Here I am, back at Heathrow’s T5 again. And again, here I am, bumming off British Airways Lounge’s free wi-fi. This is the sixth time in the past couple months that I have been a guest of this terminal so the question begs, why am I here yet again?
The answer is my sister. I am in quite a unique position for an innovator; due to my sister’s wedding in Los Angeles this past weekend, I was afforded the opportunity to travel home and take a short break from our project in Hubli. I left Hubli this past Thursday and am expected to return to Hubli tomorrow (Tuesday). Of course, special thanks must go to my teammates, the Deshpande Foundation, and the Stevens Institute for their understanding and freeing me to attend without guilt of abandonment.
So, what to expect before I returned home for a weekend trip? Would I be thrown into confusion when I wasn’t stared at, asked for an autograph, or requested to be in a picture? Would I buckle under culture shock? Would I be unable to breathe due to the sudden personal space afforded to me? I admit, the anticipation of a warm shower for the first time in almost two months and a mouth watering In-n-out burger was palpable.
I must say, the return home was not as earth shattering and life altering as I expected. Maybe it was because I was involved with wedding related matters from the minute I landed to the minute I left. This may have helped cushion the culture shock blow. Or, perhaps it was my mindset, fully aware that this was a short trip and that I was not really “home;” cognizant that I would be returning to Hubli in a couple days. Regardless of the reason, my time in L.A. was busily spent celebrating my sister and brother-in-law’s marriage with friends and family (old and new). Questions were asked about my summer in India but most were superficial questions as there was little time to go in depth about my experience thus far. I welcomed this, however, as I was already exhausted from the trip and my ability to adequately and intelligently remark on my India experience would have required more mental capacity than I was capable of at the time. Perhaps most importantly, I believe there is still a lot of unfinished business left with our SendHealth project and thus, my mindset was still in India and Hubli mode.
However, having spent a few days away from the intricacies of the project has allowed me the opportunity to step back and look at the big picture. I was getting obsessed with accomplishing our goals with so little time left in Hubli. To me, there was success or failure and nothing in between. However, even the short break at home clarified that this project is not about winning or losing but is about enabling our NGO partner, KHPT
, to further reach and improve the lives of its core “customer.” Let me be clear: SendHealth still has its goals it wishes to accomplish before leaving India. Yet, we should not be dismayed about our 8 weeks in Hubli being all for naught; we worked long hours, built many bridges, and established a strong foundation and tools for which KHPT to work with once we leave. Regardless of what occurs the next couple weeks, all of the Innovator teams can leave knowing our work will lead to actions that will have a profound effect on lives in Hubli/Dharwad.
I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate my sister’s wedding. I am further grateful that I can return to Hubli to finish up our project in the remaining two weeks left. I suspect that once I fly back to L.A. “for good,” that the true nature and perspective of my time in India will hit me.
Two weeks left. I guess time does fly.