By Neha Buch:Â
When I joined SMILE, I went for a film screening and discussion on Narmada Bachao Andolan. I come from a background where my father belongs to the Gujarat cadre of the civil service. I had been brought up on these notions of how the dam is really brilliant for Kutch and there will be so much water. And then I go into this discussion where I hear completely the opposite story and I exclaim, “Hey hang on a minute! What are you saying?! This is all propaganda. There is so much water coming in.” I remember that for the first time I wasn’t shut up. No one in this NGO actually told me that what you are saying is crap, that you have to be pro-NBA. Instead, they said, “Sure, you make a great point. Do you have something that can tell that side of the story?” And I said, “Sure, I’ll get you a documentary and show you what it’s about.” And I think that stayed with me.
When I finally went to NBA, all my notions on which I had been raised as a child about NBA — that dams are great, and the NBA does not want to negotiate, etc., just completely changed. It shook me up totally from inside because it was so closely connected with my family. I remember I took those experiences at NBA back home and had so many long debates with my father. And it is quite incredible because today when I talk to him about it, he has moved on his stance too. It’s not just about being pro-dam any more. Everything about the dam is not necessarily good and the rehabilitation piece just has to be taken care of. So there has been this huge turn around that impacted also my family.
What I get from this space is the personal connection. I had so many opportunities to have one-on-one discussions, where people have also invested in my learning and growing. There would be many debates and arguments — but there would also be many opportunities and the space to meet people who were very different. I was meeting people from Deshbandhu college, from Ambedkar college, young people who were not in college, people who were designing, people who belonged to a world that I didn’t even know existed and it was so much fun to learn all about this and to start seeing and exploring myself more. I came in with a sense of under-confidence, with a notion that I have to prove to people how great I am and this place just took that part of me and started chipping away at it slowly and steadily and saying… ok, why does it have to be in comparison with someone else? Why not just be the best of who you are? And what’s so bad about you right now in any case? And I was like… Hmmm…I never thought of it that way!
I have been overwhelmed by the love and the experiences I have had. I have loved every moment of it, which is probably why I continue to be here. Learning how to handle conflicts has been my biggest learning during this journey — be it with my parents, be it here at work with my colleagues and friends. I see conflicts as a part of life. I don’t get hassled or stressed about it as much as I did earlier. I also learnt about dealing with things with transparency and honesty. Being genuine, understanding where the other person is coming from and inspiring the same from them. That’s how I choose to handle conflicts with others.
Going ahead, my journey is going to be about helping to create 5th spaces and joyful communities within and without – with other young people. Working on ourselves, continuing to fine tune and create more such opportunities for young people and others who work with the young.
This article is a part of the 5th space series on Youth Ki Awaaz. 5th Space is an initiative toÂ facilitate young people to expand beyond the typical 4 spaces of career-edu, family, friends and leisure by exploring the 5th space, a journey from self to society and back.Â For more information visit theÂ 5th Space Facebook page.
We are happy to invite youÂ on behalf ofÂ ComMutiny — The Youth CollectiveÂ andÂ PravahÂ to the following event:
“Democracy Demo: Youth create Un-Manifesto for 2013-13 Elections”
Date: 23rdÂ February, 2013
Venue:Â Â Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, Circular Road, Teen Murti Marg, (Opp Chanakyapuri Police Station)