Posted on August 28, 2016
One Word Project
Yesterday, while visiting Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram, an idea struck me; why not do a short and impromptu survey amongst the visitors there.
The survey had only one question:
What is the first word that comes to your mind when I say "Mahatma Gandhi"?
I went to the museum shop (incidentally some of our Gandhi themed souvenirs sell here) and picked up a notepad and pen. I thought of roping in a few college students but the paucity of time compelled me to go it alone. It felt a little odd first but then I lost all inhibitions and started talking to people around.
The sample group comprised of 31 people. I tried a diverse set comprising tourists(old, young and from across the country), cleaning staff, security guard, school and college students, families, brick layer, gardener, autorickshaw driver, artist, architect, management student, pavement seller, taxi driver and young children. I remember one person couldn’t come up with a word, I think his mind went blank. Another asked his child and the child said accha. Amongst a family of four, everyone tried to give me a different word. A Gujrati lady couldn’t understand Hindi or English so I had to find a translator; I was not going to give up. An old cleaning lady was a personality in herself, she had four gold-capped teeth and her jewellery was awesome. I later went looking for her to click a snap. An old taxi driver was quite vitriolic. A cheeky architectural student with his shades over his nose told me that he was only there because of Charles Correa, I patiently heard him and told him that I only wanted a word from him; he had to oblige. Most of the people reacted with a lot of respect and nostalgia. The autorickshaw driver wasn’t happy because the ashram was under renovation and it looked too modern for him to relate it to Gandhi. The policeman with his moustaches touching the sky was quite polite. The brick layer said he liked the ashram and always asked the contractor to send him there.
The first word that came to my mind was “Humble”