At the Greater Impact Foundation a key responsibility is ground level due diligence. It is the best way, either to confirm, or not, the suitability of an organization for a GIF Grant. So, recently I spent some time abroad doing just that. While away, among many of the fascinating people I met was Satyan, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Drishtee Sustainable Communities. www.drishtee.com We had spoken a number of times beforehand, and I was familiar with his background, but we had never met.
What is a great way to get to know someone? The reality that Satyan and I, having only met hours earlier, got on an aging Indian overnight train, stayed and slept together in a two birth private car is pretty unique. From the time we got on the train, until we disembarked the next morning, I left the room a few times only, once to briefly explore, the others to use the toilet. Not my favorite thing to do in potentially questionable circumstances. Otherwise, I stayed put and let Satyan take the lead. We had a great time; met a few interesting people, talked at length on many subjects, not just work, and actually did in one night what usually takes much, much more time. We got to know each other.
The experience proved valuable in two incredibly useful ways. Being in such close quarters necessitates some level of intimacy. As such, Satyan and I got to know each other well in an incredibly short time. Equally, though I did not know it until the next morning, I slept like a baby rocking to sleep on the old rickety train. Fifty hours earlier I was in Tanzania where this latest and most convoluted leg of this journey to India and Nepal began and I was tired. Slightly more amusing was that Satyan had to use his GPS to confirm if the stop we were supposed to disembark from that following morning was coming up or not. No, conductor announcing stops. There are few or no signs or directions to guide one. Besides they are in Hindu. You are on your own unless you have made a friend on the overnight train to Bhagalpur. Welcome to India.