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I begin my work in Florida Centre for Reading Research (FCRR)

The administrative officer of FCRR Greg Hutchins drove me to the institute and oriented me to the location, physical structure and people working. Many weren’t there as they have the option to work from home after Covid-19. They do all meetings and most classes online. Their student strength is very much manageable for blended learning. My mentor Prof Yaacov Petscher is a wonderful person and is highly sensitive to my need. A man of few words, he understands without saying things and responds in action. As he was recovering from Cancer, he offered me the full support of the Admin to take me out to introduce to FCRR and the city of Tallahassee. As Greg drove me through the quiet yet beautiful city of Tallahassee, I could see the big buildings of Florida State University (FSU), smart cars parked in large numbers in all the academic areas and the lazy daisy lanes. Houses are made so well with gardens around. Mostly independent houses, but for few student apartments adorned the area. Cars parked inside and on the roads. With the silence and scarce population as compared to India, one would surely wonder who lives there and who drives the cars!!! It is a rare sight to spot human beings or even dogs and cows and our beloved buffaloes on the road. Without any application, requests to people behind the computers, my FSU identity card was made and handed over to me instantly. Bank account was opened so easily and the documents reached in couple of days to my residential address. Knowing the importance of local telephone number, got one sim card into my existing smart phone. Everything was done so efficiently not only because of Greg, but also because of the smooth system that is in place.

The FCRR building is huge, corridors are wide, well carpeted and decorated with pots, paintings and quotations but silent, unlike our corridors where students and staff keep bumping into each other smiling, wishing, whispering and cracking jokes to each other. You have no option than to google to find a place or a person!! There is no one to ask for Gowramma’s room, not even a security guard. In RIE Bhubaneswar a Cheeku Bhai or Gopal Bhai is always around to direct a visitor to my room.

Anyway, the comforts outdo the emotions. I have not had a single day to wait outside the rest room with emergencies. A stark contrast where we often bang doors. I wonder how they remain so clean, well equipped with soaps, wipes, well-functioning flush tanks. Never have I seen a leak of a drop of water in my eight months stay, not just in FCRR rest rooms but in every rest room I used across the country. Rest rooms are made in such a way that you don’t need to open the latch to enter. You can just walk in and latch from inside. The doors never remain open. The automatic door closers are so well functioning. There is no confusion to use the rest room in the country. Wherever you go, the same design, the same location for rest rooms. There are no variations in basic requirements.
The lounge in every corridor of FCRR is with vending machine, microwave oven, refrigerator, coffee maker, tea bags, creamer and sugar. You can walk in anytime to make your choice of food and drink. The items never dry up, staked up well in time.
The office room is with stationary well organized with labels. No Biswa and Seema are there to assist. It is so well maintained you don’t need any one to assist. You pick up what you want and do your work. Every kind of stationary is kept in reachable range to save waste in time in looking around for paper, file, pen, stick pad, cello tape, pins, clips of different size, scissors, printer, colour papers, thick papers, rulers, markers. Take as per your need and use it without the fear of note sheets, stock registers and files.
There is a dining hall you may heat your lunch and eat peacefully all alone. The social construct is different. Not easy here to find a company for sharing food. After lunch usually all take a walk around the beautiful location with large gardens with well-maintained lawn, ponds with water birds. After first two months I found an Indian friend Subrat Mallick from the adjacent research building doing post-doctoral work in Oceanography with whom I could have lunch and walk around.

I was given a spacious well-lit room with all the comforts to work. Double desk top on movable table is a regular feature in every room. It is a pleasure to work on two desktops connected to the same keyboard. We can refer to reading materials in one and do our work in the other without wasting fraction of seconds every time to minimize and maximize windows in the same desk top.
There is no entry time exit time that is recorded. The inner consciousness is the only judge. Work completion is the only requirement. If one is not completing it is their problem they will not get salary and not be recruited for the next term. Everything is clear. There is no mid way or there is never a favour to any. The system is well oiled and functions by itself. Weekly online meetings of the research groups are held to take stock of the work in progress. The director of FCRR has her time to come as routine and conducts brief meetings to know the status of work on each project. To get the feel of the magnitude of research work at FCRR my mentors had given chance to be in meetings of research group that was being carried out as part of a multi institutional project “Reach Every Reader” (RER). It was immense learning just being a listener in the meetings. My mentors – the magnificent Prof Hugh Catts (I fondly call him Bheeshma Pitamaha of reading research) and the kind hearted Prof Yaacov Petscher had given me the freedom to message, call and plan online meetings with them at the time of my need.