The Prologue

Something always gives way to something better to come. 2014 ends on a good note, and here it is 2015. Standing tall on my face. Yes I know I haven’t saved the world yet in past some time, and I intend not to, the world should be mature enough to take its own care. What rather has been intriguing that 2014 ended with a few good memories, a long travel, and a path that led me to 2015.  Speaking of 2015, a month passed just like that, and its February already.

Being an explorer, the focus certainly remains on exploring something. Till now I have been exploring something or else in the tech world, my only escape/exception in past two years being my trip in June 2014. As it is said, ‘be careful what you wish for’, came true in a positive way. Rewind a few weeks back, one fine morning I got a call from members at Jatan Sansthan, that they have a project coming where I could help them with to initiate. The project was regarding setting up of e-labs for social welfare in few blocks of Railmagra which falls in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan in India.

Now, Jatan Sansthan has been next to a family to me. It has been quite sometime I’ve been working with them, helping them with my skills as and when required. About my experiences and learnings from Jatan, I’d be writing entire series of blogposts soon, stay tuned for them. Hence, without asking much about the whereabouts of the projects, I said a yes to them. Then began a series of video/audio conference calls from the folks at India to the folks at Toronto, Canada. These calls were mostly targeted towards the configuration of the hardware required, facilities available and expected, etc as the team would bring with them the equipment from Canada.

Making a (wise) decision?

Fast forward again to the month of February, first two days of the month were really full of dilemma. The project demanded me to go on-field at Railmagra, where the folks from Toronto with whom we’ve been talking to would be joining us. I had a few personal and professional commitments along with which the dates for the project were clashing. Hence, I was refraining a bit to agree to go on-field.

“But this is something new and challenging”, said my heart. Yes. The heart again gave a powerful statement. I did all the recalculations, managed clashing dates, planned to work for other things remotely after the workday at Railmagra gets over. That said, lets fix it! The brain kept asking, was it a wise decision? Rajsamand itself has somewhat lesser than acceptable internet connectivity, Railmagra is an even further remote place, what about that? What if internet doesn’t work there properly? Everything else would get doomed. Having a lot on head, as well as an upcoming presentation/lecture at IIM-U had to be prepared right at Railmagra itself. What if there isn’t proper electricity itself? “Chuck it”, the heart said.

So I was finally onboard. Now I was at peace to go through the entire file of the subject. So as it turns out, participating the project was the 25+ year old IT giant from Canada, Softchoice Corporation. For the benefit of rural children and their effective education in developing nations such as India, Softchoice Cares, the CSR wing of Softchoice Corporation decided to set up four e-Labs in the district of Rajasthan, India. For the same, it decided to join hands with Jatan Sansthan, a grassroots organization that has a name and trust among people for its works.

Under the programme, a team of 12 board members from Softchoice Corporation visited India under the leadership of Robert ‘Nick’ Foster in February 2015. Pre-arrival, a thorough series of video conference calls started months before the actual date to get a grasp of the Indian environment, from both viewpoints of the setup of eLabs and the climate, etc. about which I already mentioned above.

So, Railmagra and the entire experience is going to be as new to me as to them. I will be going to have a small trip with them, where I would be accompanied by a trip facilitator and would be staying at Jatan’s guest house with him. A wish of staying in a hostel with a fellow roomie coming true years after the college life ended. What an irony!

It is 7th February, just a day before I’d meet the team, I and the to-be roommate were called at Jatan’s office for the briefing and getting acquainted. And what a surprise! He turns out to be my old college mate, Rajat Paliwal. Better than someone totally unknown in an unknown place. So, we are given the proper instructions, made aware of the time table, schedules to be followed, with precautionary do’s and don’ts. Excited and eager, I was looking forward to the next day. Would my decision be a wise decision? Tough call judging in advance. Gotta be a sleepless night tonight.