Tanvi Jindal Shete at 36 is a petite bundle of super-charged energy. Daughter of Sajjan and Sangita Jindal, mother of two tots, director of Jindal South West (JSW) Foundation overseeing the education portfolio, and the dynamic founder of the just opened MuSo (Museum of Solutions), Tanvi’s life spins at unbelievable speed. Her involvement with young minds started in 2009 as a member of the first cohort for the Teach For India fellowship programme in a low income school. After graduating in economics from New York University, Tanvi decided to invest time, energy and money in a passion project—the incredible MuSo. As a space dedicated to empower children to think out of the box instead of staring at static museum displays as passive participants, MuSo offers a world-class experience, possibly, the only one of its kind in India, which encourages visitors of all ages to learn and be inspired, as they walk through nine vibrant floors, meticulously designed by the best Indian and international brains.
I was invited by Sangita to experience MuSo along with my grandchildren before its formal opening. Can’t claim I was jumping with joy—it was a Sunday morning and I rarely step out on Sundays! But which grandma can say “no” to a carnival, live music, food stalls and a staggering amount of activity for restless bachchas? Not only did I make it, but also I became a bachcha myself! I was taken for a great walkthrough by Nameeta Premkumar, the creative force behind some of the most engaging exhibits. Since the opening theme is water, every floor focuses on water and its vital importance—the earth’s survival depends on how we respect our water resources and conserve them for future generations. These narratives are skilfully showcased with apt installations that talk about conservation and eco-responsibility without being boring or preachy. I fell in love with Puddles, the vividly colourful sea turtle, who is the star of a lyrically shot film showing Puddles on a journey through oceans that are rapidly getting denuded of coral and other aquatic life due to our abuse and ignorance.
I was introduced by my friend Surya (key member of the MuSo team) to Michael Peter Edson, the energetic chief museum officer, who left Washington, DC, and a cushy position as director, web and new media strategy, for the prestigious Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, to come on board. This is Mike’s first trip to India—and he is already in love with all things desi! After just over a month of being in Mumbai, he is very much at ease and in tune with all things Bambaiya. Mike’s Diwali Puja celebration with the extended Jindal family will always remain memorable, he said, with a twinkle in his eyes, recounting how seamlessly the playlist switched from devotional music during the puja to contemporary club right after, when young people got a party vibe going and started grooving to Taylor Swift tracks.
I bought two well-crafted Puddles for my youngest grandchildren, who were nowhere in sight! They were busy playing in water in a designated area, where bright yellow water proof ponchos are provided to young enthusiasts as they splash around and follow a water trail that teaches them to respect the world’s most precious resource. This is pro-active learning at its imaginative best, in a brightly lit museum space that lets children run around in a safe, supervised setting that’s filled with wonder and delight! Bravo, Tanvi and team. I hope MuSo travels to other cities soon… kids across India will cherish this very special centre designed just for them.