Narrative Practices India: A Conversation with Jehanzeb Baldiwala

In Conversation with Jehanzeb Baldiwala about Narrative Practices India, Mumbai.

Trishala Kanakia (Calcutta, India) interviews Jehanzeb Baldiwala about Narrative Practices India- a collective exploring narrative ideas and practices in diverse contexts in India and Nepal. In the spirit of communities in connection (rather than individuals in competition), this conversation is the first blog post in a new news blog series bringing together a network of independent narrative training initiatives around the world  that share the commitment to preserve, develop, and extend the legacy of narrative therapy.

Narrative Practices India: A Conversation with Jehanzeb Baldiwala

1We would love to learn about the work your organization/ collective does? Could you share with us a little bit about your organization and work context?

Jehanzeb: In July, 2020, six colleagues, we came together to bring together Narrative Practices India. Our hope was to create a space for people to explore narrative ideas in practices, and for us to explore how they might look in the diverse context of this region (south East Asian content) and in diverse spaces, in therapy spaces, but also how they might look as practices that might be adapted in contexts of writing, in journalism, in teaching, in other kinds of activist spaces and community spaces. And it’s been a little over a year now, so we have lots of exciting training that we offer.

For further interest:

NPI Website

2What are some of the hopes that you have for Narrative Practices India and the people you collaborate with?

Jehanzeb: Our hope is to nurture safe spaces and collective accountability, explore the possibilities of people’s preferred ways of being, engage with the idea of imperfect solidarity, and this idea of holding complexity. And, to think how we do that in this really difficult world that we’re living in. Our hope of being a collective was in some ways to challenge the structures of organizations like hierarchy. We endeavor to make visible for people that problems are rooted in systems, oppression, structure rather than in themselves and in communities and in their bodies and in their identities. How do we help communities and people to notice, realize, and own the fact that they’re experts of their own lives and that they have this agency?

For further interest:

Collaborations

3Could you speak a little about the members of the collective? Also, what are some of the communities and contexts you collaborate with?

Jehanzeb: The members of the collective as of now are a very diverse group. Raviraj & Aditi have an educational background in occupational therapy. Jill has an interest in autism. Prathama works in the context of disability. Shamin works in the school inclusion space. I (Jehanzeb) work with children and their families and adults. I think collectively we have an interest in developing alternative professional discourses and identities in the supervision context. Our participants in trainings have been from many different spaces. Some of them are writers, some work in the school teaching context, and some are therapists. And, I think one of the things that we’re learning and hoping to draw attention to is the different kinds of systemic oppression that exists in our country (particularly), and cost being one of the big ones. Keeping that in mind, we collaborate with many organisations like Blue dawn, that provides accessible mental health services to marginalised communities; school population in the municipal corporations; and organisations that promote youth wellness. We’ve recently been collaborating with different modalities like mindfulness and narrative therapy while doing trauma work. The members of the collective as of now are a very diverse group. Raviraj & Aditi have an educational background in occupational therapy. Jill has an interest in autism. Prathama works in the context of disability. Shamin works in the school inclusion space. I (Jehanzeb) work with children and their families and adults. I think collectively we have an interest in developing alternative professional discourses and identities in the supervision context. Our participants in trainings have been from many different spaces. Some of them are writers, some work in the school teaching context, and some are therapists. And, I think one of the things that we’re learning and hoping to draw attention to is the different kinds of systemic oppression that exists in our country (particularly), and cost being one of the big ones. Keeping that in mind, we collaborate with many organisations like Blue dawn, that provides accessible mental health services to marginalised communities; school population in the municipal corporations; and organisations that promote youth wellness. We’ve recently been collaborating with different modalities like mindfulness and narrative therapy while doing trauma work.

For further interest:

People of the Collective

Cooking Rescued Us

4Could you share with us the trainings and workshops NPI offers? What are some ways in which you invite ideas of inclusion and respect for diversity in your work?

