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    Jugaadoo Jugaadoo Document Transcript

    • Jugaadoo!   1 
    • What does it mean to positively transform society? And why do some people feel a need to do so? “Is it worth spending your entire life building a bridge that you may never cross yourself?” “Answer me this--during your trip through India, did you ever take shade under a tree you planted?”   2 
    • One evening in Chennai. Alex: What would you do with your life if you were told you were going to die? Kumar: Yeah, I’m not sure what I would do if I was told I was going to die. Colin: Well guess what? You are going to die. What are you going to do about it?   3 
    • A Start. Namaste! Wow. Where to begin? I arrived back from India two nights ago, and I start school again in 5 days. I have about a million thoughts running through my head at this moment. It will take time to fully comprehend the experience of the past two months. This document contains my personal take on the journey. A very brief account in terms of everything we experienced. Rest assured, we have the whole thing on tape! We certainly jumped headfirst into India. Bargained with the paan-spitting rickshaw drivers of Delhi—only found ourselves in one rickshaw accident. Purchased plastic Buddha’s from children tapping on our windows. Ate dosa’s and chuttney from the street side vendors, and asked for seconds. Folded our hands and said “Namaste”. Slept in a filthy train station in Dhanbad, “the Coal Capital of India”. Treated to dinner at the Taj Hotel by an oil man. Never nodded “yes” or “no” when asked if we would like bottled water, but instead bobbled our heads. Bathed in the Ganges River despite knowing it is perhaps the dirtiest waters in the world. Visited an IT call center. Heard our fortunes told by a Hindu spirit speaking through a man in a temple in a village in Rajasthan (the spirit says I should get a brown dog). Realized that giant holes in the sidewalks are to be expected at night. The details written in this document are simply the major parts that pop into my head at the moment (and what I have been able to crank out in the past two days!). However, the small parts are just as important. Spending time with the rickshaw pullers of Kolkata. Flying kites on a Sunday afternoon with slum kids over railroad tracks. Sitting along a cliff watching an impending storm approach from the ocean. Attending an Indian wedding and celebrating life in Delhi. Speaking to an old woman about what it was like to meet Ghandi. We nearly completed a full circle around India: Delhi. Varanasi. Bihar. Jarkhand. West Bengal. Kolkata. Chennai. Bangalore. Coonoor. Goa. Ahmedabad. Rajhastan. Mumbai. But after 2 months, I feel I am in no place to tell you about my understandings of India. It is a culture rooted in thousands of years of history, and I merely played the part— skimmed the surface. However, I think I learned a little about human nature in which I can share with you. I met people along the way that certainly challenged my view of life and the world, and I think could challenge yours. I learned if you go searching life for the negative things, you will find it. If you go searching life for the positive things, you will find it. I think one will leave you much more satisfied. And along the journey, have peace of mind! In Delhi, at the beginning of our trip, a man asked us, “what will you do with your film?”. I told him my thoughts of giving back to the people we meet along our journey in India. He answered, “but how does a river flow down a mountain? Does it give water back upstream?”. The journey has taught me a valuable lesson: pay it forward.   4 
    • I do not think we need to travel the world to make great discoveries. However, there comes a time when we need to challenge the context of the world we perceive around us. For me, going to India changed the context of my world. Made me uncomfortable. I was able to recognize things in people that I have let go unnoticed in much of my life. I had the immense pleasure to grow close with two friends, Colin and Kumar. We learned much about ourselves through our interactions with one another. At the end of the trip, I asked Kumar, “Are you proud of what we were able to accomplish?”. He replied, “I do not think “proud” is the right word. More appropriately, I feel overwhelmed with a gratefulness to have had this opportunity.” I could not have said it any better. -Alex September 3rd, 2010   5 
    • This first story is about stars, and how dreams are realized. Change the context of your world, Change your content with the world. Then you can change the world. -Professor Anil Gupta, August 25th, 2:00 PM, Ahmadabad, Gujarat. At the beginning of our trip, we spent time with a young man in Delhi named Rikin Gandhi. He is a brilliant computer scientist that has turned his focus away from the computer screen and onto the fields of India. He started an organization called Digital Green. They provide the tools to farmers to generate media. It allows them to create a forum to share ideas and accelerate innovation in their communities. Put simply, it is American Idol for Indian farmers. Nearly 40% of India is media dark, and 60% of the population is dependent on agriculture. This fills quite a gap. In the middle of our conversation, Rikin told us that he used to want to be an astronaut. “I loved reading the first hand accounts of people that have been to space. You won’t find a single person that wasn’t profoundly affected by the experience. They see earth, floating   6 
