A Chance to Reflect

I have come to expect learning self-discovery from each of our Niswarth meetings, and this one was no different. It gave me a chance to reflect on a single story that I had not even recognized that I accepted. Shortly after seeing Chiamanda Adichie’s TED talk on the dangers of a single story, I had resolved to try to eliminate the single stories from my life, but I realized that it is not really that easy after watching Srini’s TED talk and reading an article on Dharavi. During our meeting we discovered that many of the stereo types that we hold to be true come from media that may look to be shedding the subject matter in a positive light. The movie Slumdog Millionaire first seemed to me to be a movie that showed the resilience and resourcefulness of an Indian boy, but I now realize that the setting of the movie was described very much as a single story. It portrayed slums like Dharavi to be areas of lost hope—dead zones where no one can escape except by luck—but I now know that a slum like Dharavi is hope. It offers economic opportunity (not exclusive to crime) and a community of supportive and caring people. I had felt like I already knew that money cannot buy happiness, but I had inadvertently and wrongly assumed that people without money, many possessions, and possibly food could not be happy. It’s interesting to see how easily I could be emotionally influenced by a single movie, when rationally I knew that the movie could not have portrayed all facets of an entire culture.--Michael