Monday, June 06, 2005

Shodhyatra:Impressions on my mind

(Shodhyatra was a course in IIM Ahmedabad that dealt with traveling to the hinterlands and the mesmerizing valleys of the Kangra Valley in Himachal, learning and reflecting through out-of-class discussions and interactions)

Shodhyatra has been an eye-opener in so many ways that to reflect on it properly has taken me a year and I am still getting in terms with how things have changed around me. This reflective note will not have an exact structural form as one is used to seeing; as whatever has captivated my mind in the course is also unstructured and I am letting them flow out in discrete quanta. So will try to retrace the steps I took during the course and the lessons and observations I made; some divulged to the group, some not, and make sense out of the idiosyncrasies and meanderings in my mind that still remains one year after the course has ended.

At the start of the course when Anil Gupta, our course instructor had a talk with us in one of the classrooms explaining to us how different this course is going to be; could not help but be reminded of how bollywood directors like Pooja Bhatt term her new movie to be different in Mid-Day when we are not gullible enuf we know what is in scope when you have a Dino Morea and a Kashmira Shah in the starcast. He started off saying how we should be prepared for the unexpected to happen and how in dire straits we come up with innovative and breakthrough derivations. As I glanced across the class I could find a lot of frowns and dejection in some of the students who felt that on a trip to the hitherto unventured territory one should not be in a position to confront such forms of problems. I was like …duh…have you not seen the latest episode of Fear Factor or the Amazing Race! Just like Paris Hilton claiming to be in love again, this time with Paris (who is so so not like the Paris of Troy!!!), the trekker that I claim to be, kind of gave a wry smile at that. Back then, for me, the objective of the course was to visit places away from the humdrum of polluting environment and meet new faces along the way. The big picture of discovering oneself in a newer dimension and making personal breakthroughs and the ability to influence a few, no matter if its in a minute way did not struck me back then. Now slowly the entire thing is sinking in and am realizing that given the power of hindsight like always would have dealt each moment with more maturity and foresightedness. But nonetheless have learnt a lot from the course and some of my thoughts got reinforced, some got totally blown away and new thoughts started germinating in my mind. Somehow being away from the formal environment of the classroom, away from the Internet can make one’s mind go the Jonathon Seagull way and soar some distances and not think routine. Here we just redo all our activities, day in and day out without a least bit of annoyance and change of any form is frowned and distraught upon. So will be narrating more on some of my key learning that I have had as a result of this course.
Having been at those parts of India before, I always knew about the hospitality of the people and the way in which they embrace total strangers. The kind of embracing that they bring along and the benevolence they show can take one by surprise. It was so surprising for some of us that we actually started discussing if there was some ulterior motive in their acts. Even a case was cited when one school teacher, in whose school we were staying, had asked for some aid. But my take on this is that they are few and far between. Being in that school, seeing the way the tiny toddlers before entering their pathshala were bowing in acknowledgement, the great distances they traverse to attend the school has humbled me in some ways. Living in the city all my life, the kind of facilities I availed and the manner in which I was educated, at times I have taken education for granted. I wonder if I were in their place having to go through some of the same, if I would have had that in me to be so dedicated for so long. Probably yes, but the point is that the importance to gyan and thirst of knowledge should never diminish; all these years undergoing the same structured form of tests, exams, pedagogy, same old ways of cramming up stuff before the exams one’s mind was programmed and at times pre-programmed to be functional within a given set of parameters. Looking at those school kids at Boh has embarrassed me at my waste of time and use of mental faculty and this is one thing I am trying to improve upon.

The late night discussions that we had I could see myself opening up more and more cause I had the comfort zone of an instructor who has more welcoming and embracing than most I have met and also the fellow shodhyatris who I had been acquainted to in a more personal level. There were things that were really very personal to me and coming out with the events also reinforced me to come up with the thought that family is one thing that is constant and will never look down upon you. I think in that sense Baz Luhrmann is right when he says that family stays when friends and lovers go. Also being in the boarding school for most part of my life I had remained a bit unattached to the family; not that I did not feel affectionate or all. It was just that the bonding was not external. So at times I feel aligning ones goals to match those of the expectations of ones loved ones is also necessary, having the self-centred nature might make one famous, rise up in the ladder of tangible benefit-dom but having friends and close companions may be hard to come by.
During the personal interaction from Kareri village towards Dharamshala with our instructor I had so many confusing thoughts meandering in my mind. At one end was the long felt urge to be of some substantial help to society and bring in help in form of being involved and not mere kind or cash benevolence. And after doing the much bloated degree of MBA and seeing the lucrative means of achieving fame and personal glory one’s mind at times wants to take the easier path of choosing a career. A certain element of guilt strikes me when I see myself idling away my time and not contributing to the effort that so many leaders have carved out for making our place a more utilitarian society and for the cause of the have-nots. Am still pondering over that, to contribute my mite in a more productive manner, especially to the people back home. I feel I need to be in a position of certain degree of power and be financially well off to siphon off the funds towards providing start-up capital and catalyzing some small start-ups of people who are creative but have paucity of funds. That will go a long way in the youth of those parts not remaining disillusioned with the system and the unemployment situation will get reduced to a certain degree.
I also realized that networking and connecting with people could bring forth new dimensions. Before the start of the course there were around 15 people who I had not interacted with at a personal level and now after the course it seems like we have known each other for quite a while. What this new-formed relation that started during the commencement of the course has brought is that it has brought in the concept of the healthy debate and throwing up of topics of ambiguous interpretations. What these talks have led into is the fact that one has started to become more sensitive to others thoughts and look at both sides of the coin. At times, just taking one’s point of view might narrow down the options and channel of thought process so being open to newer ideas is always a welcome change for me.

This course when I look back on it was a time when one could understand one’s roots and the raw spirit involved. Many a lesson were learnt during the course, some were as important was the need for conservation of our heritage and ecosystem, some were as trivial was to lend a helping ear to the ones when we are in interaction.


At 1:41 PM, Blogger Wildflower said...

hmm... i like this slightly demented N guy... :)
I do hope for your sake you don't lose him in your corporate jungle ... or whatever its called... and yeah... trust Luhrmann on the sunscreen... take care.


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