    • there. No strings attached. Just floating! The beauty of our home. The fragility of our existence. They see humanity. And when they return, they find a way to connect to the very roots of it. Some become teachers. Farmers. Although I’m no longer working to be an astronaut, that idea still drives me everyday in my work here.” The words Rikin said stuck in my head. Two weeks after Delhi, we ended up at a home for polio kids in Bihar. There were nearly 300 children sitting on the floor the evening we arrived, waiting patiently. My own personal hero is Joseph Kittinger. I decided to tell Joseph’s life story (translated by a friend, with my own twist!). I told them a story about a boy who grew up on a farm. He dreamed of going to outerspace. Man started war. The boy joined the air force. His plane was shot down. He was hurt, but it didn’t stop his dream. He had his first taste of flying! He took up a hot air balloon, and went around the earth. Near the end, his balloon crashed in the desert. He was hurt, but it didn’t stop him. He had just seen the world around from up there. But still, he was unsatisfied. He had always dreamed of space. And one day, he climbed into his balloon, and went straight up. Up, and up, and up! When he reached space, it was the most beautiful site he had ever beheld. He jumped. He floated down for 13 minutes and 45 seconds. And when he came back down to earth, he had finally seen it for its true beauty. He returned back to his father’s farm. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrBZeWjGjl8   7 
    • “Hey guys, we should meet the first Indian that went to outerspace”. “Has an Indian ever been space?” “No clue. Google it.” Indeed, India has had one astronaut go to space. His name is Rakesh Sharma. He lives in a remote town in Tamil Nadu called Coonoor. He stepped out of the public light long ago. We reached out to a friend in Chennai in the morning, asking him to connect us with Rakesh. By evening, we had his number. He said he was apprehensive to do interviews, but would make an exception because his son is a filmmaker. A couple of days later, we were driving seven hours south of Bangalore into the most beautiful place I have ever seen on planet earth. The rolling mountains of Tamil Nadu. Tea country. Green steps climbing up into a beautiful, sunny, blue sky. Windows rolled down. We reached his home by late afternoon. He lives on top of a mountain with his wife and mother (seemingly the only place suitable for someone who has been to space). It is a place where you feel the world stop. He is soft spoken and kind, and an incredibly thoughtful man. His home was built from the mud in those very hills, runs on solar power, and harvests rainwater. We sat for the next three hours in his office and listened to him tell his journey, what it was like in those moments in space, what it felt like to look down at earth for the first time, and how it had changed him.   Near the end of our trip, we met a young man named Taaget. He lives in Ahmadabad and is 26-years-old. He failed 12th standard when he was 18-years-old, and dropped out there after. He has dedicated his life to teaching children about astronomy. His home is filled with books about astronomy and odd space collectables. He built a telescope and brings it to poor and impoverished areas around the city. He often works in the slums, and recently traveled to the war-torn parts of Kashmir to speak in front of the children (they stopped him at the border because his telescope looked like a rocket launcher). He said, “when we look up at the stars, we all see the same thing. We are all apart of the same home. It   8 
    • doesn’t matter our country origin, our religion, nor our caste. It holds the same beauty for all of us.” We visited the home of the great Mahatma Ghandi. Albert Einstein once said of this man: “Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” We felt an amazing peacefulness and energy in that place. On one side of the ashram was a small home, essentially a gated courtyard. Today, 150 children live there. They all come from the Untouchables, the lowest caste in Indian society. Their parents are sweepers, sanitation workers. On Kumar’s last night in India, we arranged to have Taaget bring his telescope to the home that evening for the kids to view. We found a classical music school called Saptak and asked them if they would be interested in performing at the Ghandi Ashram that evening for 150 children. They obliged. It turned out to be one of the most magical nights of my entire life. I have provided an MP3 of the song that was performed (located in the original Kickstarter message). The song was written by the founder of Saptak. I looked across at the children. All their attention focused on the performers. I saw children pretending to play sitar. I felt so full of life at that moment! The man that has run the Ghandi home for more than 15 years came up to me during the performance....tears in his eyes, but a big smile on his face. "I'm so sorry, but I have to go. My grandmother has just passed on. Thank you for tonight." After the performance, the children lined up to look through the telescope. They had never