How I developed a reading habit ?

My stories have always had a strong contextual base. This is no different.

The Book

It all started off in 2014 when I was 17, I picked up this book called “Looking For Alaska” by John Green. And the quote below has been my life philosophy from the very start.

Paramahansa Yogananda

In the book, Alaska, has a habit of hoarding books, I still vividly remember why & I quote Alaska :

“Have you read all these books stacked on the floor?Oh God no. I’ve maybe read a third of ’em. But I’m going to read them all. I call it my Life’s Library. Every summer since I was little, I’ve gone to
garage sales and bought all the books that looked
interesting. So I always have something to read.

Alaska

That’s what I did for the next 5 years. I bought books at bookshops, railway stations,airports,libraries, from the road. You name it, I bought it from there.

The Bookshop

It’s 2019, I’m 22, Im sitting awkwardly bored on bed in Kochi, when I finally hatched a plan to meet some trekkers and Neha from Indiahikes in Banglore.

The trekkers took me to this bookshop, where I picked up the book that changed my life, ‘ Prisoners of Geography’ by Tim Marshall. Here’s an extract of it :

All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. Their choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas, and concrete. To understand world events, news organizations and other authorities often focus on people, ideas, and political movements, but without geography, we never have the full picture. Now, in the relevant and timely Prisoners of Geography, seasoned journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the USA, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan and Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic—their weather, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders—to provide a context often missing from our political reportage: how the physical characteristics of these countries affect their strengths and vulnerabilities and the decisions made by their leaders. Let’s put the geo back into Geopolitics.

Goodreads

Now if that didn’t that blow your mind, I don’t know what will?

The reason the book changed pretty much everything for me and I quote Bill gates this time in his interview with the Quartz, when asked “How Bill Gates remembers what he reads.”

“If you read enough, there’s a similarity between things that make it easy, because this thing is like this other thing. If you have a broad framework, then you have a place to put everything. So you have the timeline, or you have the map, or you have the branches of science and what’s known and what’s not known. And so, incremental knowledge is so much easier to maintain in a rich way than, you know, the first time somebody is telling you about Rome. Why am I reading about Rome? Why am I reading about Queen Victoria?

Bill Gates

I know I’m breaking your “flow”, but it’s worth it. Sometimes in life, its better to see it yourself than be told. This is one of those moments.

So Prisoners of Geography was my context. It was my broad framework to all the knowledge I collected in my 22 years of my existence.

The Study Room

While I was reading ,Michelle Obama’s book, ‘Becoming’, Michelle talks about how Obama has a study room, where he takes nothing but books inside. Barack Obama would read two to three books at a time, in that tiny study room. And me being inspired by my own life philosophy mentioned above, I decided to implement it.

I began reading two books at a time, leaving my phone outside the room. And I haven’t looked back so far.

Whats your story?
How did you start reading?
Drop me a comment, I would love to know.

COLD

Five years ago, while I was in my 12th, I watched this short film called ‘Cold’. It never really got out of my head. I found myself, re watching to a point that I had to write a blog about it.

This is how the short film ends

” When I first moved to Toronto alot of people told me to be ready to be cold. It’s funny because you get used to the weather pretty quick. It’s the city that takes a while to warm up to you.”

The cinematography, the editing, the acting is brilliantly done. It follows a chain of people lives whom seems unrelated.

One of the scene really stuck with me. In the film, there was a gay guy, sitting in the car, listening to the radio with a gun held to his head. who about to shoot himself in the head.

When the RJ decided to take calls. The first caller was an 8 year girl that lost her gay brother who shoot himself in the head and her parents didn’t attend their own sons funeral. She never got to tell him that she loved him the way he was. And the calls gets cut.

The guy in the car, goes back home, dresses the way he wishes too and goes to eat a hotdog. In cold christmas night, as (s)he was standing in the line, the guy behind him smiles at her and bought him a hotdog.

He goes after her and before he could say anything she said

” You were the first person to smile at me tonight. It gets lonely out her sometimes and this is my way of saying thanks.”

To be continued

Mid day Meal : A soaring success in Uttarakhand

Located 323 km away from Dehradun, lies a lesser known district known as ‘Bageshwar’ and inside that little district is a block known as ‘Kapkote, my home for the next year or so.’ Kapkote is beautiful cheerful town, surrounded by vast mountains and paddy fields.

In the morning the streets are flooded with students of all ages, with well ironed uniforms, girls with neatly braided hair laced with ribbons as their parents drop them off to the nearest road where their trek to school begins.

In the midst of this organized chaos, we fellows from the city get an opportunity to teach at some of these schools.

Currently Kaivalya Education Foundations is working with 87 schools in Kapkote Block, Bageshwar Uttarakhand, along with three major sub locations: Shama, Reema and Supi. In Kapkote, we are nine fellows in total, each managing four to five schools.

Understanding the Geography of the Mountain State

In Uttarakhand there’s a rule that there has to be a primary school every 3 km, and a High School every 5 km. These schools are tucked behind the majestic Himalayas with breathtaking views. To reach these schools you either take public transport, trek, scooty. Every minute teaching at schools located within the mountain communities is worth it.

