Pallavi's Back At The Lab!
14 June 2019
"A city isn’t so unlike a person. They both have the marks to show they have many stories to tell."
I write this sitting in my favourite green chair at the Culture Lab office as the first rains of the season pound the asphalt outside. A fairly befitting setting as I’m forced, really, to reminisce about my Culture Lab journey so far. All jokes aside though, being here today makes me think of how all the small, perhaps hurried decisions you make every day can lead you down a path towards something truly wondrous.
Responding to the Culture Lab Leadership Programme's 2018 application question - 'what would you like to see in Mumbai's cultural scene?' with an answer outlining my desire to see more of Urdu culture within Mumbai was a lot like the quote above - an intertwining of my personal nostalgia for my home city Delhi, all the Urdu poems and prose that had touched my heart over the years, as well as a desire to see Mumbai be more inclusive and less homogeneous in its cultural articulation.
I remember filling in the application in a hurry since - as always - I had just about enough time to make the deadline, being propelled by the urge to answer the application question. It almost seemed a cathartic exercise of putting to paper an idea inspired in part by my little fitoor for Urdu.
Hence began my journey with the Godrej India Culture Lab's Leadership Programme 2018 which eventually led to six of my co-Leadership fellows and I conceptualising and executing our event, Urdu Culture Now, which took place in June, 2018. Exactly 365 days later I stand applauding the beautifully executed Migration Museum by the second Leadership Programme batch. The only difference is that I've now joined the Lab team full-time. I joined the Lab exactly one week before Migration Museum with almost a year having passed since I was last here.
Sometimes my journey as a Leadership Fellow and now as a Lab member flashes in front of my eyes as a quick cut montage of images and with perhaps a dramatic Tiersen melody as background score . As I make my way in on my first day of work I see the current Leadership ‘kids’ bustling about in Conference Room 6 and I’m transported back to the previous summer where the seven of us had taken over the same room and spent five weeks with our big plans about changing the cultural realm in our small way. One of my first tasks was to help the current fellows with the script for what would unfold onstage on the day of Migration Museum. As the kids practiced onstage and I gave them feedback, I flashed back to the image of standing awkwardly on stage a year ago wondering how I would possibly face so many people and talk to them about our event. I remember being calmed by Dianne and Kevin and I end up offering the same words of comfort to the Fellows- “You’ve worked on this for so long, you love this. You just have to tell the audience why they would too”. And just like this the montage continues, sparking a heady mix of happy, nostalgic images in my head.
In more ways than one, life has come a full circle as I begin phase two of my Culture Lab journey - and I can’t wait for the adventure to unfold!