Conversations With Lasting Impressions | Milaap

Conversations With Lasting Impressions

1st July, 2018 after a 32 hours train journey from Kolkata I arrived at Bangalore for my 6 months journey as a Milaap Fellow. After several failed attempts in trying to book an Ola or Uber, I decided to step out albeit a bit apprehensively and with slight hesitation and try out other options to reach my destination. The hesitancy and fear was due to having no knowledge of the local language. As soon as my stepped out, I was surrounded by local auto-rickshaw drivers. To my surprise and delight, they spoke in Hindi. After haggling over the price, we reached an agreement. I was intrigued by the fact that the locals could speak in fluent Hindi and decided to take it up with the driver, Mr Kamat. His answer was that it was a matter of necessity for them to learn Hindi as there is presence of lot of people from North India. It’s helps us in conducting our business. He, however, pointed out that it would be a welcome sign if people from other states could also learn a bit of the local Kannada language.  “It will lessen the divide has come between us and also help in gaining a better grasp of each other’s culture”, he said.

Sri Vidya- Milaap Fellow 10th Batch, on the quest of discovering her identity
My conversation with Sri Vidya, a co-fellow at Milaap gave me a new insight into identity. Vidya parents are Brahmin and strict vegetarians. However, contrary to her parent's belief, Vidya simply loves to gorge of non-vegetarian food. Being someone who is very religious, I couldn’t help asking her about this. Following is our conversation
“Hey, Vidya, I kind of find it strange that your parents are Brahmins and vegetarians, and yet you dabble with non-vegetarian food,” I said.
“Look the point is I don’t want to be identified with my parent's identity. My parents have a certain religious belief and based on that they are vegetarians. I respect their belief but as far as I am concerned I am trying to discover myself. I don’t want to be tied down with an identity given by someone else even if it’s my parents” replied Vidya.

Amit Bali- Milaap Fellow 10th Batch

Amit Bali, another co fellow at Milaap, was born in Kolkata and not in the place of his ancestors simply because of militancy which drove the native Kashmiri Pandits out of their home. Being driven out of your home just because of your religious identity is not something one wishes to experience. Amit has never seen the house in which his parents have lived, where his mother spent her childhood courtesy of religious zealots who burned it down.
Most of the youngsters in their early or mid 20’s are today in a race either to get a good job or increase the income. This is more so among those who have taken up engineering as a career. Well, two fellows at Milaap, Ram Prasad, and Adithya Acharya have a very different take on this. Adithya was working with Google India and having a handsome salary but decided to quit and take up a new challenge of cracking the Civil Services. Ram having completed his B.Tech decided to buck the trend and decided to explore and accordingly applied for Milaap Fellowship.

Amarnath Pattnaik- Employee at Mahshakti Foundation

I would like to highlight two things on which my experience with Mahashakti Foundation is based upon. The first being that Friday is an important religious day for people of the Muslim community. The second is that when it comes to non-vegetarian food Muslims prefer “Halal” food. It has to with the method of slaughtering the animal.
When I asked for the directions to the nearest mosque Mr. Amarnath Pattnaik, an employee at Mahashakti Foundation, went one step ahead and took it up upon himself to drop me to the mosque.
When the management at Mahashakti Foundation found out that I am a Muslim, they took the decision to serve halal food on days when there is non-vegetarian food on the menu at their canteen. The enormity of the decision can be grasped from the fact that amidst the workforce of 40, I am the only one who is a Muslim.
Thus, it was an eventful month as a Fellow. I am looking forward to the next 5 months.