Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I did. I know, I'm a bit crazy but I've been wanting to do it for a long time. Right now I'm on day 8 of my notice period. The stipulated period is 60 days. I'm traveling in between to speak at conferences so it's going to be 70 or 80 days before I actually leave the office.
There's been a lot of rumors and people interested in what I'll be doing next so I hope this answers your questions:
Do I have a job? Where will I join?
No, I don't have another job lined up. I'm not joining anywhere but you can hire me as a freelance writer, editor, and/or Internet marketer. If you want to build software or manage or IT stuff, you can talk to my soon-to-be colleague/partner. There's a couple of things I'll be doing. Most of it is writing, traveling and fund raising. I want to use my skills to change things in a big way. Read on.
Am I going to Delhi?
No, I'm not. So stop asking but I have to go speak at an event and meet an editor.
Why did I quit?
I'm doing my own thing. My mission is to get solar panels into Myanmar. I got the inspiration when I visited in May 2008 right after Cyclone Nargis hit. My plane literally landed when the storm cleared. First thing my mom said after she cleared off her tears was, "No water, no electricity. Food is there because we have leftovers." My parent's house had only two parts of the roof broken. One on the veranda so it didn't matter, the other one for the bathroom, which they had already fixed with a spare plastic roof we had around the house. That part of the house was the brightest in the whole house because the plastic was clear. I had to go to my aunt's place to have a shower because they had a well. I had to go see my 94 year old grandma as well. She didn't know what was going on but she asked, "Why did they stop the trains?" She can't see anymore and she's mostly bedridden.
The next day, I looked up in the bathroom and it was almost like divine inspiration that struck me, "Why don't we install solar panels dad?" I said. So my dad said, "Ya, that's possible." I've been wanting to get into solar panels for a long time since I know that West Bengal produces them but I've been too busy with work to think about other stuff. That was the moment when I connected the dots and knew that this is possible. It's renewable energy, it's clean, and it's going to benefit the people.
I stayed there for only a little over a week but stuff I saw changed me completely. When I landed, the city I knew in my childhood had completely changed. The big huge trees I used to see on my way to school everyday had all fallen with their roots in the air. There were long lines of cars at the natural gas pumps and other gas stations even though gas prices where USD$10.00 a gallon. It was like a war zone. My dad called it, "the end of the world" or "apocalypse." My aunt's neighbors did not have a house to live in so my aunt had to attend to them. Neighbors poured out to help each other, cleared the streets. Our church raised USD$10,000 (that's a lot of money in Myanmar) in relief funds within a Sunday service. Whole villages had disappeared. 100,000 people were declared missing or dead.
Our country prides itself in exporting rice to other countries, but because of the cyclone, for the first time in history we are importing rice. I heard horror stories of merchants jacking up prices. We heard on the radio, sitting in the dark after dinner that the food prices around the world had gone up yet again. It felt literally like the end of the world. I want to go back there and change all that.
So come May 2009, a year after the cyclone, I'm launching the Spirit of Light Myanmar. We already have a name and a logo. I can't help it, I'm a marketer, I think like a marketer. It's also awesome having partners like Jeanne, who is a kick ass Internet marketer and graphic designer and Indranil, who is a power networker and change agent among other things he does. We have a couple of partner organizations in West Bengal and Myanmar and a couple of big wigs who will eventually form the advisory board for the project.
This is just one of the major projects that I'll be launching and handling. Ya, there's more so you're gonna have to stay tuned!
Photo by Windy Sydney