The N Word

Nirvana? Well…actually I was thinking of another important N word (and I don’t mean nationalism) – Network! Many years ago, I had watched the film Identity with friends. There were many remarkable things about the film including the fact that a character got killed while walking into the wilderness looking for network on the mobile! So, in a way, we have been warned. Searching for network can be injurious to health.

But then, as they say, no man is an island and that urge to connect is addictive. While I can proudly proclaim that my life is not dependent on facebook updates and likes, messages and emails do need to be checked.  Since I am a consultant, my phone becomes the de facto office and that office needs to function! So I sometimes do end up walking through buildings/hotel rooms and premises searching for that elusive network. This is also when a certain degree of exercising happens – stretching arms through windows, craning the neck and even some feats of balancing.

But then, no network can also be a good thing. It offers a respite from well-meaning but over anxious family members, colleagues who decide to revert on matters that could have been handled earlier, clients who suddenly feel the urge to give feedback and those telemarketers (No…This is not the time to talk about my insurance policy…or maybe it is!)  You can focus, without interruptions, on the task at hand. It is a more immersive experience and respectful of those we are engaging with.

Ultimately, of course, one does have to return to the world of mobiles and deadlines. But then a temporary, free from technology break may also help us to look more closely at ourselves and others around us. Who knows…it may show the path to that other N….Nirvana as well!

Advertisements

Five Reasons

So, here are five reasons that I love my work. I thought it would be interesting to reflect on this and put it down somewhere. Moreover, I will be able to turn to this on days that are frustrating. It can be my harmless self-medication fix when I am (work) weary!

Reason #1: It offers amazing opportunities for varied assignments – interacting with diverse people, documenting development interventions, facilitating trainings, supporting development of how-to manuals or just good old editing jobs.
There are days in conference rooms and offices. And then there are days in the field. It balances out!

Reason#2: No two days are ever completely alike and it is rarely a 9-to-5 thing.
This is, obviously, linked to Reason#1.

Reason#3: I get to meet children and people (and hear their stories) and travel and am paid for it!
I have interacted with and learnt from children and community members in the midst of tea gardens in north Bengal and the fragile Sunderbans in south Bengal. I have been awed by the resilience of children and people in diverse settings across Odisha, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal and the island of Little Andamans. I have seen how education can transform communities and an organisation in Rajasthan. I have been allowed entry into countless personal experiences of joys, sorrows, hopes and frustrations. In the process, sometimes, the locations do tend to lose their picture perfect post card appeal. But then, life reveals itself and invests far deeper meaning and a complex beauty to them.

Reason#4: I am doing what I have always loved doing – writing.
My first ambition was to be a classical dancer. I also (very briefly) wanted to be a lecturer and then a cardiac surgeon. Well… none of that worked out! But even as I went through all these phases, one thing was constant. I enjoyed the company of words and writing. By the time I was in class VIII-IX, I was pretty sure that my future had to involve writing in some form. A brief stint in journalism followed and now I am here. Still writing…in various forms.

Reason#5: It helps me to learn, to go beyond the ‘isms’ and see how development interventions and the contexts in which they unfold influence each other.
Development interventions undergo dynamic and complex journeys as they are translated from proposals with outcomes and indicators to activities that must engage with flesh and blood people with their realities, aspirations and idiosyncrasies! Organisational (and team) capacities and priorities, local ecosystems (political and otherwise), unexpected developments….everything is interrelated and leaves a mark. It is interesting to become a part of this, to walk along with the participants, capture their experiences and reflections, see where we reached and what remains to be accomplished. And then a new circle begins!

What are your reasons?

 

…And I am Back!

2014 has been exhilarating, eventful and also sad. Mixed up. You get the drift. Of course, working as an independent consultant in the not for profit sector is adventurous and uncertain to begin with and that is why I chose to do this. I have had the amazing opportunity to travel and work, meet interesting people and find myself in some amazing locations. Crossing a snow hugged mountain pass to arrive at a valley… and then sitting under a chinar tree, mountains at a distance, having a conversation while a light drizzle falls around me. An early morning drive over a bridge, vast expanse of water below and the curtains of mist slowly parting to reveal a glistening green landscape at the other end. Trying new cuisines in different parts of India. Graduating from strangers to professional acquaintances to friends along the way. And returning to work closer home to discover new experiences and learnings here as well.

There have been some low moments too. There were personal losses and bouts of illnesses. The death of a colleague in a freak road accident. Work suffered for a while. This blog suffered the most! I felt guilty but it was never enough to translate into a post.

Finally, today, I don’t quite know why or how…I found my way back.

Hello world!

I plan to blog on my experiences as I meet diverse individuals and organisations through assignments on documentation and knowledge sharing for the development sector in India. Hopefully, this blog will also grow as a space for reflection on development interventions themselves and how we choose to capture them. So, here’s to journeys and wherever they may take us!