September 17, 2016

Know thy Coordinator

Great presenter; Mimicry too!
Harish holds a masters degree in IT, and works as a Module Lead in a leading IT firm in Goa. He has many hobbies: writing, graphic designing, mimicry, singing and a lot more, waiting to be discovered, I guess..

Someday, I am sure, he will start a business, publish a novel, raise a great family… in a nutshell, achieve everything worthwhile under the Goan sun. But life has a price. You have to work and earn every experience, every bit of insight. Harish too has led a life, which cannot be called “easy” by any stretch of imagination.

I got to know Harish in Oct 2009 – over phone calls and through many online chats. Then, we met in Bhubaneshwar during our first NC- 2012, where he charmed everyone with his presentation... and his fine nature. To me, he came across as a very sensitive young man. (May be a little bit too sensitive in an uncaring world? I wonder- but hope not..)
So, how did it all begin?

In 2009, He had seen an interview of JP and Dr Tarun, put up by me on youtube. Initially he was skeptical about acceptance, the core message of TISA. Then, he saw Ritik Roshan’s “Tere Mere Beech” interview. That began to change his ideas. In fact, he wrote a paper about it, for the International Conference on stammering awareness 2011, organized by Judith Kuster (link at the bottom).

He understood the role of self-help groups. He decided to start one. This can be challenging. But he persisted. Soon, a group was gravitating towards him: Santosh, Rahul, Prakash, Dnyanesh.. and many more.

Calm and cool - but alert!
We were chatting online regularly and one day he announced excitedly – It was 2nd Nov 2009: “First Goa SHG meet is finalized today. It's scheduled for 7th November 2009…

Then came second meeting- no one turned up - and Harish was disappointed! Harish was discovering the mysterious nature of stammering and stammerers. People will ask for help – but refuse to take that first step: stepping out of the self-imposed house arrest. It was so confusing. But the journey continued.

The confidence generated by setting up the first SHG in Goa, touched other aspects of his life as well: He began talking about it at home and at work. He challenged himself further by giving stage performances and joining a public speaking club – Toastmasters. Then came the high point in 2012: he interviewed the Vice President (Sales and Marketing) of his own organization on his perspective on Stammering for a Samvad write-up: “Stammer: What does the corporate think?”.

In the meantime, he had begun writing about stammering and other things: stories, poems. Earlier, during post-graduation, he had started to write a diary. Urge to communicate is so strong in us that it WILL manifest one way or the other. He already had a private blog and went around by a screen name, which told me more about himself than his REAL name ever did: Silent Scream. I was quite intrigued. Here is a poem he wrote in the winter of 2010, about a bird in a cage and its resolve to break free someday, as he himself eventually did:

Tough may be these bars,
I can’t sever them apart,
But listen all you fellows,
I don’t loose heart.
Look at me not,
With those usual sorry eyes,
I am one like you,
So very beautiful, so very nice.
Being a bird, I always dream high,
“A day will come, when I will fly, I will fly”
(Winter 2010)

Our non-stop online chats were not one sided: He too was teaching me something through chance comments and by sharing all kinds of issues and perspectives. He introduced me to a great movie: Front of the class, which I later shared in many workshops and which was much appreciated by others.

Then, he wrote on the blog about Swapnil in Jan 2010- the budding cricketer and his stammering. Some of his SHG members reacted badly. We discussed the issue and realized that stammering needs acceptance in public sphere a lot more than treatment in private clinics!

Another milestone was when Harish organized a three-day communication workshop in Goa in April 2011, with help from JP, his colleague and friend in TISA. All these were major challenges for him - not just in terms of organizing them but also accepting the fact that, yes- stammering IS an important issue for him – important enough to take such huge steps in public life.  He was able to get valuable help from Dr Farida, TM, Goa, fortunately. And the workshop went very well.

He has served TISA immensely by taking up the production of quarterly Samwad (pdf) magazine – editing, producing content, lay-outing etc. etc. He has set up very high standards. I sincerely wonder if and when will we find a team to match those standards!

In connection with Samwad, he was getting in touch with Pakistan, Nepal, Australia, BSA etc. to promote it and to get write ups from NRI abroad. Harish was working with Amit Kushwaha for Hindi content; He was dealing with Hindi spellings and its funny trick of going all haywire with slightest change of the script! He has played a very hectic and productive innings with Amit, as the editorial team.

His help to JP and myself, has been immense; responding to emails, phone calls, request for help from pws all over, setting up events, planning NCs, raising funds, dealing with critics and what not; All this- while being one hundred percent faithful to the central spirit of TISA: acceptance and self-help. Team spirit and sensitivity to others’ feelings and needs – will come up easily as the two of his core qualities as a volunteer, consistently since 2009. 

Change begins with self..
He shared with me once- in his own words: “As a child and teenager, I explored all sorts of ‘therapy’ to achieve that magic ‘fluency’! I desperately tried Speech Therapy, Hypnotherapy and all sorts of so called ‘Stammering Cure’ centers. Every time, there was a relapse. And every relapse brought big disappointment, a sense of failure. As I neared graduation, the low esteem was coupled with fear. Will I ever be able to succeed in this competitive world when I fumble in my speech?

I came in contact with TISA when I was at the dawn of my career. When I realized the true meaning of Acceptance (towards stammering), TISA was beginning to look like my ‘home’. Working with TISA taught me the most important thing in life- breaking out of comfort zone. Secondly, I learnt that stammering is a part of me and will remain to be. But it’s not me. Life is much more. I do not have to wait for fluency to achieve my goals. That was the time I began to think about my goals, my ambitions, career, dreams… Now it all seemed possible!

Old Avtaar: Silent scream!
The most important thing that TISA taught me is acceptance. And it has helped me (still helps me) not just in stammering, but in all aspects of life. I realized that acceptance is essential to live a contented life. I had lot of ups and downs in personal life ahead… and the acceptance attitude helped a great deal. I will always be highly indebted to TISA for changing the way I was looking at life. TISA still continues to teach me, and I wish to learn as much I can with TISA and TISA friends.”

TISA cannot claim any credit – but we are sure that there is a POWER that takes note of and rewards sincere and self-less service to others- and no wonder, Harish found a worthy partner in 2015 and got married. Now, we are sure, that TISA has two friends, not just one. We deeply value that.

As you get to know him during this NC-2016, you may browse these links to know more about him:
Goa Workshop:

His first stage show:

A Fiction Story:

ISAD Paper:

We wish TISA all the BEST under Harish’s stewardship, as the national coordinator - and offer him our best support. Let me conclude by paraphrasing Jose Ortega:

"Common men, driven by a dream, can do uncommon things.."


Anonymous said...

Congrats Harish!
Wishing you all the luck and assuring you my full support.
Sky is the limit..
Keep smiling..


I am Santosh said...

Congrats Harish bab!
Its my pleasure to know you personally.


Rajesh, Hyderabad said...

In a line - He is one of the DNA of TISA :) What else we can say about him.
He does great seva to our community. Thanks Bro. Keep it up.


Congrats Harish..I got to know you in 2012 .. you are so multi-talented.. keep up the great work.. we are with you..

anupam saxena said...

You are an inspiration to many Harish

Suraj Kumar said...

Very Very Nice Article. It motivates us by informing us about a great personality. Will try to follow on his foot steps

Hemant Kumar 靈氣 said...

Congrats Harish!
Wishing you good luck.

Virendra said...

Congratulations Harish. I agree on you starting a new business.

Virendra said...

Congratulations Harish. I agree on you starting a new business.