seven generations of her family. But then she thought, why not make this eight generation different?