I came to know about Nirmal through a feature article done by a news magazine on ‘do gooders’. It profiled young persons who were contributing to society and trying to change it for the better. Nirmal, 27 years, was a social entrepreneur working towards promoting environmental education, life skills and active citizenship in civil society, state, media and corporates. The first sight of him in person had me baffled because he looked different from his photograph in the featured article. While in person, he looked chic and urbane; in the photograph against the background of the river, his social cause, he appeared a simple countryman. Our 10 meetings spanning over a period of 1 and 1/2 years generated almost 12 hours of interview material. Sitting on the floor of his office terrace or room, we would begin the task of ‘doing’ interview. The interactions remained quite formal with the time being called up by him at the end of an hour or so. In the midst of cigarette smoke, often out of contact eyes and structured time frame, we both struggled to achieve that mutual recognition in which both of us could come to identify each other. Being the early days of my research and given my own inexperience, probably, I also could not provide the continuity of warmth and stimulation he required for his soul searching. With him, I often felt confused and frustrated. Often, the meetings would leave me with a sense of ‘him not being there’ and ‘not quite getting’ a feel of his deeper self. During the interactions, while I would sit facing him, he would sit in a position so that his office/desk was in his sight. He could just get up from his work and begin his interactions with me and then after an appointed time would revert back to his work. Gradually, I realised that my needs were to see continuities in his life, sustained directions and ideological anchors of his identity. Probably, these were not the realities of his life. As I began to become more mindful of these emotions within me, I was able to more clearly understand the inward splits and outward disjunctures in his life. Through repeated interactions, readings and thinking about his life, I was able to reach some semblance of substratum of his life. The research work with him spanned over a year and a half during which we remained resolutely on the track of creating meanings, through what he called his ‘analysis’ sessions, of and for a life which began its journey from a city in Bihar. A district headquarter, the city was of historical and mythical importance. It had been an influential centre of trade and commerce and finds mention in the ancient Hindu texts of Ramayana, Mahabharat and Vedas. Nirmal’s narrated his story like this:


Life Skill Social Entrepreneur Young Brother Active Citizenship Musical Performance 
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Copyright information

© Springer India 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PsychologyLady Shri Ram College for WomenNew DelhiIndia

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