Monday, January 23, 2012

Muchos Gratitudos

Life is good right now. There are many reasons why, I wanted to note them down for the record.

I love the weather. Putting aside the legitimately frigid weekend I just experienced in Delhi, I am on cloud 9 with the coolness of wintertime in Ahmedabad. It's nice to feel cool air in a rickshaw, wear a jacket, keep the A/C off in the office, not break into a sweat after bathing, not break into a sweat while standing. In general it is so wonderful to feel the sensation of cold in India, it's so rarefied. I savor every moment as the relentlessly oppressive Heat looms.

I love my roomie. Nimesh is an incredibly inspiring person to me, and living with him is a gift that I cherish. For all of the outward impressions of a humble, grounded, pure-hearted, generous, and compassionate soul, it's only doubly and triply reinforced observing him on a behind-the-scenes mundane day-to-day basis. It's so many little things added up. He goes the extra mile with chores including watering the plants, washing dishes, cleaning common areas. All silently and humbly. One day while I was away, he cleaned out my room which was being used for storage and created an office for both of us to work comfortably in the living room. Another day he set up my mosquito net which subsequently allowed me to get the best night's sleep I had had in a while. He is always on point with his special pumpkin-cinnamon hot cocoa. He is an incredibly disciplined person, especially committed to simplified lifestyle. A couple weeks ago he ended his year-long resolution to not eat out at *any* restaurant. Why? Because it was something he relished and he wanted to master the impulse. We celebrated the ending by grubbing at Taco Fresco, the one and only Mexican restaurant in Ahmedabad (was good!). He has been hand-washing all of his clothes for at least the last year. It's really hardcore. Some time ago Nipun and I were talking about drinking alcohol, and I had mentioned that like with meat-eating, I was planning on letting my craving of alcohol naturally wither so that I don't have to force myself to give it up. I tend to favor a more organic approach where the craving/desire leaves on its own time. But Nipun said something interesting. He said that such attachments provide you an opportunity to cultivate self-restraint and self-discipline, which you can deposit in the bank of merits to serve as a source of mental strength for future life battles. It's an excellent point, and one that Nimo implicitly understands and embodies. His inner strength is inspirational. Buddy, thank you for being who you are.

I love my work. There's so many things to do all the time, it's very busy. But all the todos are worthwhile. I am not sleeping enough but the hours I'm awake are full of purpose and meaning. In the past month or so I've sat with some of the pioneers and superstars of development in Gujarat and beyond. It's a real blessing to learn from and work with people you genuinely admire. Recently Kapilbhai and I took a car together to Gandhinagar to meet with the head of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh ("Indian Farmer's Collective"). We discussed strategy for my meeting about how AD could serve them, and I paused to reflect with a smile, "Man, it doesn't get better than this." Talking about real-deal work we can do with a real-deal national-level organization with one of the most real-deal grassroots workers/thinkers/activists I have had the pleasure of knowing. I'm proud that this is my job.

I love my community. Being in contact with Manav Sadhna provides a richness to daily life that complements regular work in a perfect way. There is always something or other going on; a gathering at Seva Cafe, a volunteer visiting from this place, a group to interact with from that. Last month we hosted Teach for India, a powerful gathering where we heard stories from fellows who spent a day and a night in Ahmedabad with no wallet or cell phone, just Rs.50. Later we hosted Jagriti Yatra, a group of 450 social entrepreneurs. We broke them up into groups and had them interact with specific projects (each group had a name like 'compassion', 'oneness'; Jayeshbhai's group was called 'love'). Nimo and I facilitated one group and it was really wonderful sharing our journeys and about what made MS special. What a privilege to be interfacing and influencing and creating ripples with India's changemakers of tomorrow.

I love my soccer kids. There is an indescribable joy working with these kids. Their smiles, their energy, enthusiasm, their barrage of little hugs and "Neilsir!" greetings, and their effort in trying to get better at football. It is really genuine. Several weeks ago Sunday practice got delayed so we didn't have time for a match, which we usually do at the end. I had to leave, but the kids begged me to stay and ref for them. I couldn't, and as I walked away I saw them picking sides, setting up the goals, and getting started anyway. They were simply playing for themselves and for the love of the game. At that moment this project had past my ultimate test of value.

Working on the soccer program I have questioned why it took me so long to get into coaching soccer. It is a no-brainer, marrying two things I am deeply passionate about (football and mentoring).

Few weeks ago we took about 40 of the kids to IIM-A to have practice on their grass field. Proper pitch, no distractions, real grass, real goals, plenty of space. Despite the uphill battle in getting the kids through a rigid security checkpoint, it was a breathtaking experience. The kids warmed up and then for really the first time got to practice long balls and longer buildup play to goal. We set up two matches in parallel at the end. They were so into it, very competitive play. More than anything these kids excel at defense, so aggressive and fearless. It was such a beautiful thing to watch them going at it. After that session I silently resolved to bring a field like that to the Tekro. Virenbhai has mentioned that we can grow this to be a full-out sports program. A comprehensive project that is anchored by our own grounds, equipment, and funding for nutrition, coaches, and medical aid. Host sports leagues and training in football, basketball, volleyball. Nimo wants to bring in American football. Why not? Sky's the limit. There are so many important life values that real team sports (cricket is a pseudo team sport) teaches: teamwork, inclusiveness, trust, sportsmanship, patience. There is no reason that we shouldn't integrate sports more formally into MS' work.

There are so many possibilities, and they are all exciting and resonate with me. I'm grateful to be in a space, time, and mental/physical state that is unfolding a positive life momentum.

1 comment:

  1. beautiful...thanks for sharing your gratitude...makes me smile reading it from my cubicle:)