When one mentions the R word (research), a lot of people get images of people in lab coats holding test-tubes, or a formal interview at a plush office, sipping tea or coffee made by the secretary of the CEO being interviewed.
Well, there is that... Yes... but there is also much, much more.
Today's research session can attest to that.
Let me explain.
Today was a tough day. Deadlines galore. I had a teaching session that I had to prepare for. I had to actual teaching session itself. Then I had a meeting about a book that I was copy-editing (to be published in Bangladesh by the way) which was the followup to the 4 hour meeting that I had yesterday. And then there was a going-away party for a few friends who were leaving the country to do research in more exotic shores. Which was really enjoyable by the way. Good food good company. Good singing. A good time.
But it was good to be able to drive home and think about spending the night with the family.
I reached home. Salmah made me a coffee. I sipped while relaxing in front of the TV. Ahhhhh... bliss.. a good end to a long day.
Until my iPhone blared out an alarm.
I was puzzled. What was it that I had forgotten?
I looked at my calendar and there it was:
8pm. Focus group interview.
Location: The Fox and Ferret.
How on earth did that slip my mind? I had planned this for a week! It was supposed to be the final interview for the participants of my research.
But my mind was oh so tired.
I was knackered. A spent force. A man in his mid-thirties who plays golf on Sundays, and takes his children to the golf club practice area on Saturdays. A man who enjoys the prospect of a hot drink and a nice warm bed after a long day, rather than hanging out with his mates at the pub/mamak stalls.
But what was I to do?
And so I literally had to drag myself away from the sofa. I just couldn't bear the thought of not being able to meet my research students, some of whom I had spent good quality time with in the language classroom. They were all there to see me.
So drove to the Fox and Ferret - a nice pub to meet up with friends in. I had done the previous focus group interview there and it seemed like a nice place to meet up in. When I saw the students all waiting my tiredness started melting away. I love my students. I always have. It's my genuine interest in my students that makes my job such an enjoyable one.
And so the conversation starts, with the exchange of hugs and customary banter we would have in class. And then the group interview starts in earnest. Good responses. Good data. I thought - This is perfect. I have spent time with them, got to see them again after a week of not coming into their class (which is a long time when you normally see them twice every week). I thought after I finish this Coke we can call it a night.
And then the room got dark.
Laser lights started to illuminate the place, making everyone sparkle like they were vampires from Twilight.
And the music started.
I felt my feet twitching.
What was this? I felt a memory stirring. This... was something... I used to like to do... round about a decade ago...
And the music kept playing.
And soon before I realised it I was on the dance floor with the students.
Jumping and waving my hands in the air (like I just didn't care).
This was it! This was what I used to do before the domestic bliss began - marriage, career, kids, PhD, research... This was fun!
I ended the night on a high.
I gave everyone a hug and exited to pub turned club into the cold, cold night.
Sweat was still clinging to my forehead as I walked to the car.
My ears were still ringing - reminiscent of the firing range, firing M-16s as a cadet officer.
Was that research?
You bet your a** it was!