I was doing good as an architectural student; and after completing my thesis, I was supposed to be working with an architectural firm, getting some field experience. I had absolutely loved what I was working on, always! The work there gave space for my creativity to flow, while I could focus on the implementation. This was the time when I wanted to be on site, with clients, manage execution, etc. But this was also the time when the question of giving back to the society arose. The need to know India and the grassroots better came up.
It was a beautiful Sunday evening, apparently the last day of the Financial year 2018-19. Shubham (a co-fellow), Umang (an India Fellow team member) and I came back after a good half-day. Avinash (my mentor at Waste Warriors) was home, and with all his energy and enthusiasm, extended us an invitation for a hike. After a beautiful bike ride amidst the narrow lanes, passing by the Tibetan community settlement on a sloped terrain, we reached a point from where the mountains were not so far.
As we started climbing towards the waterfall, which was once an illegal mining site, I started panting and struggling with the speed of others. I have always lacked physical strength and stamina which became a hurdle as we moved up and ahead. I could neither smell the fresh water nor feel the wind blowing. The splendor of a mountain was blurry.
Back in Rajkot, when I was pursuing architecture, I was in this race of coping up with my people and profession. It was only by fluke that India fellow happened and that was when I knew that I had to carve my own path. It was when I took a deep breath and plunged into the development sector. I knew that coming to India Fellow was a beginning to know this space.
I was stuck on a stone about 10 feet high, below which the stream yelled in all its rage, at its peak. Stuck there, I felt numb. There was no movement for a while, and everything went still. Fear of heights and embarrassment embraced me like an invisible cloak; through which even the cold breeze couldn’t pass, and suddenly I could again hear Avinash standing right there, asking me to jump as he would catch me.
I just did. I jumped. I was alive. The stream didn’t take me with it.
“Sometimes the only way to the end is through it.”
As of today, I’m in Dehradun with Waste Warriors and we’re working for a cleaner tomorrow. Every day comes with a different challenge at work. Conviction is the first step; a lot follows after that. There are so many projects and activities revolving around one mission. Multiple teams juggling between their everyday tasks and moving towards ‘what’s next’. Everyday we ask each other and ourselves, “How can we do this better? What more can be done?” The environment is highly energetic; where things are happening between office and field via Nagar Nigam and funders.
It’s a lot like hiking towards the Shikhar Falls, where I could see a bit of what’s ahead, but only when I went further. I realized what I saw, with the help of my vision, one of my five senses. As I put my right leg into the water, a frosting wave gushed from the tip of my toe through my body giving me a moment of shiver. Only when we stopped at a point, I could feel the cold water; the chilly breeze that passed subtly through me, giving me goosebumps. The journey had just begun, and to go along this path, it became necessary to pause and take the needed time.
Getting to know the development sector, is similar to this incomplete hike, but you know that it’s going somewhere – people talk about what’s ahead, but only when one travels through it, one can know. People had told me about the development sector and the NGOs but only when I’m moving towards it, with each day, I feel like I’m working for something that I believe in. There is an effort which is leading towards the change that I can resonate with. Every night, before going to bed, there’s this feeling of having a productive day; as my skills are being put to use, making an addition to the required efforts.
I’ve also come to realize that change is not an overnight thing, but to believe that it can’t be brought, is failing.
Very well written blog, the way you have explained the whole instance in connection with your life is amazing. Looking forward to read your blogs 🙂
Awesome analogy. Creative, Jaya.