Jehanzeb: There are year long diploma courses on Narrative Practices with supervision, supervision groups. We also have shorter workshops on narrative ideas and practices in the context of trauma, and introductory workshops etc.

Inclusive practices, we try to think of it in every possible way. For instance, the smallest things in terms of making communication more accessible and to reach multiple audiences. By ensuring that we have, not just flyers or texts, but we also have it presented in a way that it can be read and understood by a reader. Being mindful that we ask at every registration, if people have accessibility to means that we can take into consideration. Ensuring that we offer scholarships for people who are not able to financially afford the trainings. Ensuring within the trainings through diverse practices that everybody gets a space to voice their opinions and is able to hold space for different opinions. But, it’s such a journey for this whole idea of inclusion. Because, even that word comes from a space of power, that somebody has the power to include somebody else. But, we try to think about how do we construct spaces where it becomes possible for everybody to participate rather than a space where one person has to include another.

For further interest:

South Asian Diploma in Narrative Practices 2022

Workshops

Supervision

5Is there a pleasing story from NPI’s journey that comes to mind? What might this story speak of the impact it makes possible for the people you may work with and the mental health community at large?

Jehanzeb: There are so many moments, from the moment we announced. I think there was a lot of excitement around the announcement Then, commencing the diploma was exciting, too. The diploma graduation ceremony was really memorable. I think the celebration, obviously of journey and the excitement for the participants. The graduation was a lot about witnessing each other, sharing ideas, and celebrating. I think for me (Jehanzeb), what’s most special is our Monday morning meetings where the six of us get together. The ability to discuss things, and come together in a particular way.

With regard to impact, that’s a tough question. I think it might be an interesting question to ask the participants of the diploma rather than us. I’m hoping that people are taking away the practices and creating wonderful things as they go along. There are people using narrative practices in the school space, the community space, with other communities like LGBTQI communities that have experienced marginalization. There was one participant working in the space of restorative justice. We do hope that the people, participants work with would in some way experience life in more preferred ways. I think that it’s exciting to see that it is materialising in different ways.

6As you’re reflecting on some of the hopes and initiatives of NPI, the people and the communities you work with, special moments, is there a word, a metaphor, or an image that comes to your mind that would describe NPI’s journey so far?

Jehanzeb: I think for us the metaphor (also our logo) of Rhizomes will always be something that’s close to what we believe in. The sense of community and connectedness that Rhizomes have; in how they grow and how they spread, and how they uproot certain existing oppressive systems also. That metaphor is also our journey. And, I think we hold a lot of gratitude for all the people who’ve been part of the journey. There was a lot of excitement and love from all the people that we have engaged with over the years and for what is going to come. An openness to support us in small ways like sharing posts, sending messages. That has meant a lot. And, the image of this Rhizome that connects many people together is a very strong metaphor and a representation of who we are.

Further Resources

We’ve brought together here a few of the many emerging Narrative Practices India resources and initiatives. You can also find our more about the upcoming Diploma Programs and Supervision opportunities. Sign up for their newsletter! Contact NPI with any questions or simply to say “Wow.” And please… remember you can easily leave us a comment below!

Narrative Practices India Website

Narrative Practices India is a collective that is exploring narrative ideas and practices in diverse contexts with the hope to nurture collective accountability and explore possibilities of preferred ways of being

Learn More

Cooking Rescued Us - a collective document project

Cooking has rescued many of us through rough, unsettling and painful times. A certain recipe, an ingredient, a moment in our kitchen, a certain process or the mere shopping for grocery has helped us grieve the loss of a loved one, shut down the voices of doubt, make sense of the heart-ache, made us feel…

Learn More

Workshops

Narrative Practices India offers workshops for those interested in exploring narrative ideas and practices. Workshops are available for people new to narrative practice and for practitioners who wish to extend the skills they are already using.

Learn More

Subscribe for Updates

Sign up for the newsletter to find out all that is happening with the Narrative Practices India Collective

Learn More

People of the Collective

Click on the picture of the person to know more details about them

Learn More

Watch our Narrative Practices India Playlist!

Leave A Comment