Dosas, Development and my Dad
Eight weeks of Indian food has left me with a taste for dosas and masala in all its forms.
Eight weeks of lectures on design thinking has made me a master at filling in empathy maps.
Eight weeks of mid winter sun has marked me with considerably more freckles.
Eight weeks of blog posts has reset my internal clock, and eight weeks of staying at UTC has left me with many creative solutions for how to fix a broken ceiling fan.
What eight weeks in Bangalore has not provided me is answers. Eight weeks spent trying to solve a grand challenge has left me with bigger and more pressing questions than I had when I arrived, and as blog post thematically shift from the wonders of arrival to beginning to say goodbye, the thoughts and feelings swirling around in my head are enough to keep me awake at night, staring at my broken ceiling fan.
Last week, my dad came to visit me. In the days prior, I had spent a lot of time worrying about how to keep him busy. I polled GCIL students and pestered Elbin for recommendations for activities, determined to fill every moment he was here with excitement and to ensure that he wouldn’t get bored.
When my dad arrived, what I was able to show him was not an action packed itinerary of the best tourist hot spots in Bangalore, but a collection of some of my favorite faces and places in this city. My dad was able to experience the kindness and generosity of the people on this program and the incredible individuals I’ve met working at Parikrma, and this is what made for a successful trip. Having my dad here was amazing, though the highlight was being able to show off the network of friends, coworkers, and teachers that I have here. It was the first time that Bangalore has really felt like home to me.
Of course, like any good design thinker, it’s not good enough to just feel comfortable, and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about why it feels different here now. I’ve thought about the skills I’ve developed here and how it’s made it easier to take on my environment. Learning to haggle made me feel less intimidated buying fruit, learning to cross streets made me less worried to leave campus. However, the skill that I think has attributed most to my success isn’t one I learned in T3 or on the streets of Benson Town, it’s something I picked up water skiing.
When you learn to water ski, people give you lots of advice like “when you’re in the water, pretend like you’re sitting in a trash can” and “pull the handle towards you when you’re trying to get up”. But the most important rule is often overlooked: when you fall, you must, must, MUST let go of the rope.
I’m not sure if it’s anyone’s instinct but mine, but this is never an easy step. It’s hard to face the fact that you’ve gotten up, tried, and fallen over, but even more difficult to release the only thing that tethers you to the boat. Floating around in open water is intimidating, and it’s too tempting to cling to what feels like your life line.
There have been a lot of moments on this program that have felt like water skiing. One moment you’re gliding with ease and clear direction, and the next you’re disoriented with your head under water. Do you hold on to the rope, your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth filling with water as you get dragged behind the boat? Or do you face up to your failure, draw on your courage, and let go of the rope?
There are lots of things that scare me coming up in the next three weeks. I’m worried about submitting our projects, defending our ideas, saying goodbye, and even completing this last blog post. I know there will be moments when I feel overwhelmed and too over my head to make any movement.
However, I also have a plan. I know that I can fall over, flail, and then start over. I can assume the “sitting in a trash can” position and pull the handle bar towards me. I know that somewhere in these next few weeks I will find the moment of lift that allows me to get up and glide. I just need to remember it’s ok to let go of the rope.