Tag Archives: qualitative evaluation

Passing through the luminal

9 Mar

A luminal is defined in anatomical terms as a ‘passage, duct, or cavity in a tubular organ’. I like to think of it as a tunnel, or a tight passageway, with a light shining at the end.

In many ways this describes my experience of working on this project. I’d quit my job in Australia, taken a leap of faith in travelling to India and ended up on a new path – one more aligned with my values, with more creativity and freedom.

Challenging? Yes. Enlightening? Absolutely.

The simplest analogy I can use to explain how it felt, comes from an incident during the first week of my stay in Delhi.

I’d moved into a great flat with my own bathroom attached to the bedroom. One night I got up to use the toilet and found I’d unknowingly locked myself out of the bathroom.

Yes: 1am, a full bladder, and nowhere to go.

Fortunately, my housemate had been working late so I was able to use her bathroom and go back to sleep.

But I still needed my things – my glasses were in there.

The following morning my housemate asks her cleaning lady to bring a young man to crawl through a small window connecting our bathrooms, opening the locked door once inside.

I arrive home early to find the cleaning lady and her friend waiting for me. But there seems to have been some confusion about the ‘young man’ required for the job. They’d brought along her friend’s eight year old son!

I’m looking at the boy (those big brown eyes staring back at me), then up at the window, then back at the boy – think Old Spice Ad, only less amusing.

“Absolutely not,” I tell them. “Do you know how many international conventions on the rights of children we would be violating? Not to mention the extreme risk of skull fractures and spino-cerebral damage occurring? No, I will endeavour to resolve this problem myself”.

Given that no-one else spoke English, here’s what I really said: “No, me go”.

The bathroom window

Bit of a stretch alright

So, with a chair and a lot of hefting and heaving from the two sari clad ladies, I found myself suspended halfway through the window.

My head and chest were hanging into the locked room, one leg swinging like a pendulum in the other room and my other knee wedged up under my chin.

For one very long moment……………………………………………………………..I was stuck.

Going forward felt impossible, yet it didn’t feel like I could go back, not without squashing the women calling out hindi advice below me.

In an adrenalin-fuelled split second I learnt a lot about myself – about risk taking, fear facing and trust. Would I fall head first in the toilet bowl? Would my insurance cover this? Was I wearing clean underwear?…

zen quote to know oneself

Image courtesy of David Schiller's Zen Page-A-Day 2010 Calendar

Taking a deep breath, I visualised my little arms lowering me safely down into the room and then…

I let go.

Next thing I know I’m standing in the room and unlocking the door. I’m shaken (and stirred) but unharmed.

The women and small boy are with me, touching my reddened arms and knees, making sure I’m ok. We’re laughing as they tell me it’s lucky I’m not mota (fat).

It felt good to be on the other side.

zen quote flying

Image courtesy of David Schiller's Zen Page-A-Day 2010 Calendar

Personal spider diagrams

8 Mar

A friend of mine keeps asking me how my spider webs are going. She’s referring to the post I did about tracking my personal goals early on in the project – Follow the joy. So here are all the ‘spider webs’ from start to finish…

Project Start – 1st September 2010

1 September 2010 Liz Spider Diagram

Two weeks before the Games – 18th September 2010

18 September 2010 Liz Spider Diagram

Just after the Games – 17th October 2010

17 October 2010 Liz Spider Diagram

Project End – 29th November 2010

29 November 2010 Liz Spider Diagram

I learnt a truckload in all 5 areas and I did have a go at doing all the things I set out to do in the original post, some with more success than others.

For example, simply immersing yourself in a different country is a great way to pick up a lot of the history and culture of a place (and I did spend a significant amount of time watching Bollywood films!)

On the other hand, enhancing my creativity by buying some eco-friendly, Indian fashion items was trickier than I thought. Although I did end up with a couple of Conserve India’s fabulous upcycled bags, I frequently left Delhi’s numerous clothes markets empty-handed, going: “Yeah it’s cheap, but at what cost?”

But I want to focus this post on one particular area – health and wellbeing and my response to stress.

This was my most significant change.

We were trying to work with a very big, chaotic event in an unusual set of circumstances.  Corruption claims, flooding, disease outbreaks, tourist shootings, buildings and roads crumbling…there were so many things outside my control that this project became a lesson in letting go.

Around the time of the third spider diagram (straight after the Games) we hit a crunch point where it looked like we might not get any waste directly from the Games.

I was stressed.

My health took a nose dive.

I realised I had a choice: I could continue trying to push things, trying to convince the Games organisers to work with us or…

I could do nothing.

By nothing, I mean that I could stop stressing and trust I’d done enough in my role with Conserve India, that I’d talked to enough people, that synchronicity would reveal itself if I just sat back a bit and let it flow.

Choosing the latter path I intentionally stayed home and rested, instead of going out to chase waste across the city.

And because I stayed home, with ready access to the internet, I was able to quickly respond to a surprise call from the Times of India. It’s almost certain I would not have met the journalist’s deadline if I had been out.

The TOI article in particular, ignited significant ongoing media and corporate interest in our project. It also helped us leverage access to Games waste.

By giving up control and learning to relax more, the project took on a life of it’s own and I felt healthier and happier.

It was almost as if the project delivered me, rather than the other way round.

So, dear readers, we are nearly at the end of this project blog – one more post tomorrow and we are done!

Thankyou for following our journey. Interestingly, the ‘net’ that I wished would appear to catch my fall was literally a net – the internet. The support we received via your comments, emails, responses to our questions (many from total strangers) was truly encouraging.

I’m also grateful for the dozens of people we met in Delhi, who helped us in many varied and significant ways.

And, of course, I’m indebted to the team at Conserve India. For without them, there was no project.

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