I have been rather successful these past weeks, yet all of it is due to only a few things I did right. Here I reflect on them and hope that they be helpful to you too:

  • I pay attention everyday for language pieces I can pick up and put together. The funnier the better! My first breakthrough came when I was eating dinner. I learnt pane, jivan and jevan, meaning water, life and meal respectively. From there I made my first Marathi sentence: “Pane he jivan ahe.” It was easy from there to improvise pane to chai, maushi and whatever else entertains in the moment. It became my first running joke.
  • I prepare to get on the same page with everyone. Sometimes it only takes a little bit of researching to start and carry on a conversation. By looking out for the most important things to know before every meeting, I earn my colleagues’ respect one by one.
  • I invite friends into the village. The first time with Jyoti I got some boras instead of apples, and this was most useful to share with friends the following days, especially on our trip to Pune shopping for materials. The second time I had the idea to go for chai I shouted it out from the ground floor to my friend Gudiya on the second floor. Apparently people heard it and all wanted to go out for some chai and giggle time.
  • I look out for jokes. There is always something interesting in the workshop and it becomes really easy to come up with fun ideas. Shubham made a foam hammer for providing sunshine, I found a thermometer cap whose brand name was Ego and made it the egometer watch, for Suhas birthday I made him a ring the size of his wrist. In general, it’s best to not wait around. Let contagious positivity fill up the space.
  • I confront my own negative actions. It’s easy to spot the bad behaviors when most of the time it’s well. This may not work on a long term basis but my stay was short enough to keep things from getting too complicated.
  • I solve my own problems. Being new in the workshop made it easy for me to fall back on the habit of feeling confused and discouraged too quickly when there were road blocks. And yet I managed to occasionally overcome this tendency. This works when I take time at the beginning of the day to plan out my work, when I discuss with my partner before jumping into the workshop, when I explain my problem to a colleague, when I go around to solve others’ problems, when I challenge other’s solutions with my own, when I clarify what to experiment for when there are no clear solutions and when I insist on doing the work myself. Take a clever twist to puzzling situations, and keep the ideas flowing.
  • I expect the occasion, grab an idea as quickly as possible and perform with confidence. This has worked out for me so many times during my stay it is truly surprising. Yet I like to believe it isn’t just chance and that I can use the same kind of mindset again successfully.