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Day 12

July 14, 2013

Up at 6:30, I marveled at how much time there is in the morning. I decided I’d rather trade time in the morning for time at night. I like the light and am so much less tired than if I try to do things later.

I had breakfast with Anu. Somehow we got to talking about some Hindis’ of Muslims. She made it clear to me that to her, “They are no different. We are all made of the same parts. You can’t look at a person and just see their religion.”

Pradeep gave me the morning to do some writing. He asked me to think about what the walls of my box were. What was keeping my thinking narrow and destroying my confidence in the voice of my child self?

Started writing and writing, about family expectations, messages I got at school, from media, from ‘culture’, from being Canadian, from the work environment. I wrote about a special and lengthy section of limitations I had placed on myself; things I had internalized from different sources that had outlasted their causes.

I am not done with this, but I feel that I am working towards something bigger and better than the guide I wrote last week.

I did some more thinking about my love for complexity. Was it just an excuse, a ‘get-out-of-university-free’ card? I don’t think so. But I am wondering if some of the ideas I am chasing and fascinated by are more simple than I make them appear. Am I wrapping a child’s perspective in academic jargon so that I appear to be following the rules even though I am not?

After a very quick lunch (Shibani: “I made egg curry because I knew that if I made fish curry,  Pradeep would be picking at the bones and get late.”), we went to a Management and MBA College just outside Bhopal for the third session about Values and Ethics that Pradeep was chairing. I saw his role-playing method of teaching in action. I also learned a lot from the professor sitting beside me. A recent émigré from industry, she talked about the need to live ethically and graciously with a conviction that surprised me (as I am a bit ashamed to report).

She also talked about her students’ focus on marks and their belief that quantity matters. “Twenty five pages of writing, even if it is terrible, is better than four, they think. And who could blame them? That is what gets them the marks. The teachers aren’t paid enough to really care about what they are marking, so length is the easiest way to go about it.”

I talked to the students briefly about the Social Innovation Lab concept, but my Canadian ‘accent’ was hard for them to understand. One woman did ask a telling question. “Why should I be able to solve a community or industry problem? And why is it my problem in the first place?”

Pradeep and I took turns responding. I clarified that a student would not be solving and implementing alone. They would be working together with many other groups and trying to see from their vantage points. As well, being a student has its own advantages because you are not yet “boxed” into the industry way of thinking. You might be able to see what you cannot.

Pradeep asked her where she would go after she finished her schooling. “You will likely be part of industry. If you do not help solve these problems now you will be suffering from them. And aren’t you part of the community right now? A problem affects everyone.”

I came home and ate a paneer (texture is in between cottage cheese and tofu, but with spices!) patty that Shibani had brought me. Wham! You are all caught up. How does it feel?

Tomorrow I will hopefully be sightseeing in old Bhopal with Anu. In the evening I will be taking an overnight bus to a village near Seoni (the jungle/village area where Rudyard Kipling set the Jungle Book…!) to visit the rural school pilot project being run by an associate of OASiS. I will probably not have internet until Tuesday, so you’ll have to find something else to occupy ten minutes of your time every day.

Seriously, though, try getting up early!

“Ha, you crazy kid!” You say.

“Maybe I will.” You say.

I’m sure many of you already do. 🙂 Mom, I’m looking at you.

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