seen one in their life. The sky was cloudy (it is to be expected during monsoon season), but the moon made an appearance every so often. The children were told that if they prayed, the moon would come out--but if one of them opened their eyes, then it would vanish behind the clouds. It was quite beautiful. It didn’t matter to these kids if this was fact or not. It was true to them because they chose to believe it. The headmistress began yelling at the children to go to sleep, but they demanded they stay up until every child had seen the moon through the telescope. I later asked a professor named Anil Gupta, what changed about the world when man went into outerspace? He answered, “it changed everything. It changes the context of our world. The possibilities of what we can accomplish turn to infinity. No longer are we held down by the possibilities of this place.” He paused for a moment. “I think about the boy with the telescope. He cannot take the children to the stars, so instead he brings the stars to them. How lovely!”   9 
    •   10 
    •   11 
    •   12 
    • Babar Ali. (his school) Babar Ali is 17-years-old. He is the world’s youngest headmaster. He started his school when he was 9-years-old, and it has now grown to 955 students. He recently turned down an offer from Oxford University. Instead, he attends Behrampur University, 15 minutes from his home, so he can continue to grow his vision. He has the characteristics of an aloof genius. He paints pictures with his hands in conversation. A drawing in the air of the reach his school will have someday. “I will see every child in India receive an education!” He raises his voice when he speaks aspirationally. He speaks often of his biggest inspiration, the greatest of Indian educators, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). He recited some of his poems in Bengali. Tagore himself started a great University. Babar paces around and often avoids eye contact. A wirey young boy. His father says he does not swim anymore, although Babar claims he still does. He has a habit of twisting the skin in the middle of his right cheek. I climbed up in a tree with him and picked Goa fruit from his courtyard, and his sisters washed them for us. His students learn under the sky in the same space. His great uncle came over and climbed 60 feet into a coconut tree. We broke them open and sat around sharing the fruit.   13 
    • Babar introduced us to the “The Honorable D.K. Ghosh”, a man that he calls his “supreme counsel”. D.K. Ghosh is a fat man that broke his leg dancing recently. “And now, the Honorable D.K. Ghosh will sing a song for you.” Babar said this with a smile on his face--he always tries to hold back his smiles, which curl up the corners of his mouth. I looked over at him, and I saw he was covering his mouth in an attempt to hold back a laugh. His eyes darted at me, as if to give a hint at the joke. The Honorable D.K. Ghosh was a terrible, terrible singer. We decided to give Babar forty notebooks to use in his school in whatever manner he chose. When we gave them to him, he took the notebooks out of the bag and began inspecting them. I left the courtyard for a moment, and when I came back, I saw that he was still looking over them, flipping through the pages, feeling the texture of the covers. When Babar speaks about those educated, and those that are not, he speaks in terms of the light and the darkness. Babar happens to have the only light in his entire village, two solar powered flashlights donated to his family. There was a night driving back from Babar’s school. Babar’s father was smoking cigarettes profusely, exaggerating the sounds of his inhale and exhales. He speaks in broken English. He leaned towards me, the lights from passing cement trucks hitting his face. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where words come out from the depths of truth.” A quote from Tagore. No matter how gifted a child is, the genius will never be realized if the environment is not there to nuture it. His father was the first person to encourage Babar with his school. A woman named Tulu in the village believed that girls need education, and has played a vital role in convincing families to allow their daughters to attend. One of Babar’s former female students is now his most valuable teacher. Everyday, she works from sunrise into the afternoon as a house servant, and then walks to Babar’s school to teach. An amazing moment happened where this girl drew bindi’s on the children’s faces with chalk. A new symbol of pride. Below is a collection of Polaroids, entitled “Family”.   14 
    •   15 
    •   16 
