Saturday, February 03, 2007

One day at a time: Culturewise

Dr Eva Wolf-Manfre, director, Max Mueller Bhavan, wisely divides her time between work and home. Dibyajyoti Sarma finds out

For someone who is the director of prestigious Max Mueller Bhavan (MMB), Dr Eva Wolf-Manfre does not mind admitting that she is a newcomer. Not in her job though! It’s India that’s new for her as she came here just 11 months back. She was transferred from Germany, before which she was in Chicago with the Goethe Institute, the parent organisation for the MMBs in India.
“The thing is, India is very different from the other places where I have worked before.” She elaborates, “The US is very similar to Germany in terms of lifestyle, fashion, food, work culture, etc. In India, everything is different, religion, culture, food, everything. It took me time to adjust to the work culture here. It takes efforts in understanding the work ethics of a different culture, how people communicate, how they react… One has to be patient.”
Wolf-Manfre has patience in abundance, and for that alone, if nothing else, she has received her perks as well. “I never had a driver before. Now, I’ve got one. It’s not that I don’t drive but considering the traffic situation here, it’s a blessing.” Then, she adds a rejoinder, “I hope I don’t get use to it.”

Morning news

A typical day for Wolf-Manfre begins at seven with a dose of morning newspapers. “I like to keep myself abreast with what’s happening in the city, as well as around the world.” She has her breakfast at eight, typically with tea and fruit yogurt. “On weekends, I prefer a heavy one, with eggs, banana, etc.” At around 8.30 am, her driver arrives and the next half an hour goes into instructing the driver and the maid about household stuff, cleaning, shopping, cooking.
She reaches Max Mueller Bhavan at 9 am. “If I am not going out on a tour, the first half of the day is spent in meeting people. I make it a point to meet all the employees here on a day-to-day basis.” There are other things as well - making appointments, organising events, answering emails, and signing cheques. “I have to sign a lot of them,” she tells us.

Busy hours

If there are no major appointments, and if she’s not going anywhere, lunch is at home. Otherwise, she orders something from the cafeteria.
Back in the office, afternoons are for more serious work. “With not many people around, I can think and work on scheduling programmes, do a paper, or prepare a speech.” She stays at office till 5 or 6 pm.
“I have joined a health club, Talwalkars,” she adds. After working out, it’s time to head back home. “I have also joined piano classes. I learnt the piano for eight years. In between, it was abandoned due to time constraints. Now that I have the time, I thought of pursuing it again. So, if I am not going out in the evening, I deal with the piano keys!”

Leisure and more

Dinner is usually German-style, with breads and sandwiches (she has also taught her maid how to bake breads the German way, “since you don’t get them here”). Then it’s time to watch TV, especially news channels, BBC, CNN, and read books.
“We have a literary circle (comprising teachers of Max Mueller Bhavan and Ranade Institute) for which we read a book and share it with each other. I recently read G√ľnter Grass’ autobiography Peeling the Onion and Suketu Mehta’s The Maximum City. “I could really relate to Mehta’s reactions when he decides to leave New York to settle in Mumbai. Being in an almost similar situation, I could empathise with him.”
What else does she do in the evening? “I guess, I have to talk about my friend here who constitutes an important part of my day-to-day life. When I came here I knew no one, except for a sole friend in Mumbai. Since then, I have managed to make a lot of friends. We meet quite often, go out, go to the movies. We even took a trip to Konkan.”
And, are they from MMB? “No, I believe work and friends do not really go well with each other.”
But yes, both play an important part in one’s everyday life. Wolf-Manfre will surely vouch for it.

1 comment:

  1. MMB has the best courses in German in india.