Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If Tiles Could Talk They'd Be Text-Tiles

My friend Ana of I Made It So has this wonderful weekly feature on her blog where she invites readers to dig into their blog archives and recycle a favorite old post. She provides a theme each Friday, we all get to fish around for something appropriate to share AND we get to read everyone else's offerings. Sometimes, her themes are so interesting I am inspired to do a new post just for the occasion. This is one of those.

Ana's theme this past Friday was "text, tile, textile" (she doesn't use capital letters).

I've been thinking about tiles so much I see them in my dreams and talk about them in my sleep. We are building an Early Intervention Centre at the government run Doon Hospital. Building! We are building - from scratch! state-of-the-art! - one of our own centres right inside a government hospital. There are days when I go to the site and I am so overcome I just stand there in a daze while everyone else moves purposefully around me.

You have to know, first, what a government hospital in India is like. The Doon Hospital has improved considerably since the first time I saw it over 20 years ago. Then there were open drains running along the corridors, the walls were stained red from people spitting paan juice on them, and the wards were stacked with people, sometimes lying three to a bed.

Now it is much cleaner and better organized, but those are relative terms. Glance out of any ward-window and you will still see piles of refuse rotting on the ledges. Walk past any bathroom and you still have to hold your breath to make it by without gagging. And step into any ward and you will still see patients lying in various levels of pain and suffering, huddled beneath flimsy blankets they had to bring in themselves from home.

But all around them, as far as the eye can see, are miles and miles of white tile. It's a new innovation, meant to convey hospital-like cleanliness and hygiene, and, to a degree, it works. White tiles can be washed. Paan stains are regularly removed. Good move, Doc!

The tiles in our Early Intervention Centre are not white.

This is the kitchen.

And here's the counseling room.

And here's a close-up of the blue-ish purple tile we chose for the children's play area:

Each room is different. Each room says that people are not all the same. The text of our tiles is a celebration of the unrepeatable special spark that lies within each child, just waiting to be fanned into flame.

And this is the real wonder. This is what amazes me. How did we slip this revolutionary idea past the white tile wallas, the ones who believe that all of India's problems will be solved by hygiene and systems and objectively verifiable indicators?

So ssshhh. Don't tell anyone. Those tiles are talking.


deepali.bisht.negi said...

Jo di, its always a treat to read what you write. An inspiration !
And yes, space in Doon hospital is a real big achievement,great to hear that. Congrates to all !

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Thanks, Deepali! How are you doing???

clearlytangled said...

i popped over here from ana's friday archive dive. what an amazing project you are apart of!

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Hey, Clearly Tangled! Thanks for the comment. I remember your Buttons post on ana's Friday Dive a few weeks ago and I LOVE the little baby shoes, even if you weren't 100% pleased with them.

Quite an eclectic blog you've got - food, crafts . . .I'll keep visiting.

ana @ i made it so said...

i love it jo! sounds like the hospital has come a long way. and the intentions behind the tile choices speak loudly of your mission and hopes for the space. thanks for sharing, always.

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Thank you, ana . . . I still can't really believe this is happening. To get a huge bureaucracy like the Government of India to pause and think about little kids with disability - it's amazing!

ana @ i made it so said...

it's amazing work you're doing. so glad you visited me that day (seems like a long time ago now!) and told me all about what you do. thank you.