Sunday, November 18, 2007

The lack of posting reflects a lack of time as opposed to lack of things to say. The internship is in full flow and the workload is easily enough to work 7 days a week, which I am doing.

Today I went for breakfast to the same hotel where, as I sat by a lobby pond of Koi Carp the other week I suddenly had my first nosebleed in a good few years. This time, although the food was good, the staff attentive and I got a much needed haircut the same edge of the unexpected and the unsettling crept in. It sounds weird but the toilet bowl swirled menacingly when I flushed it. I mean really! The other surprise was the amount of dust ingrained into my neck, scalp and hair from the 6 day field trip last week. When I got a haircut the guy sprayed water mist and rubbed my head down with a towel after the cut and I swear the towel was covered in grime. I had been washing of course, but this stuff is fine grained and had just got everywhere. It was very embarrassing. I don't normally burble excuses to strangers, but there I was...

What else? The work has been good if demanding. I am about to go to the villages in the south of the state again to conduct the research which I piloted last week. Should be doable in 6 days, if a little tight. I also did a short report for the NGO on the pilot of a small loan scheme dedicated to education funding loans. The idea is to use the SHG framework to supply credit for this specific purpose to rural communities. Everyone wants it to happen. Parents know desperately that education is the key to economic autonomy and are quite prepared to sacrifice almost everything to make sure their children get good schooling and more. However the route to a sustainable and affordable solution, necessarily involving the local banks, is not clear. The pilot was too small and rudimentary to draw many conclusions. I have to recommend a way forward.

Before leaving for the field trip on Wednesday night I need to finish a redraft of the NGO's strategic plan, and also complete the accompanying Action Plan. This is all very well, and I am of course receiving contributions from all departments, but the original document isn't very well written and time is tight. We need to give it to a senior manager from a large UK consultancy firm who is coming to do an organisational review (free) for 3 weeks from Nov 27. She will need to make sense of it and then assess if the NGO is up to the task or not. My feeling is that, yes it is, but the structure of the organisation needs to change and become more process driven rather than being so conventionally department oriented. But what do I know....I'm short of at least 1, possibly 2, degrees and about 5 years professional experience with regards such decisions.

But that is what happens when you leave the first career, which was unhealthy, to pursue a second on the other side of the world which itself ends up being unsuitable for a host of other reasons. I see that I am very much living a pattern of geographical and metier migration the crystallisation of which is unforeseeable and perhaps uncertain. Its hard for some people to reconcile such an outcome with an apparent bias from the start towards some kind of relatively conventional path, even if the route looked poorly marked at points. And in some ways it is conventional - dully so.

Felt another way I remind myself that each life is lived entirely differently to all others, when experienced personally, and our ability to really empathise and understand others is severely hampered by our conditioning and the power of the forces acting invisibly and unperceived on our lives. Forces on a grand scale, like climate change, and on a minutely personal level, like hormonal fluctuations, which we take so for granted, are in fact the things which in one way unite us and would seem to pull us together while at the same time they inexorably divide and insulate us from one another.

A lot of the dissonance in perspective between people, family members, friends, colleagues, is there because of a fundamental distinction in understanding; between those who at root feel that we can know what we do and why, and those who perceive a reality where such certainty of knowledge seems illusory and deceptive. This distinction draws people apart in another way too because it goes to the very heart of answering questions about personal identity. If you strip away work, friends and relatives individuals are immediately faced with a huge gap in self-understanding, even self acceptance. For most people this would seem to be a crisis of sorts. Even removing one of these elements can provoke extreme anxiety. Witness the number of us who in reality shudder at the thought of more than a couple of weeks off work, although it is never admitted (I hasten to add that I am not in this camp!).

Whichever way we see the world we are forced to live with an incipient knowledge of uncertainty and illusion, or put another way, boundless possibility and the tantalising chance of clarity. Each optic can be held close to the heart, either with love or a tight, tight grasp.

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