There’s this comfort cocoon , a shell that all of us (or lets just say me) love going back to, to feel good about ourselves, our achievements and our contribution to society. This greatness is measured on our own scale and parameters that are a result of our experiences, perceptions and transactions in this world . Needless to say its hence coloured with our world view . And then (for all of us without doubt ) there are these eureka moments , these wake up calls that drag us out of this comfort zone with a feeling that there is a way of seeing life and achievements beyond how we see them.
I believe these eureka moments don’t show up to prove us wrong, there can be no wrong way of looking at life ,can it ? they show up to create a moment for us, the moment of realization.
MOMENT 1 : Every Diwali there’s an influx of children who come with their families selling flowers and diyas .Their presence was unnoticed by me till three years ago when a dear friend, Ruchi Srivastava took the initiative of distributing food boxes to these kids who live on the sidewalk for the duration of this festive migration and help their parents earn.
Last Diwali I went out distributing these food boxes with hotel management students and saw the two powers at work, the power of giving and the power of children. Like I had gone in the first year ,the students also went with an expectation of seeing scarcity and hunger , instead we saw happiness and gratitude. The only imperfection was in the way we were looking at them; for them, life was perfect. They were busy with life, studying or taking care of younger kin or tying together garlands for sale.
There was not one child who did not thank us for the food or who wasn’t curious why we were doing this.
We in fact were doing this for ourselves and that what all the students eventually realised, while we started out to fill in for a need on the streets we eventually filled up our souls with gratitude; the happiness that the students got was really moving.
My eureka moment that made me realise that our need to give is born out of our need to get(actually borrow, a little bit of happiness from these children )
MOMENT 2 : I was at another friend, Rushina’s cook Studio with young children from teach for India Foundation. It was supposed to be a quick visit to taste some egg dishes that they had made and it ended up being the most memorable 2 hours that will stay with me for this lifetime. these children (who were from extremely economically challenged families ) in Addition to happiness also showed another virtue , responsibility. Every dish tasted divine and the first guess for anybody would have been that these were seasoned hands at work. In a way they were because they were cooking ever since they were six or so due to challenging situations back home . This happy shock wasn’t enough to make my day , the best was yet to come.
There was apparently a test with 12 questions to check on how they had fared in their food classes, which various chefs had taken n the last 8 weeks . To me the questions seemed largely unfair to be asked to a bunch of 10-12 year olds and the silence that ensued post question paper distribution confirmed it for me , i stayed back just out of curiosity with no expectations. To make it easier on the kids i didn’t check the papers and started a discussion hoping to make them feel better for not knowing . what happened next moved me to tears ,suddenly everyone was excited to answer and everyone had the right answers . the reason for silence that i mistook for not knowing was for responsibly relaying what they had learnt and the quiet focus was on winning this challenge that had been posed. I had never heard a better explanation of how chocolate was made that i heard from a 9 year olds mouth . the process of fermentation was explained to me in a way that i had no more to ask . then i saw all answer sheets they had all questions answered in all papers . here i was trying to make them feel comfortable for not knowing where the only person to not know was me myself. lesson learnt – knowledge is not a function of resources available , its a function of commitment to learning which occurs in the human mind , the space where theres no rich or poor – only purity , love and happiness .