The Return

As we fell into place with the routine of everyday life. As we fell into place with the routine of the train. As we fell into place with the people, we have changed. Design is no longer an intimate process but a collaborative one that u have to keep going back to.

The collaborative journey was a long and hard one, although only two weeks. We accomplished the commencement of an identity that will continue to flourish, Created by a community of unknown and foreign designers.  The people that were met along the way were gracious, giving, happy and loving. I looked forward to the children’s laughter and greetings as we arrived. To hear the words ” I miss you” from Ajay made my last day at Sadhana a joy as he gave us each a parting gift.

The end of the journey was a joyous one as we danced the night away in our colourful saris.  the morning brought goodbyes and hidden emotions as I parted for journey back to Toronto.


India. No words can begin to truly describe the whole spectrum of experience on this trip, so you are ought to travel there and discover it for yourself. A country with rich cultural traditions, historical monuments, warm and friendly people, strong community presence, flaws and contradictions, India has touched my heart; but it had also left me with many questions. What creates this strong community bond? Will it change as the country’s infrastructure changes and becomes more modernized? How can it be cultivated in other parts of the world, including here in Toronto? I think the influence is rooted in childhood and is spread laterally from kids interacting with other people in their environment, but also with the built environment; and most importantly, it is instilled through the parents and the primary caregivers.  Thus, change must come from multiple aspects, which all combine into a network that becomes a force and a driver of progress. India has the potential to have it all.

Over the course of this trip, I was impressed with the warm energy exuding from people anywhere we went, especially children. In comparison, the same is not true for Russia, where people live as humbly, but behave rudely and pessimistically. From the slums to posh neighbourhoods, I’ve felt that people are generally happy. Simple living creates opportunities for meaningful goals and genuine relationships that are not centered around status objects. However, the media is not as conservative. Western tactics are densely present in the media, conditioning people’s thinking and value systems. As well, society is partially transitioning into the modern realm of empowerment, equality and agency for women, while others are still practicing arranged marriages and child marriages, hence the contradiction.

My Indian friend told me that the driving in India is the way the entire country functions. It’s chaotic, there are no rules or rather the rules that do exist are loosely followed. It’s “whoever can get wherever”. India may be lacking proper policies, political stability, safety and good infrastructure, yet people are very entrepreneurial. Wherever some may see lack, they see it as opportunity and seize it. Entire industries are based on that in Dharavi. If the infrastructure for garbage and recycling is not set up, at least people engage in collecting it themselves with an incentive for profit.

Also, I’ve been inspired by the work of local organizations that we have visited, that are created “by the people for the people” so to speak, and make a real difference in their communities. It was invaluable working with Mr. Ali and the boys from KESBO. These boys are bright, self-sufficient, inventive, and they know their priorities. Work done by Sadhana is also commendable and so important. I am proud of the Identity project that Sadhana group has accomplished. It engaged the community while conceiving an original concept with tangible results with logo printing, which has so much potential. For our side, working with KESBO was truly co-designing. I enjoyed engaging with them, and I want to carry co-designing aspect into my practice. It not only captures the needs and perspectives of the users to create a better solution, but also gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility, and allows more growth for the designer. A good design considers the whole system, which it will be a part of, and people make that system.


During this trip I’ve been able to see and experience India in a way I never had before, thanks to an exciting opportunity and experiencing it with a great group of people!

It has been fascinating being in India not as a tourist but as a group trying to be integrated into the experience of living there, and accomplishing a collaborative task – you witness a completely different side then what you would usually see. This integration and collaboration was drew me to the program, a combination of eastern and western experiences, new and old technology and the collaboration of also different disciplines. It has been very valuable to be a part of these crossroads and something I hope to continue to integrate throughout my work.

I’m always amazed at the richness of India: the sights, smells, sounds and the people. The experience of the flow of India is always an adjustment; from the chaos of the street traffic and bargaining to the relax attitude of store hours, the yes-no-maybe-so and the famous estimated 5 minutes. It was hectic trying to run around gathering the tools and resources to complete our intended vision and products, but fascinating to see how things worked – from the streets of stores after stores selling various items from school supplies to printing to kitchenware then to the lumberyards where they stack wood several stories high and cut it with an ancient machine you might see in a museum.

Integrating into daily life was an aspect I didn`t think of prior to coming but one I am grateful for as it made you grounded and created a more complete experience. We were able to get to a point where we recognized and got to know the locals commuters on the train as well as got to know the store owners who playfully banter with you regarding the specific type of paper you’re after to the specific type of mango you’re after. Everyone was extremely patience with us and extremely generous, something I would remember and cherish.

The experience of working with an organization and collaborating with the community was definitely challenging but extremely rewarding. There were struggles with language and cultural nuances as well as working and navigating a very dedicated founder. Yet the rewards and experiences made up for the hard work as it was thrilling seeing it all come together – the founder being happy and the community’s hands literally involved. It was gratifying seeing the excitement of the community as they knew they were part of it, that they own it and it belongs to them, and hopefully it will continue to grow.

