Memorable meetings-1: With Coursera, under the cover of rain and darkness!!

Zero Cost MBA_UNESCO presentation_first slide

In past 10 years, I have met many diversified set of people(noble laureates, country ministers, normal people, parliament members, executives, social workers, language partners etc) from around the world. Many of these meetings did not involve in person communication, yet they become memorable for unexplained reasons.
Whether it was asking for directions from a traffic policeman in Istanbul, explaining Indian culture to someone in Japan or trying to practice Spanish despite having very big time difference with my friend in Peru. Each of these events were fruitful in their own ways. In this post, I particularly like to share one such meeting happened just a few weeks earlier.
Earlier this year, I was writing for HT media as an education columnist. This writing assignment was part of my bigger ‘International Marketing’ project (post Zero Cost MBA) to spread the word about online education/MOOC(Massive Open Online Courses) to the Indian people. The English newspaper, ‘The Hindustan Times’ carried out my articles in their Education section on Wednesdays.
Through one such article, Indian marketing team of Coursera(a MOOC provider) got my contact details. They later contacted me to know my perspective about MOOCs in India. I agreed to share just my insight, as I did with some other organizations in past albeit for different purposes. It was different from my other consulting assignments, when I just need to share my own perspective.
A meeting has been planned, with different people from multiple locations were going to join through a conference call. It had to happen sometime late in the night in synchronization of different time zones.Unfortunately, weather turned drastically from god to worst. It has started to rain from the afternoon and expected to rain till the night. Generally, I get problem in getting proper network in my house and for such conference call, speaking in an open area could be better. There is a large stadium in my vicinity with large open area to walk, talk without worrying about any noises or network communication problem.
The time of conference call has arrived. I had to go to stadium, as that was the best place to have a long conversation over phone. But it was raining. Well, I walked out not in my formal dress but house clothes with an umbrella. I wrote conference call codes on a piece of paper and carried it with me. There was no power at my house, when I left home.
I have reached stadium and somehow it has stopped raining. But it may rain again? I just saw a small house towards the other entrance of the stadium. It was a store room and the extended roof of this room can provide shelter and place for a smooth conference call. Looked easy? I still had to cross the stadium to reach the other side. As, I was reaching the time of conference call, I could not go around to escape the mud and wet soil. With no choice in place, I walked on the sticky surface. My sleepers stuck in the mud many times like a glue sticking to them to the surface.
I reached other side with dirty feet. There was still no power and storehouse roof provided a small corridor with approximate dimension of 15×3 to walk freely. The surface was dry on this corridor and I could walk barefoot. Finally, I used my mobile phone light to dial the codes and after 1-2 attempts entered into the conference call.
Compared to other meetings, where I have provided consulting or advice to organizations or start-ups, this was very different. I did not have to listen to expectations, requirements and do some analysis before coming up with something. I did not prepare anything in advance and I did not have to listen much. I was the one who has to speak about my opinion on MOOCs in India. It all came out naturally due to my active involvement from past 2-3 years in this new form of gaining education.
It was one of the best meetings so far as I neither used paper, pen and nor made any notes. After the call ended, I returned home in complete darkness this time with another route.
Done in the complete darkness, I still gets delighted just by thinking of this meeting. I am sure, many of you will be having experience of being part of such meetings on regular occasions. Please share if you have any!

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