In Kaivalya, schools are categorized into three domains: Sugam (Roadside school) ,Durgam( scooty needed & 20 minute trek) and Ati Durgam ( far away takes around an hour to reach, trek of more than hour or two.

Why was the Mid Day Meal Scheme introduced?

As I began my journey teaching at some of these schools, located in the remotest location possible, with no network, graveled roads, there was one thing that all the schools had in common It was the : The Mid Day Meal.

Started by the government in 1995, government noticed that despite the ‘Right to  Free and Fair Education Act,’ there were massive school dropouts. Intrigued by this, teachers started to notice the pattern of mass dropouts and concluded there were seasonal as their parents were mostly hired labor. On receiving this new exciting information the government decided to implement the mid-day meal scheme all over the country.

In the past two months I have visited and taught at
Model Kapkote, Lamabagar, and Pothing where in mid-day meal has been
implemented along with the rest of the 87 schools.

Challenges of bad road

To get a rough idea of the success of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in Uttarakhand, allow me to narrate my own experience reaching one of my Durgam schools. Pothing, located 18 km( 45 – 55 minutes ride) away from Kapkote. The changing climate, has led to terrible landslide’s leaving the road damaged that the scooter in no position to climb up.

Parking the scooty next to an electric pole, the trek lasts for 40 minutes through absolute wilderness and then through a community. The Government Primary School Pothing is located at one end of the mountain.

The community and the school don’t get along well hence the school doesn’t have a water connection. Despite of that setback, accompanied by the remotest the place present, the cooks known as ‘Bhojan Mata’ or’ Bhojan Pittas’ present food to the ever deserving students.

Fixed Menu

The Mid Day meals are usually served between 10 to 11 am, followed by an elaborate ceremony with students singing on top of their lungs either traditional Kumauni songs, multiplication tables, English nursery rhymes or patriotic Hindi songs.

After which, everybody eats together. The menu of the mid-day meal is fixed which ensures every student receives a balanced diet.

The budgeting of the meals are such that the Primary school as well as the Junior Primary school receive 4.48 Rupees from the Central and State Government per child per day.

Once the meal is done, the enthusiastic students get up wash their plates, glasses and up them back in the kitchen. After which they play a solid round of Kabbadi, In out (where they jump in and out catching hands) with their faces beaming with joy playing in the scorching heat.

There’s no better way to conclude the success of the mid day meal as well as the enthusiasm of the students other than quote Friedrich Nietzsche a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet :

“There is an innocence in admiration; it is found in those to whom it has never yet occurred that they, too, might be admired someday.”

Never lose the desire to walk

( Read above quote once again)
Simple yet beautiful.

Walking for me has always been an integral part of my life. I walked myself out of situations that didn’t booast my morale, I walked and as I walked, I made friends on the way.

Whenever I got fed up,I walked.

I remember very distinctively that I walked 8km on a rainy day in Nagaland. The simple happiness for me was wearing my boots.

I think everyone should try ‘metaphorically‘, walking because honestly that’s what we all need.

Greta Thunberg & her quest to Combat Climate Change II

Every time I watch Greta Thunberg,the 16 year old Swedish Climate Change Activist, I am inspired. I’m just watching a vice documentary on her, I can’t stop holding back my tears. She is such an inspiration.

This is what I am talking about.

Skipping School to Stop The Climate Crisis: Greta Thunberg and the Student Protests

Currently I am working on Climate Change, with the United Nations Development Program, on their study ‘Implications of Climate Change on Human Development and Poverty’. It’s an ethnographic study capturing people’s voice to Climate Change.

It’s a two month study to understand how the marginalized communities that are living in fragile ecosystems are disproportionately affected by Climate Change. The study would be covering 5 major regions

  1. Semi-arid and arid areas
  2. Sensitive Mountain Ecosystems
  3. Forest and Tribal Areas
  4. Coastal Regions
  5. Island Communities

The objective is to add peoples voice to the study and receive recommendations from the community.

I have been selected for the Sensitive Mountain Communities. I have gone to the Western Himalayas as well as the Eastern Himalayan Region to capture the voices of the vulnerable section.

I have visited cities such as Dehradun, Mussorie, Guwahati,Kohima, Dimapur villages in Meghalaya ( Rongdengre , Rombagre , Silsekgre , Selbalgre ) to Nagaland’s ( Tseisema Base , Tseisema Bawa , Khonoma , Jakhama , Mima )

While watching this documentary, I have paused it, because I feel so much, I am so motivated and I just struck me, If I wish to do more, to be more, I would love to go to Sweden and study Sustainability Management or something along those lines. I am looking up courses to get a full scholarship. I am going to be there.

#FridaysforFuture

I would join the local clubs around Sweden that work towards climate change and protests on Friday’s. This way I will get myself acquainted on how to hold a protest in my own country, India.

Then I wish to come, work for the development of the Mountain communities, whilst working on Climate Change, joining an existing group, or even start my own

I have never wanted a single job, I have always seen myself, being an busy independent young woman, juggling work having great time management.

