The month of March has been a whirlwind of a #MarchToEmptiness tour for me- Bangalore-Delhi-Baroda-Ahmedabad-Jaipur-Delhi-Bangalore! 🙂 I thought that I should reflect on my journey and also share my learnings. You will probably see my personal life and professional life—as the CTO (T may stand for Thinking or Travel or Talking!) of KYS—merge into a single journey of life. Maybe every heartpreneur goes through this!
Shifting Base From Bangalore To Everywhere!
Let me start with a personal anecdote. My only material possessions while in Bangalore were books, clothes, and a motorbike. As part of moving out of Bangalore and setting up my base everywhere, I shipped my personal library to 4 different locations in India. I experienced a mix of emotions when I did that. Currently, I am enjoying such peace at the thought of my best friends (these books!) experiencing fresh air and enlightening new minds. My friend, Krishna, who runs a bookstore, learnt about this when I was packing and offered a few books from his side as well! He was feeling very grateful that he could do his bit… Generosity is indeed contagious!
While I was vacating my Bangalore home, I gave up so many things that I had accumulated for no reason! All my extra clothes went to Goonj, and it provided me with an opportunity to visit their Bangalore & Delhi centres. What Anshu and team at Goonj are able to create from discarded materials is just amazing and it sowed the seeds for our successful Volunesia initiative, where we are creating something out of nothing for our students, mentors and teachers who participate in the Mentor India programme. If you ask me what has been my mantra for the #MarchToEmptiness phase of my life, here goes:
What do you have to do?
Pack your bags,
Go to the station without them,
Catch the train,
And leave yourself behind.
Exploring The Incredible Schools Of Incredible India
To touch upon my professional journey in March, it started with some inspiring meetings with Anshu, Kalyani and Uma ma’am in Delhi. It was delightful to work and contextualise English learning with Akanksha and her team at Tarkeybein. It was such a delight to be with Tarkeybein and witness their operations in Munirka and DPS school- so much to learn, especially from Akanksha, who comes from a TISS, Gandhi fellowship & Riverside background. She had amazing things to share!
Post Delhi, I went to Baroda to visit my friends and from there to Ahmedabad to volunteer at an HHH retreat, where i learnt the art of holding circles. Before the retreat, I had the good fortune to meet Kiran ma’am and see her in action at Riverside. Riverside is an incredible school that contributes greatly to the Indian education system, which requires a complete overhaul.
I resonate with the belief that most of us are unknowingly trapped in the slave mindset and are manufacturing kids for the industrial age, while shunning their creativity. Riverside School is an exception to this – their programs, their premises and the passion shown by their teachers is phenomenal. They operate from a basic fact that every child is a conscious being and we need to create the right conditions for them to grow! I got the chance to be present while the class 3, 4 and 5 students of Design For Change presented their pitches on projects related to social change that they had worked on for a year. Also, I had a great campus tour facilitated by Kabir, who is in class 8, before I bid goodbye to Kiran Ma’am with a picture with one of her 4G inspirations – Mahatma Gandhi!
Post retreat, I went to Digantar in rural Jaipur – this school caught my fascination because of its sheer simplicity and its values, which are central to its operations. The low-cost classrooms were built in the form of a circle and had no doors, windows or furniture. Such amazing energy! The belief here is that every child should get the opportunity to learn at their own pace. Their staff room featured beautiful handmade drawings depicting the school’s struggle and journey – I realized that this might be the secret to putting down intrinsic motivation in place.
Teachers here use a small box kept outside the class to keep their lesson plan for the day, which denotes key fields like objectives, focus, intention, methodology and outcome. Interestingly, teachers have their own reflection circles in the evening and they believe in emergence (or continuous assessment) for planning. This school charges their visitors and I felt that this was a very clever idea! I loved interacting with Reena Ma’am, the founder of Digantar, who had so much knowledge to share. Meeting her was so humbling and it introduced a series of thoughts to me on arguments like ‘Infrastructure vs. Quality’ and ‘Student Background vs. Conditions’. Thank you, Digantar, for setting this fine example!
To conclude, #MarchToEmptiness helped me drive towards Completeness and witness its reflection on our work at KnowYourStar. The work we do is spiraling to new heights with strong depths. I’m happy to announce that we have recently founded a public trust to support all our experimental projects :). This year, we are focusing on overall school transformation and working in schools for the entire academic year. Mentor India has also been featured in Kannada’s #1 daily. The highlight of the month has been – Volunesia! Thank you for supporting us in this journey from fullness to emptiness to completeness.
If you seek and pray, He will grant you from His shelf.
If you don’t seek and yet pray, He will grant Himself!
Enjoyed reading about this? Then you might like to read Jaideep 2.0: My story of turning Heartpreneur