Those you travel with actually contribute to a large aspect of the trip. I was lucky enough to be with a fantastic group of people from all different disciplines that all had unique experiences and opinions, and made sure to have many laughs! It was a lot of fun  to be with a group that were so open to new experiences and outgoing, I learned a lot from them and they opened my eyes again to things I had forgotten or began to lose its luster and created new lenses to experience it through.

Met some amazing people in India who made the experience very special – those at ISAC who became quickly part of the family joking and dealing with nutty questions to those in the organizations we met who are doing amazing things and are just amazing overall people. Not to forget the individuals touched by these groups and the children who made everyday a lot of fun and force a smile!


While sitting inside of my Toronto apartment, I was thinking about what makes living in a

building here so different to living in an a building in India. This got me thinking about the difference in the small every day-to-day actions and activities that set the living conditions apart.

I began to dissect every single thing in viewing site inside my apartment beginning with the wooden chair I was sitting on.

I thought back to how little wood was used across India because of the humid and rainy weather they receive. I also thought back to the heat and high temperatures that we all felt while travelling, reflecting on the cool breeze of the air conditioning running through my apartment. One very crucial living condition that we all made adjustments for was honestly the heat and the weather. Placing our bodies in very different environments is one major change already, but to have exposure to high temperatures creates more stress on the body. I thought about how comfortable I felt while sitting in an air-conditioned apartment, but I felt strange at the same time. I could not help but feel as if I was using such an unnecessary machine and resources simply to cool a space. It caused me to immediately turn off the air conditioning and open up some windows. In that moment I also thought about the word itself “air-conditioning”. A machine created to condition our air. It seemed very odd to me that by paying some money, installing a machine, and by pushing a button that I could control my environment.

After some long thought, I was trying to place myself back onto the roads and train in Malavli and I had a memory suddenly rush to my head. I was remembering the experience of watching two gentlemen fall asleep on the fast and bumpy train. I remembered their precise and complementary head movements moving back and forth at a synchronized pace. Their heads were bouncing with the train in harmony as if they became attached or part of the train.It reminded me of how I would always see people in Toronto riding the subway on their commute home and decide to take a short power nap. This again reminded me of the comparisons and similarities of people and transportation and how regardless of the location, people are the same.


Enjoy the Good Side

Coming back and living back in Canada feel so surreal, when it should been the opposite, I feel that I should go back to Malavli because I have to make sure I catch on of those ground crabs, to make sure I did lock the door or even to pick up my lunch from the yellow house. As soon as I walk in my room, I was happy to see all my stuff again but at the same time I realize how useless some of the stuff is. I feel that I discover how the other part of the world is living and coming back to Canada where everything is quite, organized; where I don’t have to turn the heater of the washroom before using it, where I will not get food poison from eating a hot dogs form the street; seems like dream of everything been perfect and no reason to fear anything no reason to feel the excitement of life.

I have been thought that every situation has a good side and a bad side and to learn to live life you will have to be aware of the bad side but enjoy the good side, here in Canada the bad side is so hidden that sometimes it doesn’t affect you directly and then you are living in a “good side” for ever you will start to overlook the meaningful stuff. My point is that you will never learn to appreciate the good side you live in because you don’t have the contrast of the bad side. In India I learn to enjoy my fan in my room, I learn to appreciate the naan I got in the restaurant or the rotti I was giving for lunch, I learn to appreciate the 50 rupees I had because I could buy a littler of Aquafina water and 3 packs of chips.

The first purchase I made back in Canada was new sunglasses, and when I bought them it was different, I knew that for once in my life I have to take care of this glasses I have to not think of an object that I can always buy if I loose them, but as a privilege that I am buying sunglasses to protect my eyes from the sun. yes it may sound absurd to think of a sunglasses this way but that is my point, even the most meaningless stuff have a reason for been there. I hope this way of thinking doesn’t go away with time, because it makes me feel that I am still living in a live where there is a bad and a good side.

the good side the bad side.

Yes – No – Maybe So

Flying half way across the world to India, it was crucial that we must enter this new world with an open mind; as soon as we shut our selves out the experience we all gained would have never existed. Before departure almost everything I heard from people were connotative and in my own mind I was picturing a very large slum essentially: even though I knew there is always a division of class. Nevertheless what I experienced was like nothing I would have imagined or read about.

