Prasad Kantamneni is a Silicon Valley transplant in rural Andhra Pradesh. He lives at the intersection of politics, design, social work, and entrepreneurship.
I was visiting an informant’s home with a couple of colleagues to observe her trying to find information on the Internet.
Things were great – until she opened the door. The first thing we noticed was that the carpet had a lot of pink confetti on it. The confetti seemed to be everywhere. Then things turned scary when we realized that the confetti was skin — lots of it! The informant had shed most of her outer layer of skin.
At this point, all of us were worried that we would catch something. I knew my colleagues did not want to continue with the visit, but I didn’t want to be disrespectful by cancelling the visit without a valid reason. So I made the call to continue.
To give my colleagues an out, I asked them to record the interview — which gave them an excuse to keep standing. I then proceeded to ask her about the kinds of information she looked for on-line. She mentioned that, among other things, she sometimes researched her medical condition. At which point I asked her to do what she would normally do when researching the condition. As she searched for the information, all of us were equally involved, trying to read if the disease was communicable!
Once we realized that the disease was not communicable, we were able to get past our mental block and proceed with the interview.
This is one visit none of us were likely to forget any time soon.
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