Shinjini (centre), is seen here along with her co-fellows during the Induction Training of the fellowship in Udaipur, where she was introduced to the concepts she speaks about


Some items that have stuck with me from India Fellow’s induction session include:

  • Rank, not Rant 
  • M is for Margin

Very important. There are times I don’t feel like I’m working/contributing to my full potential. There are times I feel I’m not voicing my opinion enough. There are times when I’m constantly feeling like although I have the relevant experience or the knowledge fitted somewhere in the folds of my brain; yet I’m unable to apply it. 90% of these are conscious decisions. However, I don’t know what is that stops me. I’m not afraid to say my bit, I just am not finding enough depth within my words and questions. Similar issue arose in finding peace with my incapability in talking to the communtiy or the people that I meet.

Conversing with the community is not new for me. I’ve done it for three years during my indulgence in the social entrepreneurial space where I designed and implemented projects for the marginalized communities (Read here). I was comfortable and good at it too, i thought. However the story is different here. What I’m supposed to be skilled at, has been implemented very little. I have stopped looking at people from the lens of an oppressed community that you are out there to save and to empower. No longer do I look at the community as a “beneficiary”. To me they are just people now. People like you and I albeit in different circumstances with different life stories. Sub consciously I chose this narrative very early on. Whether it happened a while before or after I arrived in Khamir, my fellowship host organization, I’m not sure. Ever since, the urge to converse didn’t come through. This left me in turmoil as I failed to gauge the rationale behind the same. I found a good solution to this however, through a co-fellow Faraz’s many Sher-o-shayari. His wisdom opined, 

ख़ामोशी छुपाती है ऐब और हुनर दोनों 

 which roughly translates to – silence will shroud both your wisdom and your foolishness. Strangely, I found this as a very comforting answer applicable to my situation. Instead of spoiling an environment by talking things that don’t make sense, why talk in that moment? Upon reflection, I realised that my turmoil in talking to the community in that moment was only to receive the validation that I receive from myself when I go through the process of asking questions. It was a form of competition with myself that I had built to constantly test my skills.

Rant: A lengthy and impassioned speech.
Rank: Considering someone/something more important than the other

The concept of ranking and not ranting suggests that the priority of the matter at hand to be discussed shall be devoid of self validation.

With time, I realised that I saved myself from ranting. I’m glad that I could manage to implement the same without taking conscious efforts to do so. I guess this is called growing up. Don’t get me wrong. This whole matter was very situational and momentary mainly during the first 15 days. I am conversing with the community as I practically work with them within the campus itself. There’s enough interaction and I’m gaining all the community time that I should and will continue to learn more about them through this one year. However, the point is that its not necessary for it to all happen within the first, second or even the third interaction itself. I’m not here on a small project wherein I’m time bound and there is no need to know all the stories and dukh-dard of their life in one conversation by asking all these questions. Its futile, rushed and not organic at all. Moreover, it’s important to understand that the community is not just a source of sad &/or oppressed stories to leech off. They’re all people, like you and I. People with flawed perfection, perhaps with a reality different than your own.


Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss

Snippet from IF by Rudyard Kipling

I sub-consciously have taken a decision to unlearn – to not let my three years of indulgence in the social entrepreneurial space hamper what I learn through this fellowship. For both the settings are two very different environments. But what I have realized is that I’m scared of unlearning, even though I’m doing it well. While I addressed this fear in the fellowship induction itself, it’s still remnant. I’m scared of insufficient learning; I’m scared of not exceeding a level in the entrepreneurial space that I already was at two years ago. While I know that these are all irrational fears and there’s always so much to learn, the fear is slightly more complex. I think it will fade away with time because I won’t allow myself to not raise my bar. Nonetheless, that’s still wishful thinking & it wont be evident until I complete a few months here. 

En Route to Khamir, my fellowship host organization in Kukma, Bhuj in Gujarat

Through all this turmoil, what has really helped bring peace is a constant reminder to give ‘M for Margin’ to myself. Allowing myself to just be- irrespective of the pedestal that I design to put myself up at. Giving myself the margin to make errors, to make inaccurate judgements, to allow myself to not be up-to-the-mark and be okay with it. Strangely it blew my mind because the way I remembered giving margin was only to the community. Didn’t I know that I too am now a part of this community?

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