    • The Rotas Hills. Bihar happens to be the stronghold of the Maoist rebels, the Naxalites. We had our first interaction with them before we even crossed the border. They shut down the border as we were attempting to cross into the state. We waited for two hours and played chess. Then out of nowhere….“quick! The border is open!” For a week we stayed in a residence that was 10 kilometers from a place called the Rotas Hill. This is the Naxal stronghold in Bihar, and consists of about 400 villages. It is literally on a hill, and there are only two entry points (each one heavily guarded and monitored by the Naxals). Not the paradigm place we would want to go when capturing stories about positivity. But what makes a story all the more inspiring is when it is done against great odds. We heard an incredibly inspiring story from a young girl in Rotas Hill who was the first woman in recent history to successfully standup against her arranged child marriage (a tradition still practiced and accepted in the region). An untold civil rights leader. There were many of these stories of immense courage that we found there. There are only two organizations that work in Rotas Hill: the Naxals, and another organization called GEMS. This organization worked to build a Hindi-medium school in the area. Over the past three years, they have built trust with the local people and volunteers travel daily to the school. Despite these efforts, it was only several months ago that the Naxals blew up the school at night. However, relations have improved since then. GEMS supported us to go there and offered to guide us…under one condition: that only Kumar go. Because of the anti-Western sentiment in the area, they said taking any recognizable non-Indians could put lives at risk, and set back the progress back they say their organization has made. Kumar ended up making the journey. The day he went, hostages were being released. A story I will leave for him to tell. During this time, we met with girls that had escaped from child prostitution. This was the most emotional part of our entire journey, and the only part of the trip I regret. Some of these girls had escaped their situation only weeks earlier. We interviewed them to get them to speak about their past. However, this sometimes does more damage than good. A child is not always ready to speak about a traumatizing experience. A time I will certainly never forget.   17 
    • the girl boxers of Chalkari. We were the first Westerners in recent memory to enter this remote village in the mountains of Jarkhand. We were told that a boxing ring had been set up in this village about a year ago. We expected to find built young men with boxing gloves. What we found instead were young girls. Women empowerment is not the intent of the organization. The intent is to train the girls to become boxers in the hope that they can compete in local competitions. However, something else happens along the way. It gives the girls something that can be rare to find in this society: individuality. Education, healthcare, power, and women’s empowerment are all central pillars to rural development. However, hope is a good place to start. Boxing plants the idea that perhaps they can do more with their life than simply marry and have children.   18 
    • the reporters of Patna. Choti Choti Bate is a human rights journalism group in Patna run completely by children. They have a newspaper and a radio program that has nearly half a million listeners. The children are the reporters, which allows stories to be reported on that otherwise would never have been told. A 13-year-old girl told a story she reported on about a hotel that depended on child labor to run their operations. They treated the children unfairly and payed them menial wages. The children organized and went on strike against the hotel. They ultimately had their conditions and wages improved. A 10-year-old girl told a story about how her principal at the government school she attends was charging 30 rupees per student for tuition. The law states that in her district, the schools can charge no more than 20 rupees. She filed a complaint with a local government official, and the principal ultimately dropped the fee down to 20 rupees. We asked them, “Are you ever in fear?” They all chimed in unison, “Nahi!”   19 
    •   20 
    • What is society?   Gyanesh started Husk Power Systems, a company that recycles discarded rice husks to generate power. They have provided power to over 60,000 rural villagers. He grew up in Bihar, one of the most backward states of India. He left for America as soon as he had the chance. Gyanesh said he spent much of his life running away from his past, but ultimatey knew he had to return to his roots. Sitting and speaking with him, I knew I was in the presence of a true visionary. I asked him, what does it mean to transform society? He said in reply, “what is society? Is society your family? Is it your community? Is it the world? Society is what you make it out to be. I have chosen society to be the world, and I have dedicated my life to changing it. But although my view may be different than yours, it does not make your view of society incorrect.   21 
    • the school run by children. We spent time at an organization called Manzil. It means “destination” in Hindi. A school in which the children are the teachers. They shape their own education. The kids make their own classes, and the other children sign up for them. There are computer classes, dance classes, English classes, music classes to name a few. It costs nothing for the students to attend. However, if a student arrives late for class, they have to pay a fee. Ravi Gulati runs Manzil out of his home. There is no part of his home in which children can’t come off the streets and change to their liking. We spent a week with them. There was a girl who spent three years in a bed after having typhoid fever. She lost hearing in one of her ears. Dancing makes her feel more alive than anything else in the world. She will be a great dancer. A boy told us a story about how he became lost climbing in the Himalayas