Of Goodness and Being Human – A Coversation with Dr Randhir Auluck

Of all the interviews I have been fortunate to have done, there have been a remarkable few when my talkative,  Imageargumentative and inquisitive self had been silenced into complete awe, admiration, and humility. Meeting and talking to Dr Randhir Auluck was definitely one of them. To begin with, there is Dr Auluck’s spell-binding profile versatility. She is a politician, contesting the Coventry UK 2014 elections representing the Labour Party. She is an eminent academician, teaching at the Coventry University as a principal lecturer. She is also, hold your breath, a sitting magistrate at the Criminal and Family Courts in Coventry, UK. She is a working mother, her hands full with managing an active 11-year old. And above all, she is friendly, very down-to-earth, and makes you feel at ease within a few seconds of talking to her. She lets the other person indulge in their disagreements and differences in view points, and gently prods to let the other person express their thoughts.

The long enlightening chat I had with her could actually be bound into a sizeable book. The selfish soul that I am, I intend to treasure and keep most of it to myself, sharing only a few excerpts of that talk. 🙂 Read on…

 

RC Bean: In one line, what would you say defines you?

Dr Auluck: What characterises me is the ability to utilise every opportunity that comes along…

RC Bean: And a question you have faced very often…

Dr Auluck: The question I am often asked is how I’ve got to be where I am, and do all those things that I do… I am asked how I made it this far, so easily… And I tell them it’s never easy… it’s like the movement of a duck… there’s a heavy pedalling under water, although I seem calm on the surface…

RC Bean: I see what you mean… It must have been one tough journey for you to be here today… Have there been external forces that helped you along as well? 

Dr Auluck: I have been very fortunate to have met many wonderful people who have helped me… There was this gentleman I met in South Africa – an eminent British person who presented me with a wonderful chance that paved way for the foundation of my political life. I would also say that the experience of living in South Africa itself was a force that pushed me to where I am now. I was so struck with how vibrant it was to be in politics. It made me so much more aware of things to be done, seeing the vision that my friends were striving for, which made me want to do more when I came back to the UK.

RC Bean: Wow! Clearly, spending some time in South Africa has had a tremendous positive impact on you, hasn’t it? 

Dr Auluck: It has indeed. I have many fond memories of the place…

RC Bean: And while we speak about where you are at the moment, if I asked you which decision in life would you go back and correct if you had a chance, what would your pick be? 

Dr Auluck: Well I won’t deny that I might have done some things different… but I have to admit that all of those setbacks have contributed to who I am today… even the struggles have made a contribution.

RC Bean: But isn’t there just one moment or point in time that you wish you had better responded to? 

Dr Auluck: Well I wish I had been more courageous at certain times – there was a phase when I was lacking confidence and I didn’t push some things as far as I should have.

RC Bean: Hmmm… When you say you didn’t push enough, do you refer to what you believe to be your capability levels, or pushing as hard as some others? 

Dr Auluck: Well, it’s interesting that you pointed out the difference. It could generally mean both, but in this instance I didn’t compare myself with anyone else. I was talking about my own capacities and stretching them. But having said that, one thing I’ve learnt is that finding peace in life is about finding your zone and your space, and realistically knowing what you’re capable of… I can look at some people and admire them for the way they are, but I don’t want to be striving to do what others do.

RC Bean: Well isn’t it slightly ironical then when we say we get into something, inspired by someone else, or when we say we mend our ways, trying to emulate someone else who is more ethical? 

Dr Auluck: That’s a valid point. But there should be a line drawn somewhere, shouldn’t it?

RC Bean: Right, I agree too… Maybe we should aim to get inspired by goodness but not let someone else’s greatness make us feel small about our own mediocrity… 

Dr Auluck: Absolutely, I love your differentiation of goodness and greatness… It reminds me of this time when I graduated from university. I had had a very sheltered and traditional upbringing, and didn’t have a lot of social exposure. So upon graduating, I didn’t want to go back home. I wanted to see the outside world, literally! I saw this advert calling for an aid worker in a hostel for single homeless men in Swansea. I decided to apply and turned up to attend the interview…

[There is a noticeable pause…]

RC Bean (eagerly): And… you absolutely fell in love with the place? 

Dr Auluck (laughs out loud): I was repulsed! It was the most shocking place I had ever seen… The inmates were totally vulnerable, frail and ill, mentally and physically – there were all people who had been chucked out by the society and this was their last hope. If not for this shelter, they would have been left on the streets to die…

RC Bean (stunned and speechless): … 

Dr Auluck (smiles): But to give some credit to your eager guess, I have to admit that I did fall in love with the human spirit exhibited there. The people who ran the place were all young, but they were zealous in doing their bit for others. So although the place was horrid, I was struck by their dedication, their solidarity of purpose. In fact it made me wonder if these other young people can do it, why not me? Every molecule in my body was screaming at me to run away from the place, but I felt that this was the place for me to start.