Master’s in Sweden

By the time, I go to Sweden, I would have worked on ground for 2 years with the Gandhi Fellowship in Uttarakhand, which I could show as my model village on Waste Management.

I am looking forward to Sweden and working towards our future!

3 websites to check out if you plan to Volunteer in India

If you are looking for Volunteering option here are a couple of websites that are straightforward :

The Alternative:

 http://www.thealternative.in/lifestyle/guide-to-volunteer-travel-in-india/

 ScoopWhoop :

 https://www.scoopwhoop.com/volunteering-organisations-travel-for-free/#.hgjs3huax

  TripSavvy

https://www.tripsavvy.com/affordable-india-volunteer-opportunities-1539772

They more or less overlap, but there are a lot of places to travel and social work to do.

Two people, One Lesson

Currently I am reading Michelle Obama’s Autobiography called ‘Becoming’, alongside reading Paulo Coelho’s Aleph book.

While I was reading both these books I realized something. Both of them spoke of their life experiences which had the same lesson.

Nothing replaces hardwork. You want something you go for it

Michelle Obama

worked her way up to Princeton University. Through out her journey she had been extremely dedicated and focused. She coined her hard-work as ‘Effort/result’. You put in the effort you get the result.

Paulo Coelho

In Aleph, he spoke about the importance of practice. He said it should become intuitive that you conduct the work without having to think. He explained his lesson through a blacksmith he used to watch as a kid in the interiors of Brazil. He said that, even though the blacksmith seemed he did the same work over months, it was perfecting the intensity, and repeating the same task a dozen times

The three sins of Mediocrity I committed

If you haven’t noticed, the tagline for my blog is

“An ordinary girl with extraordinary ideas.”

Sixth Grade

Background

I have always considered myself average my whole life. Merely by the fact, I got average grades and lived an average life. My life went something like this,

” went to school,came back, ate, slept, woke up, played,maybe did my homework, went to bed early”

6th grade was the first time I broke the shackles of conventionality. I still vividly remember that moment I was standing in front of a mirror combing my hair that I finally woke.The mere fact that I woke I regarded as rebellious.

Ninth Grade

Background

I had a very sheltered upbringing until college, everything revolved around the naval areas. I hardly got a chance to explore the world beyond the naval gates.

Bus ride to Mc Donald’s and back

One day my friends, decided to grab a Mc Donald burger. For this escapade we needed to take a local bus. I was in. The plan sounded exciting, I had to take my dependent card ( which allowed me to enter Naval Premises ) from my mother. Apart from collecting whatever money I could throughout the week to fund this adventure.

Left the gates

The day finally arrived when we left the gates, took the bus and nothing made my heart feel more alive. I still remember how amazingly alive I felt. Something I hadn’t felt in a really long while.

We got off the bus and entered Mc Donald, ordered our burger. When I looked down at my phone to see my mother calling. I was worried,“Did she find out I left the gates?” “Would I be allowed back home?”. I looked at my friends, who advised me to answer it. I instantly became aware that Mc Donald’s had background music. I stepped outside, took a deep breathe and spoke to my mom to ask if I was alright.

The thrill of being free

Once we were done with out burgers, we headed out, to catch our bus, to head back home. We sat at the end of the bus jerking around as the bus bumped over the potholed roads. I couldn’t stop smiling. I never wanted to let go of that feeling.

First Year College

That basically sums up my entire college experience

Throwback 2015 :

I began college living an extremely monotonous life. I was tired, not the kind sleep could cure. One day I was standing in the in-front of a mirror in my hostel washroom when i woke up.  I needed some peace from the hustling city traffic.

Yeah I have become aware, most of my ‘woke’ moments have occured infront of a mirror.

I met a hostel senior who invited me for a trek to Bhimashankar
From that point forward I decided to live a more deliberate life.

Nothing ever lasted. I still went back to my routine. But what I have learnt from these experiences,you need them,to appreciate the good times.

10 Interesting fellowships to do in India

 If you are looking towards applying for fellowships in India, I have compiled different fellowships in the following categories.

Fellowships sponsored by Banks :

  1. SBI: Youth For India Fellowship 
  2. Yes Bank: Media for Social Change Fellowship 
  3. ICICI Bank : Indiafellow

Fellowships by Organisations :

  1. WWF: Young Media Climate Fellowship 
  2. Indiahikes: Green Trails Fellowship 
  3. American Indian Foundation : The clintion Fellowship
  4. Piramal Foundation : The Gandhi Fellowship
  5. IIHS : Urban Fellow

Fellowships by Universities 

  1. Ashoka University : Young India Fellowship (http://yifp.in/Uploads/Brochure/YIF-Student-flyer.pdf)
  2. Naropa Fellowship :
    http://www.naropafellowship.org/template/NaropaFellowship.pdf

Entrepreneurial Fellowships

  1. School for Social Entrepreneurs 
Social Problems Are Like Maths

"The skill of making and maintaining commonwealths consisteth in certain rules, as doth arithmetic and geometry"

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When I Decided.....

“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.” ― Ken Levine