at night with two friends. The only thing that saved them was their ability to follow the lights of a small town back to safety. We have the power to choose the way we want to live our lives. We met a 17-year-old boy in Delhi, living in a shelter home for former slum kids. His name is Pradeep. An amazing human being. We sat on a roof top and listened to his story. He grew up in a two story home in Delhi. His father was a successful businessman. However, he made some poor choices and lost his business, and ultimately his home. Pradeep and his family ended up in the street. His father couldn’t care for them properly, and sent Pradeep and his brother to Bihar to live with their grandparents. Pradeep’s brother worked in the fields, but Pradeep was young and did not have the stamina to labor. His grandparents beat him. Pradeep and his brother ran away back to Delhi. When they arrived, the found their father had died. They lived in the streets for over a year. It was at this time Pradeep and his brother choose two different paths. Pradeep choose to join the shelter home, and his brother joined a gang. Several months ago, his brother was murdered. It was at this time that Pradeep began preparing for his entrance exam for Hotel Management. He says he thinks about his brother everyday. His dream is to start his own hotel, and buy back the home he grew up in.   22 
    • Sometimes we go searching for cathedrals, but do not find what we are looking for. Instead, we find something much closer to ourselves. A home. This is taken word for word from my notebook. Kolkata. Roof top. Sometime in late July. Sitting on the rooftop of the Sunflower Guest House. Nighttime. Colin and Kumar are sleeping. From here, I can see across the entire city. The glowing hubs of activity. The darks spots of the slums. Up there on the roof, I am the master of the city. I am the humble servant of the city. I look up. The stars scattered across like broken glass in the night sky. I notice a cable above me for the first time. The outlines of shirts on a clothesline. Down in the street below, tired workers sleeping on truck beds. Hauling stones all day. A man on a cellphone walking by. A rickshaw whizzing, zipping through the narrow passage. A guard outside sleeping in his chair. And I look across, and there is an infinite expanse of buildings. From here, it might as well go on forever. I pick a spot out there. I step up to the edge of the building, and leap. And then the world really starts moving! The sleeping outlines of apartments become my playground. I land on a roof below and tumble into a roll. I keep the momentum moving. Next roof. I’m so quiet. I am no superhero, but at that moment…I could do anything. And so, I picked a spot out there. A cathedral steeple in the far distance. 1 A.M. Kolkata. Sunflower Guest House Rooftop. I walked down into the street below. Nothing is there. Well, everything is there that was in the day, but sleeping. An occasional rickshaw. Besides that, only the dogs. They are nocturnal in this city. In the cool night, no one bothers them. They were in and out from under the resting trucks. And I am here sitting in the street with the dogs. A cathedral on my mind. I walk up to a rickshaw puller. He is sleeping under his rickshaw. A gaunt man with white hair. Looks 65, probably 40. There is no one else around. I stand over him for a moment, and then decide to wake him up. I ask for directions. He looks at me confused and perturbed, unable to understand my English. I walk away. 20 meters back, the rickshaw puller is still standing there. A gaze fixed on me below a street lamp, the blinking red lights flashing across his taut skin. I walk back and offer him 20 rupees for disturbing his sleep. I hail a taxi. The cathedral sir. CA. THEE. DROLL. I sketch an outline of a steeple. He stares blankly back at me. 100 rupees. I get in.   23 
    • 1:22 AM. Streets of Kolkata. We drive through unlit streets. Left turn. Right turn. Left turn. Left turn. I’m sitting in the backseat. On the left side. With the window down. I show off my extensive catalogue of Hindi vocabulary. Mera nam Alex hai. Me America se hu. I am bis years old. –this is about it- We drive for another 10 minutes. He asks me for directions intermittently. I fail to be of any help. It my first night in the city of Kolkata (give me a few days to figure out these streets!). He is lost and I am lost. We arrive to an open street. 2 lanes in one direction. Non-descript buildings. Looks like every other street I had seen in India. He slows down the car and points to a building. “Mother Theresa’s home”. I tell him to stop the car. I exit. The building is a big grey box. Nothing to it. No fan-faire. No large, epic portrait of Mother Theresa. Bars over the tiny windows. On the side a tiny, worn plaque…”Mother Theresa’s Home.” I stay for a time and sit and reflect in front of it. Sometimes miraculous things happen in the most ordinary of places. 1:40 AM. Kolkata Streets. We continue driving. After stopping and consulting with a police officer for directions, the driver now understands I am trying to get to the cathedral. We drive in silence across the city. We arrive in front of the cathedral. There is a long driveway leading to its doors. But trees blocked my view, and I was unable to behold its grandeur. A guard approaches the iron clad gate. I ask him if I can enter. He me a flat no. “We open at 9 AM”. He walks away back to his stoop. The driver is leaning against the hood of his car. I join him. I imagine his curiosity of what the hell I am doing. I tell him to keep driving. Take me somewhere. 2 AM. Kolkata streets leading back home. It was getting early. The driver turned back to the guest house. An additional 250 rupees. Sometimes we go searching for cathedrals, but do not find what we are looking for. Instead, we find something much closer to ourselves. A home.   24 
