Of Small Learning And Finding New Normals

At a time when most of my co-fellows are writing articles about bigger and greater things which they undergo during the fellowship and their experiences, I struggle to pen down feelings about any such bigger event. What I have come to realise, though, is that there are small, absolutely minuscule occurrences and incidents happening daily which are changing me as a person. So I thought of sharing my smaller experiences, which are equally important in shaping my journey.

– As a kid whenever I would see a rat or a lizard in my room and would shout, the immediate response I would get was someone running into my room asking ‘kya hua?’ But here when once my room-mate and co-fellow (Rakshita) and I shouted after looking at a rodent running around in our room, someone from the hall yelled ‘kya hua?’ When we shouted back ‘chooha hai’, the response we got was – ‘OK!’ From then on, finding these little creatures and not shouting has become a new normal for me.

– I have started to share and express more. Rakshita and I (both introverts) have these regular discussions about our daily encounters, connecting them to our past experiences, which many a times go on till late at night.

– Being stared at by men (ogled rather) everyday (on streets, field locations, workplace, buses) is something that I know wouldn’t change and I have sort of accepted it at some level. Sometimes even the staring (which a lot of you might now identify with) makes me question whether we’ll ever be able to establish he idea of gender equality.

– After talking to employees at my host organisation, I realised that in a lot of field locations and regions, a greater importance is given to caste and family background rather than the individual’s work. After personally experiencing this, when I was asked about my caste by random strangers in local trains and buses, I realised how deep-rooted the caste structure is in India.

– I have finally started to like walking. Whenever I get a chance, I ditch the auto and walk back to the accommodation. Walking, I have realised is also one of the best ways to explore a new place. What’s interesting is that most of the reflection I do, is during these walks back to my accommodation, where I talk about various things with Rakshita.

– Another learning that I must share, (which might be beneficial to other fellows) is that you should NEVER EVER try to touch a cow walking past, no matter how much you believe that cows are holy. Trust me, the cow doesn’t know that it is holy. My co-fellow once tried to do this, and the cow retaliated back by trying to “touch” her, which resulted in us running for some distance! 😛

– I have become much more easy going. Considering I have been literally living out of a suitcase, seeing as how I have moved to 6 different districts over the past 2.5 months, adaptability and flexibility are qualities I have grudgingly inculcated. Travelling in rickety buses, making do with bare minimum facilities, setting up a “temporary home”, only to leave it 2 weeks later, dealing with new places, things and emotions on your own, – I seem to have done much more in the past 2 months than I did in all the years before that.

The author continues to embrace and learn from these ‘little’ experiences and wishes to come across many such episodes.


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