This is the write up (document) from our first intern’s experience with The Red Door. There has been some delay in our website construction – and we didn’t want you guys to be waiting so we’re sharing it as it is!
So, what is the definition of ‘mad’ according to you again? Well, sorry it doesn’t really matter what you say because you are probably mad too, everyone is. I never really believed in defining anything. I always thought that labels were the barriers which gave rise to discrimination but I never really said anything against it because somehow I knew that labels are important too.
In my one month long internship at The Red Door I have realized that labels are important if you want them to be and they are useless if you want them to be, after all we all live in our own separate world and delusions anyway. My definition of mad people was formed before I had joined the internship of course, why wouldn’t it be so? 19 years I’ve lived my life on this planet which has television and internet which basically defines everyone and everything. If you compare my then definition of mad to definition of mad by other people, you would realize mine wasn’t offensive at all. It was something like “they are people who have mental disorder(s) but can be helped/cured using various therapies like psychotherapy, medication, healing, art etc. and these people deserve rights too” damn, when I read this now I see words/ideas in there which offend me now. Yes, this seems offensive and if I can put my experience in words properly, you will also see all that is wrong in that definition by the end of this report.
So my internship started with The Unbirthday celebration of The Red Door, where we basically went out with old and new friends, had lunch, a few drinks, an interview and some serious talk in a casual way. This happened outside Pune and on our way back Resh explained the work I would be doing. Of course the first day was very interesting and it made me realize that the next month will be exactly how I expected it to be, full of creativity and fun, and some serious work too.
After that trip we had couple of meetings in the house of my boss and her cats. Hey that was another small experience I had, I started liking cats again. Sorry back to the point, our next job was to visit Matheran and paint some walls for the Matheran Green Festival. That place was pretty impressive with all the greenery, love of local people, food, awesome artists from across the world and great performances. Apart from all this, something great really hit me on our 2nd day there, our good friend babaji was talking about life, oneness, existence etc. and after listening to him for about an hour I just got up and started walking away…thinking. I knew all the things he was saying, I had been thinking and talking about it since a long time, but him talking about it; I knew I was somehow on the right track… I walked away into the main market and I found peace amongst strangers, just inner peace.
Next two three days I spent listening to mythological stories, understanding a bit about energy play, met people who had opinions about mental health which were very encouraging to our approach towards the issue. We had a lot of fun too of course, painting more walls, meeting our local stalkers, dancing, eating etc. and our other serious work included talking to local people, the doctor and taking interviews of artists, performers and coordinators. That’s how our days were passed in Matheran and after that we came back to Pune, did some more work which was just sitting in front of a screen and typing and chatting and reading.
This went on for about a couple of weeks during which we had a few meetings too. By now I had been introduced to a lot of people dealing with mental disorders and the best part about that was to find the similarities between their stories and the differences between their personalities. One cannot say that I was studying them, I wasn’t, I didn’t need to, all I had to do was just be with them and understand them and understand how their energy works. The differences were quite fascinating, one of them had ran away from a recovery center even when there was no assurance about her future, one never ever took medication or never even visited a psychiatrist, the other was an aspiring musician who was doing quite well, another one was sort of a person who would stay home and had a family.
Even with these differences, almost all of them preferred alternative forms of recovery because of the side effects of medication and all of them wanted freedom, some of them had already achieved it and some were struggling to reach there yet.
Our next stop was Bangaluru. A week before leaving for that place we were busy coordinating our stay, registrations for the workshop, managing merchandise etc. On 23rd of July we landed in Bangaluru at night and us being super-hyper-active creatures, we slept really late at night because we were entertaining our host. Next morning I woke up late as usual; drank milk, took a shower and then we left the house at around 1 pm cause Resh had a talk at Sochara and I was to be the observer.
On our way back to the house we bought art materials for the workshop and went back home where chocolate flavored ice-cream was waiting for us, and by now I was a complete Red Door person, and Red Door people don’t let the ice cream exist outside their mouth for more than 5 minutes. The next morning we woke up, packed our heavy bags which had all the workshop material and went off for lunch with Ashoka people. Now these were the Employees of Ashoka foundation and they were really cool and friendly people. We all had lunch together, everyone was joking around and it was just a good environment.
After lunch Resh talked to them a little about safe space and its importance and we then left for our workshop. On the way to that place we discussed more about energy play which takes place at different places and by now I had reached another level of understanding energies so I could analyze people and places better now and that too in a non-judgmental way. At 4 pm we reached our destination and the workshop wasn’t supposed to begin for an hour at least so till then we set up the place, collected all the required materials and by doing these things we easily killed an hour.
Now, I will not tell you what all happened in that workshop in detail but I will just share my experience of it. So the workshop started with a small talk and then participants had to close their eyes and listen to what was being told, they then had to paint after it and then stand in pairs. Now, I must tell you that by the time people stood in pairs the place got very intense and in next couple of minutes tears slid down my cheeks. No I wasn’t even part of the workshop. I was just standing there observing people but I could simply feel the pain of other people and I had to cry.
After that magic happened and I was part of that magic where people were laughing and crying, almost everyone cried and then everyone laughed, everyone felt the tension and together everyone released it. In the end we danced together and took pictures. That night every person in that room took back something with them. I learned that crying is very natural and that everyone has to deal with shit. Safe spaces are very important and most of all, we just need to love and share without judgment. That night a little difference was made in this world and if people want to and can do it, then this will spread slowly to other people.
The next day we took rest and us Poona people rest is just too cool. Waking up late, having ice-cream for breakfast…then after sometime wada sambar and dosa, then taking selfies on the way back to our stay. Once we reached we tried to be normal but then after an hour we found ourselves to be super high on Govinda bhajans and dancing Chooki, the Bear.
At night we shifted to another house where Ashoka people were having a really cool party. Well that night we had fun and then crashed. Next day we were invited for an event by Basic Needs which went on for about 3 hours or so, in between though we sneaked out and had something to eat and played with a kid. After the event we met another crazy person, she was really cool, (perfect Red Door person). After a fun chat with her we headed back to the house and of course did some fun crazy things on our way back. These crazy things included trespassing, shadow fighting and tripping. We reached home and then entertained this other host of ours. Next day was Sunday and we did have some work in the morning but both of us were too sick to do it so we just took a break that day, made another friend, watched a movie and slept after a pillow fight. We came back to Pune 12 hours later and that’s when my internship ended.
During the last one week I had a conversation with the Doer which summarised my whole experience of The Red Door. In one month I learnt about mental health, how people look at it, how people with a mental illness function, how society functions, managing time, socializing, writing, painting etc. but most of all, this one and a half month was a spiritual journey for me.
Resh asked me about my story, the story of my soul, what I am doing here and this triggered an answer to come out. The answer to that question is personal but I told her “I was born in the family I have to be here, I went through all those good times and bad times to be here and here is the oath towards the purpose of my life”
The Red Door was another step taking me closer towards my purpose. Here I learnt to feel and to react, to believe and to act and to love and receive. I learnt about religion and philosophy, I learnt to feel energies and play with it. I understood healing more than I did before. I understood humans better than I did before and I understood animals better than what I did before. Even though I’ve told you about the things I have learnt I cannot make you understand it fully, because The Red Door is an experience which can only be felt and cannot be put down on a paper.