In conversation with Shashi: a co-traveller’s journey so far..
Prayog library had an impact in my mind so much so that despite not so much
interested into studies in my childhood days, I channelized my energy into
reading. I was so inspired by the interactions and activities that I still feel
its impact in my life. I remember talking to Abhishek bhaiya …….”
a few months of start of the Prayog library in 2013, we saw hundreds of
children turning up at our community site. Children would come to read,
interact, participate in activities. There were discussions happening around various
concurrent issues and mostly led by them only. Shashi happens to be one of the
members of Prayog library from the initial days and we are glad to learn about
his whereabouts. Read his interview with Prayog team where he shares about his
childhood memories, his challenges, his reflections around the library and
more. In a series of interviews, we will capture journeys of our other long
Prayog: Hi Shashi! Glad
that you agreed for this interview. Tell us something about your childhood –
where did you grown up, what was your family background like, how was the
socio-cultural background of your village like?
Shashi: I’m glad
too! I don’t have many interesting childhood stories to talk about but it
was fun; I remember playing with my cows, naming them, and lots of game time. I
grew up in my village only. I started schooling when I was 3 years old. My
school was only 50 steps away from my house. When I was born, my father had
lost his job so unlike my elder siblings I did not get the chance to see the
city until I completed my high school.
My father was a college drop-out and mother dropped out
after high school. I belong to a lower middle-class family, my father had a job
in a Pharma company but when I was born he lost his job and started a small
business with all his savings and then opened a grocery store in the local
village market (which still runs till this date).
In my primary school days, I remember one of our teachers
who belonged to Scheduled Caste was not accepted as Headmaster by villagers.
So, you can think how difficult my village. As a child, I was disturbed by all
Prayog: What are you currently
doing? What has been your educational journey like?
Shashi: I’m currently
interning for a healthcare company as an operation analyst. My educational
journey has been a smooth ride so far. From Primary School Khalgaon (Gopalganj)
to Delhi University with only a glitch coming last year when I wasn’t selected
for IIM Calcutta due to lack of work experience reasons but I’m working on that
may be next year I will be up to the mark.
Prayog: Growing up, what
were the challenges that you faced in life, in particular related to your educational
Shashi: One of the biggest challenges I have faced is lack
of guidance. One way to mitigate this is by learning from others’ experience in
turn exposure to different people or things but I didn’t have that throughout
Prayog: When and how did
you get to know about the Prayog library?
Shashi: When I was in Class 9th, initially one
of my friends told me about the library and activities/ events that took place
there. There was a group that used to visit the library regularly
and they always talked about quiz events and I was very fond of quizzes. In our
discussion, they were more expressive, thoughtful and they gave really
interesting analogies. I particularly remember talking to Vikash, when I asked
him what is helping him with his public speaking skills he told me about the
library and how the same peers conversation and books were helping him.
This really motivated to make
my first visit there.
Prayog: What were your
initial thoughts about the library?
Shashi: That was the first
time I was going to see a physically existing library prior to that I had just
heard about it. So initially I couldn’t gather any thoughts and we went to
visit the library.
Prayog: Can you mention any memory of the library
experience that is still close to your heart? What did you like the most in
Shashi: I had many wonderful experiences till I was there on my
first day at the library, when I participated in the first quiz, essay writing,
visit to Jalpaiguri and Bhutan, meet-ups with really interesting
people. When some people who had done really well come to visit us and
share their experiences with us.
Let me be honest, I was never
into reading before visiting the library. It was a good idea to go there, it
taught me what books can do to you. That’s where I picked up reading and I’m
holding on to that till this time.
I remember talking to Abhishek
Bhaiya, the co-founder of Prayog. I being a less confident guy, less expressive
and in academic the mild one but that 20 odd minute conversation with him was
so impactful for me. He got me into Sudoku, his tips were amazing. This was 7-8
years ago and I still remember everything!
Prayog: Can you remember anything that you did not
like or would have thought to be missing in that library?
Shashi: I will pass on this question! (for me what was
present at time was enough)
Prayog: Any thoughts on
whether the library had any influence on other children who were coming with
you? Can you share some examples?
Shashi: I’m very disheartened to inform you that I lost all my
connection when I switched my board after 10th. I did not have a
mobile phone to stay in touch with all of them but those with whom I’m in
contact are doing really well. Once I will rebound with them I will let
Prayog: What are your future plans?
Shashi: I don’t think too far in future but hopefully in
next two year of time I want to meet the work ex requirement to get a seat in
IIM C for PGDM in Data Science. And will plan according to situation after
Prayog: Any suggestion
for the library works to improve, especially for children?
Shashi: More reach to
children, involvement of digital platform would be very nice and
helpful (I forgot to mention this in my educational challenges but it was right
is 21 now. He has Graduated from Delhi University and was the topper of his
batch. He is
a versatile Data Analyst with experience in interpreting and analysing data. He
wants to pursue his dream Course in IIMs of his choice. We wish him all the
best in his journey.
want to know more of Shashi, you can ring/write to him at:
interview was conducted by Surya Prakash from Prayog team. You may write to him
A few pics of Shashi (in red t-shirt) from his library days