Travelling to Silvassa, I realised how rusty my geography has become. Silvassa – I was pretty sure it was the capital of Dadra & Nagar Haveli. At least, I remember having learnt that in school. We had endless lists of states and union territories, and we had to learn the capital of each one, in addition to other details that have been wiped out of my memory.
(Perhaps I should not complain. There are more states now than there used to be when I was in school.)
I ‘alighted’ (I find the word so beautifully archaic, but the station had a sign saying ‘ALIGHT HERE FOR DAMAN AND SILVASSA’) at Vapi, Gujarat, and all the way to Silvassa, there were bridges and sign-boards welcoming me and thanking me for my visit. I couldn’t figure out who was welcoming me where and who was thanking me for visiting what.
Geographical confusions aside, I had a lovely time, conducting a workshop for sales teams from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. It was an enriching experience, working with people from different places and backgrounds. I met wonderful people, committed to working in schools to improve the system of education. I heard about evolving teaching methodologies, and the way in which school textbooks are being restructured in keeping with a child’s needs.
While I enjoyed myself and learned a lot through my session there, a part of me realised again that we deliberately cut off much of our imagination as we pass from childhood to adulthood. Working with adults was completely different, focussing on immediate gains, rather than an enjoyable ride into imagination.
In itself, that is not problematic. What is problematic, for me, is the link I plainly see between this practical approach and a lack of freedom of thought. The moment we spoke of flying pigs and other such fantastic things, there was self-conscious laughter.
I realised, with a start, that everyone wants to imagine, but somewhere along the line, we begin to feel that imagination is pointless. A waste of time.
When I talk about this, many ask me, Well? Isn’t it a waste of time?
I give people grand answers about language-acquisition through literature, and storytelling as a means of education. But really, I find that these are just ‘practical approach’ answers that I’ve devised over time.
What I want to say is this: When we ride on a ferris wheel, do we find it a waste of time? Do we ride a ferris wheel thinking of what we’ll gain from it? Yet, as a side-benefit, if the ferris wheel gives us a view of the city, will it not change the way we look at the world?