Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Divas 215: Let me grow unaccustomed to you.

I enjoyed my reading of The Power of Now and Ars Amatoria this morning before munching on some yummy Maharashtrian karanjis -- coconut-stuffed pastries. Yummm.


My first meeting of the day was to the office of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan ("Education for All"), a government program focusing on the infrastructure, inclusion, and quality of primary schools across the state. I got to meet with Mr. Sanjay Deshmukh (State Project Director) and Ms. Mrinalini Nimbalkar (Assistant Director) for an overview of the project's vision, progress, and challenges thus far.


The two gave me a great overview of the program, and I was happy to hear of provisions such as the reservation of 25 percent of openings in schools for underprivileged students, and inclusion of 50 percent females on school management committees. However, the main obstacle to the program continues to be retention of students after they have enrolled in government schools. Having experienced this during Gyaan Ghar's early stages, I suggested education of families on the importance of primary education (of course, a number of social and economic factors complicate this matter substantially) and also mentioned the experience of student input in school administration I experienced in Recife on Gap Day 34.

I learned a wealth of information from the morning's appointment, and even finished with plenty of time before my next one! I decided to do something unusual for me and browse a nearby mall for an outfit for my next photo shoot with superstar Sonal. Having found some satisfactory sundresses, a nearby stationery store caught my eye -- at last, a sub-par replacement for my beloved blue pen!


Funnily enough, this store happened to be very close to where I had been when I realized I lost my pen in the first place, so I could have healed myself of my heartache much sooner. Lesson: we are often too busy freaking out about a problem to notice a solution right in front of our eyes! (Phony philosophy, anyone?)

This afternoon, I met with Arvind Uncle for an overview of energy generation, transmission, and distribution in Maharashtra. Power is something I knew virtually nothing about, so it was really refreshing and enjoyable to learn about it today. Uncle gave me some literature on Maharashtra's energy challenges, which I perused before asking him questions on each and every part I didn't understand (i.e. a lot).


Most interesting to me was the state's incorporation of renewable energy sources. Bagasse-based co-generation (sugarcane ethanol) and wind energy are the renewable sources used most widely now, and Uncle sees biomass and solar expanding in the near future, due to government subsidies. The future looks illuminated!

I spent the ride home catching up with family the world over while admiring magical Mumbai smog at sunset.


Once back, I practiced Vipassana meditation for an hour before filling in Auntie and Uncle on my day over dinner. How lucky I am to have all these opportunities!

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