India Happened: How We’re Learning To Roll With It

Want to know the number one expression on this project? Hands down it has to be “India Happened”. It combines many aspects of travel and business in India that can be hard to put into words.


Bus late, early, or in a totally unexpected place? India happened. Shop offering printing yesterday now only does photocopying the day you need to print flyers? India happened. Rock up an hour late to your own meeting, but you’re still the first one there? You guessed it – India happened. Anyway, you get the idea.


It has taken a while to adjust to a more relaxed way of being. Our group took to the project of starting a PLUS Pod the way we would tackle it in Australia. This meant setting deadlines, making meetings, and running on a rough schedule. But India had other plans.


Setting up an educational facility involves a lot of collaboration with 40K, community leaders, schools, suppliers, parents, and the kids themselves. To ensure the project is actually helping the community rather than treading on toes, it is important to assimilate to the way business is done here. As you can imagine, it is pretty beneficial to do all this collaboration face-to-face. Creating positive working relationships helps an immeasurable amount in projects like the PLUS Pod. Understanding the unique nature and nuances of each community helps tailor the project to fit effectively. If the project doesn’t suit the community, it won’t be sustainable or effective. It is as simple as that. Making those relationships and having those conversations is vitally importance for the creation of any long-lasting change.


India Happened

Seeing the success of PLUS Pods before us has been a useful guide


India Happened

First paint up in the PLUS Pod


READ MORE: 40K Globe x Travel Textbook: Building a PLUS Pod in Rural India


Instinctively, when you first try to tackle challenges, you do it the way you’re used to. We were no different with the PLUS project. If you know me at all, you would know how much I live for efficiency, diaries and deadlines, but soon enough we all learned to embrace the new way – myself included. This meant ditching the watch in favour of time slots like “after lunch”, and swapping strict deadlines for ones that are a little more fluid. Embracing this change was far easier than resisting it.


Even though it feels different, the thing is, the job still all gets done.


Despite the occasional frustrations and learning curves with this relaxed approach, our team has managed to kick some major goals in the past couple of weeks. We have secured a space for the PLUS Pod, held successful community and parent meetings (with the help of some very handy translators), spoke with the relevant stakeholders, and drank way too much chai in between. Just kidding, you can never have too much chai. It seems as though the more we embrace it, the more ground we cover, and the happier all parties are with making a PLUS Pod.


India Happened

The PLUS Pod is beginning to take shape


This shift in mindset has positive effects on a personal level, too. At home it can be quite easy to burn out and stress about things. Our societal fascination with time packs on the pressure and can be quite draining. This experience has been a much-needed lesson in chilling out and enjoying the smaller moments. There has been such a valuable lesson here in focusing less on time and more on the moment.


There were undoubtedly issues with embracing the “India Happened” mentality and letting go of our Australian approach. In time, however, those concerns were ironed out. Now we’re more used to it, have a handle on how things are done and our PLUS Pod project is all the better for it. The community is engaged, the conversations are flowing, and the Pod is no longer a concept but now standing in soon-to-be-painted bricks and mortar.


India happened, is still happening, and will continue to happen for our project, and we are ready to see where it goes from here.


Lucy Owens Travel Textbook


My name’s Lucy and I’m the junior doctor and travel writer behind the blog. If you’re a fan of scratching beneath the surface of travel, visiting interesting destinations, and exploring ethically, then you’re in the right place. Focusing on purposeful budget and solo travel, Travel Textbook hopes to inspire more young people to seek meaningful adventure.


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