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Life is beyond uncertainties – The spark of Doing What You Love!

Every day, at around 5:00 AM, I’d be rushing down the flight of steps to board the Churchgate local transiting through Vasai Road (a small town in the outskirts of Mumbai) to kick-start my day as a University student. In about 90 minutes I’d be at the Churchgate station at an hour of the day where Bombay still seemed to be dressed in the freshness of a golden morn. Treasuring the silence, I’d be happily strolling down the heritage lanes of South Bombay, or stop by the bay and relish the beauty of the morning calm. With the rise of the Sun, my hours would soon be devoted to attending Sociology lectures followed by French lessons until late afternoons.  Towards the start of a pleasant evening, I’d slip into the shanty slums of Dharavi and transition my role from a student to a part-time English and French teacher at a non-profit. This was what had got me productive during the weekdays. The weekends, however, were quite rigorously meant for short day trips and a volunteer project that identified me as an online English tutor for the orphans of rural West Bengal. Occasionally I’d also be gladly working part-time as a city guide, showing around hidden nooks of Bombay to guests from Sri Lanka, Turkey, West Indies, Canada, Australia, just to name a few! 

Bundi, Rajasthan

Right from my hours spent studying culture, norms, and society to exploring the diverse vividity of this globe as a Sociology and a French student, I’ve always loved the idea of materializing my learnings; in an environment that would allow me to share my skills and take it to the ones in need. Certainly, that was what led me to start working in Dharavi and eventually handed me a fellowship in rural Rajasthan. Simultaneously, my love for traveling to foreign lands and connecting with people from across the globe also motivated me to come up with my travel blog – ‘Steps and Streets‘ to share my travel stories. 

My work in Rajasthan was that of an English teacher at a rural school which parallelly also allowed me to travel and write stories during school vacations and long holidays. However, a few months down the line, a prolonged illness dropped me at the crossroads of quitting the fellowship and looking for another job in the development sector or diving into a less-promising career option of being a full-time travel writer. I chose the second one. The one that I’ve always had connected with. 

With my students in Tilonia

Tanisha with her students in Tilonia, Rajasthan

Since then, my travel-writing career has taken me to the remote villages of the Uttarakhand Himalayas, to lesser-known heritage nooks in Rajasthan, and several other parts of West Bengal, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. 

But none of this was a bed of roses. There still are days where I think of opting for a full-time job. But every time I think such, I’m turned down by a virtual loop of all the adventures I’ve had on the road ever since I got into travel blogging. Despite the pain and the instability of financially sustaining my life as a digital nomad, I’d never trade this life of pure bliss and pure struggle for anything that is less exciting than the one that I’m in. 

At an unmapped village, Uttarakhand

Ever since I was 17 till today that I’m 21, I’ve never thought of rewinding or living my life differently! As a less-experienced teenager to an ever-evolving adult, I’ve always chosen what rang with my passion. 

By the verandah, as I sip my coffee overlooking the fresh paddy fields of Bengal, once again, I ask myself, ‘how do I manage to stick to the drama of having a life with all sort of uncertainties?’, my gut simply murmurs, ‘That’s the spark of doing what you love!’

Tanisha Guin
(YIC Mumbai 2017)

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THE POWER OF IKIGAI AND THE POTENTIAL OF DREAMS

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When you have the spark in your eyes and the fire in your belly, no challenge remains big enough to stop.

Hi, this is Rashmi Subramanian, a 22-year old Social entrepreneur. I wake up every single day with a passion to improve the quality of education in India. 

It’s not an easy task to convert your passion into your profession and picking subjects like Ancient Indian Culture at the graduate and Philosophy, Religion and Culture at the postgraduate level, when there are thousands of engineers, MBAs, CAs in this world, makes this journey unconventional and lonely. 

My journey to do something for the education landscape in this country ignited in my mind as a school going kid. I had a natural inclination and a never-ending passion for history and political science. At an early stage from Grade 6- Grade 10, the negligence of these subjects and the step-motherly treatment it received. It was hard to break the herd mentality for me. To be the only student in the class of 56 to select humanities was a tough path to choose. To declare your love for history and political science 

This actually made me realise that the negligence of these subjects and the rampant rote-learning is something that seriously needs to tackled and eliminated systematically in our country. 

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I consider myself lucky to have college professors and mentors who have given their unconditional love and unlimited support to my ‘craziness ’. And learning from them gave me an idea to start an education organization that will remove boredom and dull content of social studies and replace it with creative learning keeping the historical and constitutional values intact. 

My internship stints with different NGOs and interaction with many people who work in the education domain fuelled my passion to be an entrepreneur. Somebody who wakes up every single day with zeal and enthusiasm.

When I see students question about history and political science in the classroom, I receive the motivation for my work. When I give teachers guidelines and content, equip them with knowledge, I am satisfied that I am creating change-makers. 

To work in this domain is actually similar to solving a jigsaw puzzle. Hence, I realised that PAHELI would be the best name for this. And PAHELI is also an acronym for Political And Historical Engagement for Learners of India. Currently, PAHELI is working on the empowerment of teachers and students to create politically aware and historically active students who will shape the India of tomorrow. 

With PAHELI, there are so many opportunities to explore and the schools today understand the need for strengthening social studies. How can we tackle social problems in this country if we cannot teach social studies effectively? This has been the central question that I try to bring to limelight through my work in PAHELI. 

I believe it is the power of the dreams that helped me get the vision to work for my country. Whenever you face problems, convert them into solutions and you will eventually find the purpose to live an enriching life. 

Remember self-created barriers and restrictions can be toxic in your life. These convert to regret when you turn old. Do not let these come in your way! 

Live a meaningful life and leave a footprint when you die for others to take inspiration from!

Rashmi Subramanian
(YIC RGIT Mumbai 2017)