Already time for another report, and we find that January has turned to March. We haven't been sitting idle (that we never do!). In fact, it feels like we have been on a roller-coaster ride! So many things happened, which have delayed our long-awaited project launch.
The update from the previous report is that: We got the dongles, we got the two sound cards (wow!), we got all the amplifiers except one (which arrives tomorrow!), we got the laptop and we got the original Windows. We always take a lot of time researching options, specs, worldwide pricing, support, etc., before we buy any equipment, and this took quite a while. Things are much quicker and easier with tech in the USA; here orders take time! Then we faced problems in the installation which again took time to troubleshoot and sort out, with support from our friends/supplier in Germany - all of which just got sorted out last week! With the arrival of the last amplifier, we will actually be technically set to launch! Both the GlobalGiving Women's English project and the Tomatis Classroom project. (We had reported earlier, we combined the two to be able to do the import of the equipment properly). It has been extremely long to put it all together! Incidentally, in December Jan we already bought the chairs, bolsters, carpets, hygienic ear puffs, towels etc to prepare the physical space for the women.
Other than the technical problems to sort out, and the Highway issue, several things took my time away from the Lab and this project. The main thing was the organization of the "January sessions" - a very important event for Auroville, where a group of 8 extremely senior Town Planners came from Germany and the UK to help Auroville finds ways forward in its planning conundrum, caught in deep polarities which were preventing the growth of Auroville as a whole... the idea was to conceive an ecological and humane, integrative planning model based on community participation which could break those polarities. A blue-green Galaxy model for Auroville was conceived, inspired by but showing an alternative to the concrete-based Galaxy model of 1968 dating to when Auroville was founded. I was fully involved and subsequently also received a lot of the backlash.... just coming out of that now. Then, two other things happened: CHARLES and another Europe trip!
The Europe Trip came unannounced, really suddenly, at the last minute: a Tomatis Continuing training in Switzerland, mainly on a specific program developed by a professor from the University of Heidelberg, on Primary Auditory Evoked Potentials, which could help prove the effects of Tomatis. We can do before and after tests and thus have a worldwide scientific documentation/database to go with all our incredible anecdotal stories of progress. I couldn't miss that, so I went. I've just returned this past weekend! In fact, this professor wants to collaborate with us on our Language research! Also went to Germany and thanks to the friends of the January sessions, met a company specializing in passive cooling and climate engineering... they will help us with the technical know-how to complete our cooling and dehumidification shafts! In fact, they were super interested in our building! So that is a great thing! They are discussing internally how to do it, since it will be pro-bono! It was a fantastic meeting!
And on top of all that, CHARLES visited! A friend and Tomatis colleague from Canada. He'd always been inspired by the Tomatis film of 1992 which documents me in a language experiment which shows the power of Tomatis. Have been meeting him at the Swiss conferences every two years. He suddenly called up and said he was coming and wanted to work with our team to find the Tomatis settings/parameters for TAMIL! A long-standing dream! Our entire team was involved. I even had to leave for Switzerland before he finished. It was fantastic! We have a serious hypothesis now! It involved working directly with the Tomatis machine with several Tamil readers, reading under different Tomatis language settings, to see which settings helped in the language flow and which didn't at all. And then seeing if the ones that worked and helped in the flow of reading, also helped Tamil learners. Charles and I had talked about this two years ago. Charles loved working with our team (he found them fantastic!) and together they managed to find a setting that seems pretty probable for Tamil. Now we have to test it out further with more readers and more learners! In the process, all of our young team learnt to manipulate the machine and also were exposed to the Tomatis effect themselves, which was eye-opening for them. So many volunteers participated, including our welder's wife (in between all this Tapas was also supervising our roof extension to protect the roof from rain)! Every Tamil member of our team participated including our Tamil teacher.
So all this time, while the tech part was being laboriously put together, all this other stuff was going on. Which basically means, only now can we finally turn our attention to implementing our GlobalGiving Group English for Women and Tomatis classroom projects!
We've had discussions all along of course, about various aspects of the program. We've faced many questions about its implementation... For example, what is the apt time for the women for the listening. How can we make sure with the families that they can spare two hours a day? If two hours a day (the regular Tomatis program) is too much to give and eats into their household duty time, then how can we modify the program without compromising on its quality. What liberties can we take with the Tomatis protocol to adjust to the actual realities of women? Can we and should we offer it free of cost (the answer is No, there has to be a participation)? Can we logistically organize two different groups, one following the regular protocol in the day, and the other in the late afternoon/early evening? (We also wrote to the Auroville units employing village women asking for their views and inputs). What is the price at which we can offer it (that greatly reduced group price) so that it does not negatively affect the individual program pricing and clients? How can we organize our team's work timings to facilitate the group of women who need to come after work? One more member of the team now is fully trained and able to run the Tomatis programs, which makes up for the missing member who is still out on maternity leave. This was also done to prepare for the GlobalGiving program. We've also talked about how we are going to advertise the program, using the local Tamil newspapers, and organising several hands-on introductory experiments (not talks, which are boring. I did one, for the first group of Tamil women, and it was excruciatingly boring I thought. People need to see practically what it is!) every Saturday for a few Saturdays till we get stable and good groups to work with. Saturdays are important because they are the only day we don't have our daily bread-and-butter Mon-Fri clients who naturally also are a huge aim of our work. [Incidentally, we've had wonderful stories of progress with all of the kids doing the Tomatis program, and that's a whole other topic in itself - several children on the Autism spectrum who have started to communicate and speak - each one a story in itself; a child with Cerebral Palsy who can now hold his head on his own, and more!]. Summertime will also bring the possibility of working with girls in their school holidays.
So you see, it indeed has been a very long time, but, we haven't been faffing off; we've been consistently working, and behind it all has been our commitment to you as donors for this project. We are deeply aware of this commitment! So we can't give an exact date for the project launch, but it will be in the next month or so. I do need to have a bit of a rest, and then, there are the year-end accounts to be done (in India, the Financial Year ends on March 31st). And we need to organise the two starting groups. We need to be crystal clear about the hows and whats before we start.
If you have any questions or comments, please do write and ask. We'd love interaction. No time to transfer photos from the iPhone to the computer now, but next time, I promise pictures.