    • Jugaadoo: A working title for our film. Jugaad- A Hindi word introduced to us by a young girl in Delhi named Shalu. There is no direct Hindi to English translation. It essentially means to take advantage of one’s immediate environment in order to find a solution--innovation that comes out of a scarcity of resources. “The villager was tired of sitting on dirt. She reached up and took a large leaf off a tree, and smiled a big wide smile as she sat on her new mat.” “Why did washing machines sell so well when they were first came to market in Punjab? They were used to make lassi (essentially Indian milkshakes).” We saw Jugaad implemented by nearly everyone we met. They found shortcuts around their circumstances to find a solution to their problem that may not have been obvious. What the film will look like: "Oftentimes, really powerful ideas are presented in very clinical language. But people connect with emotional storytelling, and these ideas need to be humanized so they can reach the most people possible."- Jesse Dylan, filmmaker. Upon completion, the film will be placed online for free viewing. We have about 90 hours of footage. To organize this into a 1.5 hour film will take us a little bit of time. We are aiming for a release date of April 2011. This will be around the same time the soundtrack will be complete. We appreciate your patience in this process.  Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of One Laptop Per Child, once said in regards to his mission: “this is not a laptop project. This is an education project.” I take inspiration from this line. I believe that this is not a film project. This is an education project. Education should start a conversation in which everyone is a participant. I believe this is where the most valuable learning is rooted. We hope to be able to build a conversation around the film in which everyone has an opportunity to contribute. The vision of the final product is a multi-dimensional, interactive piece. Imagine the film as a river network. You have the main river flow (the film). However, there are branches that go off. Perhaps there are 6 minutes in the film on Manzil, the alternative education school in Delhi. If I am particularly interested in this part of the film, I can go off the main stream and into this branch. I can learn more about Manzil. Watch additional footage. See photographs. I can stay in this pond for a while and fish for ideas.   25 
    • I may take fish from this pond, and I may leave my own. Perhaps contribute content about other schools around the world that take a similar approach to Manzil. Or begin a discussion thread about why I may disagree with their approach. How far the river flows depends on how far people are willing to travel. I have yet to see a documentary that does anything like this, and we are very excited to explore this option. “The Journey Makes Life Worth Living (our last moments in India…for now!)” It poured down rain on our last day in India. We went down to the water in Mumbai, in front of the gateway of India. Colin took a piece of cardboard and wrote “THE JOURNEY MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING (our last moments in India….for now!). We were nearly the only people without umbrellas, soaking up the rain. We took a photograph with the sign. I left it on the ground, with my shoes next to it. I had worn them the entire trip through India, and they were nearly falling apart. Later that night, just before the taxi was coming to take us to the airport, Colin and I went down to the water again to see if anyone had messed with our sign. When we arrived, it was still resting there. Except my shoes were gone. Someone had taken them, but left their own.   26 
    • “One last thought….for now!” To live a life for our world is to live a life in which you give your existence to see that the world you leave is better than the world you came into. This why we are here. This is why we exist. I wrote this sitting with Colin and Kumar on a rooftop in Bangalore. I believed it then, and I believe it now. There are moments of doubt along any journey. But there are profound moments that reassures us of our own potential, of our traveling companions, of our mission, and of greater humanity. Moments where I find myself sitting underneath the stars, caught between the leaves of coconut trees. "Was that a shooting a star?" West Bengal. Babar Ali sitting next to me. The world’s youngest headmaster. His brother holding the only flashlight in the entire village on him. Babar explaining to me why he turned down an offer to attend Oxford University. Telling me a story of the poet that inspires him. What his favorite fruit is. And I keep asking myself, how in the hell did we get here? Am I dreaming? And then I remember. Ah yes, that’s right. You are why.  We can’t thank you enough. -Alex   27