Behind the scattered garbage and burning heaps, the true beauty of India belongs to its people. Coming from a western vantage, I had come in with some negative interpretations of what to expect but I was blown away when I got experience the real side of India. One of the most interesting things to me was what I called the “Indian Bobble” which consists of a head bobble with out moving the neck and just the head. This reaction is common to all people of India and a response to a question that has to be interpreted by the opposing person; I picked up on it quick and started to do it myself by the end of the first week. The interpretation of this bobble can mean all of the above: yes, no, and maybe. Like I have previously said the people of India all do this, some even did it as a understanding and or acknowledgement to what you’re asking. The mannerism of India really intrigued me and I think are something that lacks in Western Society. Another thing that I learned and would like to impose in to culture is not to say “sorry” as often: as Canadians apologize way too much. This overuse of the word “sorry” means we lose the integrity of when we are actually apologetic. Instead of saying sorry the Indian culture just acknowledges a small bow or signal to show that it was accidental; some even did the head bobble.

All and all there are many things to take away from this trip, but the people and their behaviours towards one another memorized me. I would go as far to say that I am in withdrawal and find it hard to come back to a city of individuals and not community and smiles.


As time passes by, the memory of India is getting blurry, while what I learned will enlighten me and direct my future. As an artist, I often work individually. The Indian program gives me a great chance to work in a team. Although I still prefer to work individually, I appreciate the help and lessons from my team members. I got better understanding about design through the observation, listening when we are working: design is about people, their wishes and trying your best to make their wishes become true. Teamwork is about discussion, argument, negotiation, show understanding, and working out together.

Indian is a country I want to go back to visit again someday. I saw the potential and energy of this unique country: Indians are very open and respect to others. By others, I mean the people from other countries, as well as other species. I believe this will lead them towards a not necessarily economically developed country, but an even better and happier future.



This trip gave me an experience that I could have never imagined.  It exceeded all my expectations and gave me a whole new outlook to the world itself and most importantly a whole new perspective to the different kinds of people that you can encounter with an open mind.  For me India was an eye-opening place to experience that I was missing in my life to further grow as a person and as well grow in my art practice.

Coming back to Toronto I could not stop thinking about the array of different contrasts we have as a Western society compared to India.  The biggest comparison I encountered was the different natures of people that exist in the world.  I am not talking about race but rather depicting the way we present ourselves towards others.  Since coming back from India I could not stop thinking of Toronto as a “grey” and “blue” place while my eyes were still not adjusted from India’s “gold” and “orange” tones.  These colours however can describe the two different places accurately in my eyes.  Toronto being described as grey and blue portrays our sinister and conceded citizens while gold and orange can describe the warm open hearts and bright smiles the citizens of India have.  Of course I cannot draw such drastic conclusions from the kind of people there is however with the factor in mind that even though we were travellers and interesting for them to encounter, they were still sincere when we were greeted warmly.  From observing Indian citizens interactions, it is clear that the people are down to earth and knew what was important in life and was not.  Indians had an outlook in life that put people’s well-being first and materialistic objects second.  I find in our Western culture we lack the integrity to distinguish between what is important and what is not which leads us with an attitude towards life that is not “down to earth” but rather a perception of arrogance.  I found coming back to Toronto I had a difficult time adjusting to the ways we interact with others.  I was still greeting people with smiles or a nod but of course here in Toronto, I would get confused or sinister looks in return.  Our Western society is a place for individualism and lacks the realization that we are all here together in this world.  In India, not once did I not feel at home and it was because of the strong sense of community I felt anywhere in India I visited.  India cherishes the people the citizens are surrounded by and I hope with my experience I can bring that to our society.

I thought I would come back with a new outlook in my practice as becoming a bit of designer but what I learned was even greater than a few techniques to improve my art with the eyes of a designer.  I came back with a feeling of such accomplishment because I realized that the design and art I helped create was not one for myself but for one who needed it more.  As a sculptor, I realized my art I created was just for own self.  After my experience in India, I was never more proud as an artist of the work my group accomplished and I realized it was because for once it was not for my “Westernized conceded self” but rather for someone that needed the beauty of art in their life more than I did.  This was because at the end of the trip I learned to look through the eyes of an Indian citizen with their morals and judgment.  Coming back to Toronto I am excited to start creating art for others to improve their well being than just my own.


After a much needed weeklong nap, I was finally able to reflect on the world-wind of a trip I had just experienced. Returning to Canada was a bittersweet endeavor and I believe each student on the trip left with life changing outlooks on the world. Although in many ways I’m happy to be home, in my privileged environment, I can’t help but feel a little depressed over the course’s completion. For me, the end of the trip marked a pivotal point in the conclusion of my undergraduate, but it also revealed the possibility of design outside of a university setting. Working with new, and different personalities was both a challenge and a rewarding insight. This trip no doubt gave me the new perspective I have been craving the last few years.

Returning home, I was faced by many people with one simple yet loaded question; “How was your trip?” As I settle back into my life, post-India, I met this inquiry with generic answers, like “awesome” or “great”. However, I know the truth to be much more complex then this.  India was incredible, beautiful, ugly, rich, poor, hot, cold, fast, slow, friendly, insightful, frustrating at times and full of surprising contradictions. My feelings for the country are neither love nor hate, nor are they ambivalent. I feel deeply for what I have learned and experienced, and can’t shake the feeling that I will one day return.