I anticipated many emotions during my final week in Bangalore: sadness, relief, uncertainty, and nostalgia. I was not expecting jealousy. It surfaced when I was making plans for a night out with my closest friends. Someone mentioned that a few new interns from work would join us. I sent the following text to my friend: “You guys can make new friends after I go.”

My last day at Janaagraha.

I was bitter that my time here was over, and that I would move on and my friends would move on. The plug was pulled far too quickly on an intense ten months of work, life and relationships. My friendships in Bangalore were 24-7. We worked together, went out together, went home and texted each other until we fell asleep. I was jealous of anyone else who got to pick up the life that I had so meticulously arranged since September. When I returned to work after a week off, I watched my team in meetings, discussing tasks and events that I wouldn’t be a part of, and it stung. There I encountered the biggest lesson of this fellowship: letting go. You can return to a city, you can return to a social circle, but you cannot return to a time and a feeling.

With an incredible group of AIF fellows.

Endpoint in Himachal Pradesh started painfully. I counted every day in Mashobra as one day less spent in Bangalore, where I felt I really belonged. I snapped out of it soon enough, when I realized that all the fellows probably felt similarly about their adopted Indian hometowns. Soon enough, I had completely and unwittingly detached myself from Bangalore and Janaagraha, because I forgot about June 28th. This was the date of our big press conference to release Bangalore’s Ward Quality Score to the public and media.

“Treasure this. You will want to see it when you’re my age.” -Sridar

It was Sridar who brought me the exciting news a day later in Delhi, as he had opened up the Times of India on his flight and spotted on the top right of the very front page, an article featuring WQS. I enviously imagined my team celebrating back in Bangalore, as we had dreamt of doing through every readjusted project deadline. Of course, when I called Arjun, I got to hear about all the last-minute hurries and worries and felt less excluded. It doesn’t happen often, but I was lucky enough to have worked on a project that actually culminated within the 10 months of the fellowship.

It will take some time for me to process this experience, but I am incredibly grateful, humbled, and changed by it. I’ve grown because of the work I did, the people I met, and the city I lived in. Bangalore is more of a home to me now than it ever was when I lived there as a child. I’ve rediscovered it by myself and recognized that it has grown and changed immeasurably, just as I have, in these past 15 years.

Stay with me at Swathi going places.

And check out Bangalore’s Ward Quality Score at I Change My City.

Having spent half her life in India and the other half in the United States, Swathi gained a unique perspective on inequality that sparked her interest in understanding and combating poverty in its various forms. After six years of college at a stretch, Swathi is eager to balance the academic knowledge with practical experience in the field. She is looking forward to the rewards and challenges of rediscovering her drastically transformed hometown of Bangalore. Most recently, Swathi worked at the NGO Entreculturas in Madrid, Spain, to support education programs all over Africa, and to develop a global advocacy network on the right to education. She speaks four languages and is trying to decide on a fifth.

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2 thoughts on “Jealousy

  1. I will definitely check out the ward quality scores – especially as we find housing for new fellows. I’ll try not to suggest living anywhere with a score that is ridiculously good so as not to make you jealous.

    Congratulations on leaving behind a project with some great visibility!

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