RC Bean: And did the start give you what you were seeking? 

Dr Auluck: Well it was one of the worst sides of the society… and it was a very dramatic life there. I was physically assaulted by a resident once – of course he didn’t know what he was doing because he wasn’t in his senses… And in all that drama, I saw a lot of faith in humanity and I felt it pull me towards certain spheres in life – politics, teaching, justice… That start taught me that it is so easy to be self-serving, but what really counts is when we do tiny bits of help for people who can’t speak for themselves or fend for themselves…

RC Bean: Hmmm… 

Dr Auluck (smiles): You don’t look very convinced, RCB…

RC Bean: It’s not that I’m not convinced. I’m just not the kind of person who would get judgemental about someone who is self-serving. You see, I believe there are two kinds of fulfilment. One comes when you attain personal goals, be better off than peers and see your loved ones happy. There’s the other kind that you spoke of – the fulfilment that comes when you take care of others. But for me to accept that the latter is the way to be, is a bit hard to digest… What’s wrong with a person being self-serving?

Dr Auluck: There is nothing wrong in being either way… I just believe that the latter pays off. After involving myself in various social activities, I spent a few years in France with my son. Circumstances hit us hard and we came back to the UK, penniless. If not for the help from good Samaritans, we would have perished. Bread loaves, food vouchers, donations from charity, shelter for the night, you name it, we were given all of them… I didn’t even have to go and seek help. We were in the middle of nowhere, but when people heard about our plight, word spread and they used to leave food and clothes in our doorstep. We had help from good-hearted folks from far off, in remote villages. These were not the people I helped. But what I did had its consequences and helped my child and me. I believe in that sort of a…

[a pause…]

RC Bean: Karma? 

Dr Auluck: Right! Karma… Life experiences thwart the goodness in people at times… But the human spirit is massively resilient… There are thankfully enough good people that outweigh the other kind…

RC Bean: So life paid you back then… 

Dr Auluck: It did, and it has only reinforced my beliefs on this. If it were a choice between achieving my career ambition versus making a positive contribution, I would choose the latter. Sometimes you need to be quite ruthless to have those trappings of success. I prefer being less successful, but more human…

RC Bean: I see your line of thinking now… Is teaching part of that belief system as well, then? Is that one of the reasons you chose that line of profession?

Dr Auluck: Absolutely! Even if one student gets the point I am making, it makes me happy. It feels wonderful to see the change when the light switch goes on and a student’s face brightens up in understanding. And with some students, I feel I can push them harder than others, to let them see all possibilities.

RC Bean: And I’m sure it would make a positive change in the society as well, because these students form a chunk of it… A lot of those points are definitely thought-provoking… What else would your suggestions on living life be, apart from doing one’s bit to the world?

Dr Auluck: Well you see there are very little rules to live life… There is always a subjective element… As we saw even during our discussion, I may have a rationale for believing in the things I believe in, but they may not appeal to you… So giving generalised suggestions may not work… But if there’s one point I’d like to share, it would be that it’s easy to drown in the mess that a person sees around them… And I don’t want to give the cliché of living life to the maximum, but I do believe that the way to survive in the mess, is to live in harmony with those around you… It doesn’t help if one sees things in straight lines with very rigid and fixed views… we need to learn to live like in a optician store… wearing different lenses and empathising with different viewpoints…

RC Bean: That was a completely new way of looking at getting through the mess… and it definitely sounds within reach and doable… Although I would love for us to chat on, I’d hate to keep your other appointments waiting… I guess this would sadly have to be the end of this conversation… Thanks for a great chat, Dr Auluck!

photo2

Dr Auluck: Well, thank you RCB for the lovely time. I liked each of your questions and counter-points. You brought up so many dimensions, instead of making this a generic interview. I thoroughly enjoyed it! This was certainly one of the best conversations I have had! I look forward to reading more of your writing too…

 

RC Bean: Wow! Coming from you, those words mean a lot to me… Thanks Dr Auluck. So long. Be seeing you then…

Dr Auluck: Good bye, RCB. Wish you the best!

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. What a tough interview and yet so wonderfully handled, it brought out the human side so prominently! RCB, excellent and in the background of the music in the post, superb experience. Keep at it, RCB!

  2. This will easily be one of the finest conversations I have read in a long long time. Very serene, very deep, very insightful and very inspirational. This is probably the first interview where thoughts have been exchanged so fluently rather than a run-of-the-mill Q and A variety. Keep up the good work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s