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the cafe

We move through the tables over 3 days:

  • Day 1: Tables 1-6

  • Day 2: Tables 7-9

  • Day 3 (after 2-3 weeks): Table 10


We leave the cafe together for continuing our unlearning journeys, both on our own and together, ever building the India & Me community.

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Table 1: Getting to Know Each Other

On this table, we introduce ourselves and agree on some ground rules to make the cafe a safe and brave space. Then we move to Table 2.

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Table 2: Who's the Me in India & Me?

On this table, we discuss how recognising that our identity is really many identities, it is "relational". That is, our identity at a moment in time depends on where we are, whom we are with etc. In this cafe we will see how the often unseen aspects of our identity can give some of us a covert or overt "sense of superiority" over others.

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Table 3: Relationships and Me

On this table, we focus on what often gets left out of conversations around "gender" in India. For example, how caste also affects our gendered experience. While some of us are more aware of this, others prefer not to identify by caste because it doesn't or shoudn't matter in modern India. We will together take part in a virtual play to see how how these different approaches affect our daily lives, and how they affect our relations with other people in our family, community and society as a whole.

Table 4: WhatsApp and Me

Most of use WhatsApp today and are used to being forwarded all kinds of posts. We might also do this ourselves. A huge amount of knowledge is being shared in this way today. On this table, we'll use some WhatsApp forwards examples to see how much of the history / current stories we hear are mainly told from the perspective of people with power or status. Through examples from Indian stories, we will see the unseen consequences of how a story is told: the benefits and the harms for us as individuals, as members of our communities and larger society.

Table 5: Water and Me

On this table we play a game based on the popular Monopoly to see how the quality and quantity of water that we have access to depends on many things: which part of India we're in and in different parts of a city or village. Then we talk about how this game helps us see some unseen aspects of India that we might not have thought about before.

Table 6: Pausing to Reflect

At this table we bring together all that we've discussed and experienced on Tables 1-5.

We take a moment to catch our breath, share a reflection each and temporarily leave the cafe to come back to it the next day.

Table 7: Merit and Me

Merit and reservations are areas that have long been viewed as "contentious" in independent India. They impact on the daily lives of all Indians, and anyone who comes from India today. We consider it crucial to India's future that myths about merit and reservations are talked about and de-mystified for better inter-community relations and a better society for all. This table is all about getting down to the hard hitting realities about merit and reservations.

Table 8: Communities and Me

Today India's communities are often divided on religious lines among other things. Long seen as a tolerant country where all religions can thrive, there is a fear now among many people that their religion and religious identity may be in danger. On this table, we see what lies at the root of this fear and what exactly should we be fearful about?

Table 9: Roots and Me

On this table we will again enact another play that will throw up questions about how we see India as a country, a nation, a state, including its borders. Our famed plurality works at various levels, and all of these affect our everyday experience of being Indian or being in India. The "levels" include family, community and nation, the present and the past.

Through this discussion, we will also bring our second day in the cafe to a close. We will leave again, this time for a few days to reflect on all the discussions and activities in the cafe. We hope that everyone will return in 2--3 weeks' time to gather around Table 10, the last table in the cafe.

Table 10: We, Me and Moving Ahead

Coming together once again, wel not only discuss what the past few days were like but also how to stay in touch.

What's next for us as individuals in our social worlds, and as a growing network of people with a broader understanding of the conundrums that we will continue to "unsee" in the coming days.

What will do as we step out of the cafe on last time, what can we do even just at home, or in our communities and wherever we live that will be different from now on?

And if we want to come back, where will we find another table to sit?

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