Over the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to spend some time inside two college campuses around Chennai, as my daughter had to take up some academic challenge encounters which are popularly known as entrance exams. For the first one, I went there pretty early in the morning, following exactly the rules as spelt out in the admit card. For the second one also, we were there pretty early, although the college had not specified any time that was abnormally early, by which students should be there at the centre. So, in both cases, me and my daughter had almost one hour to spend together, after we located the examination centre along with the building and floor where it was located.
I think, the colleges assume that even if the students are going to be accompanied by their parents, they could still end up being irresponsible and check in for the exam at the last moment. That way, the academia puts the students and the children together under the same umbrella of irresponsibility. I have experienced this at my daughter's school where for a prize distribution ceremony, parents were called in at such a time, that I witnessed a stage being built right from scratch for about an hour and a half. And so the actual function started thereafter and went on for another three hours.And believe me, this was on a working day and at peak noon. Since then, I have been very protective of my time and I try and anticipate such waiting times coming up and then plan with things that could be done in that time space, as far as possibble.
Each test that my daughter took up, ran for two and half hours on an average and so I had almost three hours time at my disposal at each centre. I had some plans in mind and I executed them very well while waiting there. I felt satisfied at the end of the few hours spent there. I also took some time to observe how the others who accompanied their children spent their time. Some of these were parents, some siblings and some were individuals sent by the parents to accompany the children.
A large part of the crowd was busy with their mobile phones. Most of the people in the crowd, came as a family. Some of these spent their time sitting out under the shades of trees and chatting while having some snacks. It was a good time for them to spend as a couple while their child was away at the test. For some it was a time as a family as the second child had also joined them. I believe, as a family, they would have loved spending their time that way.
There was one family sitting inside the waiting hall that caught my attention. The mother had a plaster on her left leg and she had it lifted and placed on a chair. But even though she was in that state, she was repeatedly writing the same one line prayer in a diary and I saw her turning several pages in those three hours. This prayer would possibly have been for her other child taking up the exam. For her, her time was well spent. Her husband and daughter though, were busy meanwhile with their smart phones. Unless we have something to really focus on in a smartphone, it would be a wandering journey and that would finally make us a mentally tired person at the end of the wandering.
There was one person sitting near me and laughing out so loud while watching a movie on his mobile with his earpieces on, that people sitting around often turned around to understand what was happening. Although he was on his smart phone, he had something to focus on and that way it would have been pretty satisfying for him.
There was a young lady, possibly the sibling of someone taking the test, sitting with her laptop. She was working with such killer focus that not once did she take her eyes off her laptop to view the people who were sitting all around her. Another person near her had to literally walk up to her and tell her about a centipede that was making its way up the laptop charger cable onto her lap. Her focus was so inspiring and her time according to me was well spent.
I spent some time with my mobile phone camera and shot some pictures of the setting sun and the green stretches. I spotted a lot others who were doing the same. There were a few who kept walking randomly within the campus for a while. They stopped and took pictures at random spots as a family. Even this according to me is an activity that gives the satisfaction of having done something.
When my daughter stepped out of the second exam, she asked me "How did you kill time?". I was happy I didn't have to kill. If we have some plans listed out, I believe we don't have to really kill time. We can romance time and use it on things we love to do.