Saturday, October 13, 2012

Processing elephant dung

Bring 75% prepared elephant dung and 25% waste cotton together in water, allow your mixture to lie on a fine wire mesh frame, lift, turn over the frame, press down allowing the newly minted sheet to detach from the frame,  from where it will pressed to remove the water then dried. You have a sheet of paper.

On Thursday I made two sheets and they are now in my bag on the way home.

I was visiting Vijendra and his family - first in their home come paper works and second in a field they had purchased two hours drive from Jaipur where we learnt some aspects of Indian cookery: a new recipe for Dahl, how to roll a chapati and make a bread ball (whose name I forget) that is a specialty of Rajasthan - all under the stars, sparkling clear in the darkest of nights.

Vijendra's story, which, as a high context individual, he related in great detail was fascinating. A slow spiral movement from childhood poverty (his father had leprosy) to his current success and future prospects. (see http://elephantpoopaper.com/).

We were this week exploring 'leadership' and I was struck that while we focus on leaders as individuals, they come to be out of a matrix of relationships - interestingly repeatedly people, including Vijendra, made mention of strong relationships with their mothers. These appeared to confer on each individual a strong sense of identity and a holding love that creates a binding limit to the natural fears that are a part of any life (and which for many hold them in check, limiting their options and their flourishing).

I began the week with an open mind about 'Leaders Quest' (http://www.leadersquest.org/). How much can one see, learn, contribute in only (if a full) six days? But the underlying methodology of asking questions rather than leaping to judgement, crossing diverse social and cultural spaces and enabling both connections and contradictions to emerge; and, mixing diverse people bearing radically different experience, perceptions and knowledge together, if skillfully facilitated (which it was on this occasion) works.

I have much to process internally as I leave India.


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