Permission for cleaning a park! I had no clue. I hadn’t done this before. I was given the idea to call BBMP office to know the procedure. So I tried the method and finally reached the BBMP Commissioner’s office to submit the permission letter. I realized how crowded the commissioner’s office could get. Many were in queue. I didn’t get a chance to meet him. Leaving the letter for review in the commissioner’s office, my next stop was to visit the park authorities.
While visiting the park authorities, the process began again of taking a printed letter to meet the concerned official. I was first given the contact of an official who then directed to another higher official. The permission was sought but took me four trips to the office. This was my interaction with the world of government authorities – the world of printed letter permissions, of long waits as the official get into urgent meetings, where face-to-face communication overrules emails/phone calls.
For designing activities I had to meet one of the team of a well-known NGO – Janaagraha who are into citizen activism. Here the people are more than happy to spend time to explain you about their work. To fix a meeting a phone call or an email becomes sufficient. They speak with so much passion for their work that it gets contagious and infects one easily. In fact during my meeting at Janaagraha I was inspired to sign up on their online community – I change my city. This is an online community similar to Facebook where residents in Bangalore can complain about a civic issue. The more the number of votes the issue gets it increases the possibility of attracting the attention of the civic authorities. Interacting with an NGO is like interacting with another world. They would want to reach out to people and get them involved in their cause.
This whole exercise happened to set the ball rolling for organizing a corporate volunteering event. So here came the part of interacting with the world of corporate. I had limited interaction with the company that signed up for the volunteering program except for one final meeting to discuss the agenda for the D-Day. This was a world for me of high-tech communication – of conference calls, of replies within one hour through emails. Where meetings are fixed only to fully attend them and a call at 1 pm is a call at 1 pm and not an hour later.
Interacting with the government, NGO and the corporate made me don different hats during a similar time period. If at one situation I had to be very patient (this was definitely when I waited for a while in the government offices) then in another I had to be on the run with quick replies/alternatives. Be it the government, the NGO and the corporate, they have their own separate communication styles which required me to understand and conduct myself accordingly. Personally it was a great learning and for a next project I know which doors to knock and most importantly how to knock – does one tap on the door do the trick or many taps for someone inside to at least know you are there outside waiting with a printed permission letter !