During the break yesterday a young man approached me and said that there would be a follow-up meeting on Youth in Movements tonight at 10. Though I had to decline I learned from Suresh that they did meet and talked till 1am and planned a youth convention for early next year. More power to the youth! Yet another refreshing change from earlier NAPM conventions.
I took a few AID 2015 calendars to give to contributors including Ashish Kothari and others who have contributed to the development of AID as an organization. They had just come off the press on 2 October, reached the zonal headquarters by the second week of October and I brought a box with me to India. To my surprise several of them already had them. For example, when I spoke to Michael he said, “I already have one.” I wondered if he had met Medha tai who had made time for a talk with AID when she was in Washington DC for the World Bank meetings / protests in mid October. No, he replied with a twinkle in his eye. Then I remembered that he had given a talk on Gandhian Engineering in Dallas, which was one of our zonal headquarters. Along came Madhuresh. I proceeded to offer him a calendar and he laughed his signature Madhuresh laugh and said, “I got it from the source.” All around people smiled. “Here Aravinda is thinking she has brought the calendars hot off the press –” Ah! Press! Our press was in Berkeley and Madhuresh had given a talk in Berkeley … though by my calculations even the Berkeley chapter hadn’t collected the calendars before his talk. Unless they have time travel ‘twould be impossible as the calendars went to press on the very same day. Ah well, there’s more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in my philosophy. “Whom did you meet in Berkeley?” I asked. “Srikanth,” he replied. Can Srikanth really run that fast? At any rate, it just goes to show that NAPM folks get to AID chapters much faster than I can get to them.
On the main stage, someone was appealing to those present to help contribute towards the expenses. Considering the very low registration fee of Rs. 100 it was not at all surprising that they would have needed voluntary contributions to make ends meet. However, as the speaker rightly pointed out, “we tend to be very shy about asking for donations, we haven’t even kept a donation box on the table.” True. An ongoing plight of movements and activists, which we all need to think more creatively to address. Ideally all of us should be pitching in as we go along so that there remains no need to collect money, but acknowledging our limitations, we have to find a reasonable threshold for allowing concerned people to donate and thus share the burden with those who are at the heart of planning and organizing.
We left the meeting early to visit the laboratory of Arvind Gupta of “Toys from Trash” fame. He had come to the NAPM meeting on Day 2 and was quite impressed with Nikhil Waghle’s talk. Overflowing with enthusiasm about his toys, video demonstrations, books and the kind of collaborations that had sparked up around the world over the decades of his work, as well as a few choice words for scientists who “just write papers to attend conferences abroad,” he showed us around his lab. His colleagues, Ashok Rupner whom we had first met more than 15 years ago and travelled together to Manibeli on foot after missing the boat from Kevadia Colony, and Manish Jain whom we had met at the India Homeschoolers’ Conference were there and showed us some of the toys and experimental set-ups.
In the evening we got to Vanaj Auto / Bus stand in Kothrud, home of Sanjay Sangvai whom we had last met before his untimely death in 2007. The buses were packed because although Dipavali was more than a week ago, the vacation extended through this weekend and so the rush hit today. We ordered dosas to go from a little hotel called Swagat. At first they told us that the dosa cook was not in. However five minutes later they called us back. “भूक लगे तो क्या करे? बुलाना पड़ेगा, ना?” she replied. Luckily we got on a bus within an hour and in spite of heavy traffic getting out of the city got home in reasonably good time.