(At last, here is the report for Mumbai Communication workshop. Friends, read it twice. It is worth it. Thanks a lot to Jahnavi from all of us! Editor)
Sir tells me "Janahvi ,call up madam and tell her to come at 10 am tomorrow.".I start thinking in my mind its easy I have to just say "Madam, Sir said tomorrow come by 10 am.". I practice it a couple of times, I call and the phone rings, in those three rings my anxiety shoots up, I'm palpitating and finally what I say is "Hello, Madam mhanje sir bolle ki tumhi na(pause) sir bolle ki (pause) d..d...d...d..daha wajta ya udya". Madam asked me with a little frustration that why was I so confused. I said " I STAMMER " rather clearly this time and all she said was "OK".
Nothing new about the incidence the same embarrassment, depression, frustration and self worth hitting a new high low again. But that day something changed, like someone I truly admire says "It is not about time it is about priorities." That very night a get a call from one of the TISA members talking about a weekend workshop and I instantly felt like a kid in a candy shop looking at something he wanted for a long time but just dint realize until he sees it. I bunked my classes and decided to attend the workshop.
The day finally arrives and honestly more than a " cure " all I am expecting is to be in peace with myself. I am late as always I reach the venue still doubtful and confused but when I stutteringly ask the sabzi wala the exact location, I'm reassured that yes I am at the right place. I enter the venue and look at 20 adults playing BUMP( I will explain the game some other time) I instantly like the place. I first thing I become comfortable is with my name "Janahvi". Though I've always liked it a lot I have never been able to openly say it with a group activity of saying our names aloud it felt good to actually hear the name and not be glad about just spitting it out.
After this the journey began and I have had so many moments to cherish it would take me eons to actually put it all down. so I will share with all of you a few of them who top the list. There was this one particular group activity where we had to wander on the posh streets of Bandra purposely stammering our way out to overcome our anxiety and fear of stammering. Did it work you ask? I bet it definitely did! It was the first time in my life when I was not embarrassed of stammering when the co operation and patience of pedestrians meant a lot more and hurt a lot less than the not so funny jokes and the failed attempts to not laugh at our faces by a few people. One phrase said by one of my group member that struck a chord was "HAKLAO MAGAR PYAAR SE". When we know we are ultimately bound to stammer why not do it with ease?
We also had a session on impromptu speeches we were supposed to say the speech using the speech techniques taught to us. The difference in this speech was it did not, by god's grace and TISA's, feel like the end of the world. No sweaty hands no lump in the throat to racing heart beat just a little anxiety. You might say this was because the situation was not dreadful but I believe that at least I have one good memory of giving a speech without feeling miserable. The speech technique I used was bouncing and though it is difficult to implement in the "outside world" but it truly works for me.
Another thing that I will always remember is the importance of eye contact. For years I have been so engrossed shying away from people and hiding my weakness that I never realized what I m missing. A meaning full conversation looking into the eyes of the opposite person knowing what you are saying and being in control is just altogether a different experience. The honest and hopeful smiles I saw in the workshop on the faces of people clearly in a lot of pain and anguish for years, broke my delusion of being the ultimate damsel in distress for good. Nothing changes overnight not even after a fortnight it takes a lot of effort, courage and time to control and change the state of our minds built up over many years.
We also got the golden opportunity of attending the Mumbai Toast Masters meet in Bandra and we had a blast there. We all were welcomed warmly and the room was bustling with confidence and positivity. A number of inspirational speeches and acts, a good piece of humor, a fair chance of participation and a reality check that so called "normal people" not only can have bigger problems and harder life but also nervousness and stage fear. A memorable, inspiration and winning act by our fellow TISA member Dhruv gupta was just the cherry on the cake. His confidence honesty and humility just stole the show.
An extremely experienced person in the field of communication Mr. Lancy also invested his precious time in us. Conducted a group activity with us and also made us reflect on our perceptions and prejudices. A very harsh truth he conveyed through his phrase " Fake people put up an act but real people don't give a crap" will stay with me always.
I have missed many things the various useful speech techniques taught, a couple of emotional speeches , the candies restaurant, activities and fun on the carter road and yes the banana dance. Apart from the fun part we learnt many useful techniques and practiced them with fellow stammerers and also unsuspecting strangers. We learnt coastal breathing, bouncing and prolongation along with the knowledge on how to tackle pre block, in block and post bloc situations. Our organizers also tried to cater to all our queries with god given patience.
This was my first experience with TISA and it couldn't get any better. In accordance with the TISA belief that accept your stammer I am trying to come in terms with that. My math's teacher always used to say this funny line " Don't stare at the problem, it will stare back at you" it is today that I really think I have understood it. I alone can do something about my problem and even if I can't it is only up to me how to deal with it. I have already lived twenty years of my life happier than a number of people I know it is now that I realized that I'm truly blessed
I am sorry if I have used a lot of quotes said by our organizers and other members but that is just because you all have truly and deeply inspired and influenced me in more ways than one. I look forward to many more workshops like these. I truly appreciate the efforts put in and the selfless work done by our organizers. like one of them said they don't expect a thank you I won't end on a Thank You instead I promise to make the optimum use of the knowledge you imparted to us and the and the two days you invested in us. I HAVE TRULY MISSED ALL OF YOU A LOT. BEST WISHES TO ALL OF YOU.