Meet The Gurus Of Peace From India

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It’s a lovely Sunday morning. It’s raining heavily and my area is submerged. I am too. The only difference is that area is submerged in water and I am submerged in love, kindness, compassion, gratitude and blessings of great mentors.

As I talk about mentors, two names immediately come up in my mind—Jayesh Patel and Yogesh Mathuria. Both of them have deep impact on my life. These two men are living legends. Both are examples of a great human that one can witness in this life.

Jayeshbhai has dedicated all his life to the issue of sanitation and runs his sanitation school next to Gandhi ashram. His father dedicated all his life to sanitation too. He’s such a humble man and an ocean of compassion.

Yogeshbhai is a corporate tycoon turned peace agent and healer. He’s a messenger of peace and does his regular walking pilgrimages to connect with rural India and spread love. I also got an opportunity to walk with him—that walk has changed the way I look at world and myself.

I am submerged in blessings of these mentors and lovers who are designing my life. I am thankful to life for giving me this opportunity in this life and I hope, I’ll also touch a billion hearts in this lifetime.

The Woman Of Substance

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In 2014, I was on a no-money walking pilgrimage with one of the designers of my life. I walked more than 300 kilometers from Ahmadabad to Udaipur; without any money on me. Isn’t that awesome!

On our journey, we had many schools and one such school—Yoganjali—was very special. They had hundreds of little children that I met. After breakfast, we met this 80-year young lady, Ramilben Gandhi, and just kept watching her for few moments.

She was like a Goddess, wrapped in khadi saree, sitting on her throne, fluent in English, Hindi and Gujarati, and an aura around her. A lady, in her 80s, but beautiful than Miss Universe! I got hijacked and they way she welcomed her with her sweet voice, it killed me. She started asking about our journey and my mentor told him about our no-money walking pilgrimage.

Then, I asked to share her story. As she was sharing her journey, I was just looking at her like a rock and feeling so frightened within. She shared that she had left her home at the age of 20 and joined national teacher and spiritual successor of Mahatma GandhiVinoba Bhave—for the Land Gift Movement. I was getting chills listening to her story and felt almost like a quark in front of her. I thought that I was the one who is doing a difficult task, walking for peace and all that stuff but when I got to know that she walked with Vinoba for 10 years, I remained quiet for the whole day.

Can you believe? A young lady of 20 years or so, leaving her home against the will of her parents and joining a man who was supposed to walk India for 25 years asking for land for rich landlords! This is Awesome!

She told us how she walked all around India in the 1950s and collected land from the rich land owners and gifted the poor farmers. After that she came and established this school, all alone. It was a men oriented world then and it is still now and all that she did to establish a school at that time was a real tough job. She never married and has given all her life for education and service, selfless service. She is a firm believer in self-reliance and had built a home of mud and all Eco-friendly products.

Next morning, I put my head on her feet and had her thoughts all through the journey. I wonder when I see some women who say I am a modern woman, today’s woman. I feel that wasn’t she a modern woman too? Left her home in 20s, walked for a cause all around India, promoted self-reliance, establish a school alone etc.

Who is modern then? Maybe, both women are modern but I firmly believe that modernism has nothing to do with clothes, language or gadgets. It has to do with courage, thoughts, character and a heart full of love that Ramilaben Gandhi had got 60 years ago!

This Man Has Brought His Remote Tribal Village On The Map Of India

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Few years ago, I was on a no-money walking pilgrimage. We had to hunt for host families for night stay during our walk. And, this man came like an oasis in the desert because that day we couldn’t find one.

I don’t know the divine messenger who told him about our peace pilgrimage but he invited us to rest in his tribal village. The word tribal made me super excited because I had never been hosted by one. Anyway, we marched towards the address he gave and after a long walk; we reached the base of his tribal village; Khatisitra.

The village is in the north of Gujarat, India. It’s a pristine tribal village inside Balaram-Ambaji Wildlife Sanctuary and not even on the map of India. We heard all good things on the way but the village was not on the base, it was a two hours trek from the base. It was an extremely difficult trek to the village but we somehow made it; of course, with the help of our guide who was a young child with no footwear on him.

Finally, we reached there and met Mustukhan Sukh who welcomed us in the tribal way. There were songs, flower garland and rituals as per Hindu tribal customs. We were overwhelmed by this warm welcome. By this time, he had already won our hearts. Anyway, the day was all about food and sleep but as the stars showed up, he gifted us a nice bonfire. This is the time we came to know the real him.

He has done his graduation in rural studies and post-graduation in social service. He always wanted to serve the rural community and in the young age of around 25, when most of the youth are busy thinking to either go abroad or earn lots of money and fame, he left his home to work for the rural population of his state—Gujarat. He came to this area and adopted this village and started his journey to serve these tribal.

In the start, he was not welcomed because people thought that he is one of those people that comes there to do nothing or destroy their peace. They condemned his stay. But, he was very clear. He wanted to open a school there and work for medical assistance. Even the forest department threatened him several times because of his home school he started in inside he forest. But, he was all determined to serve selflessly.

There were many instances of quarrels but one day there was a medical urgency where he was of big help to the villagers and this marked his victory in their hearts. He put his life in trouble to support a delivery case and saved both the mother and child. This made him a hero overnight plus almost two years of hard work.

Now, he is the official village mentor and has been given a land by the tribal head to run his home and a school. There was no education in the area and now, 60 students attend school to learn primary education. He, along his wife Mumtaz, serves the tribal village and has written their life to the service of this village. The forest department is now supporting him and encouraging more such work in the area. Not only this, he has also started Ecotourism in his tribal village to make community self reliable and lift them economically and socially.

What a wonderful contrast! In a world where our country is seeing terrible hatred between two communities, especially Hindu and Muslim, we see a Muslim man serving 100 Hindu families. In a world where there is growing hatred for Muslim community and they are being targeted as terrorists, there is this man who has given up all his luxuries of life and sitting deep in the forest and doing the work that Indian Government and all of us should have done.

One community cannot be terrorist, maybe a few from them but definitely not all. We need to change our mindset and understand the real meaning of terrorism and people associated with it. Muslims—the real ones—round the globe are doing awesome work and Mustukhan is the best example I have come across in India.

Salute to this unsung hero and please visit this beautiful pristine tribal village once in your life!

Please Behave, Cabin Crew Is Like A ‘Sky-Mother’

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Thousands of youth dream to become a cabin crew and make their dream come true with one of the major airlines. It’s a dynamic profession that offers countless opportunities for personal and professional growth. Their office is the clouds, high up in the sky.

The role of a cabin crew derives from that of similar positions on passenger trains, but it has more direct involvement with passengers because of the confined space on aircraft. From a distance, it seems that they don’t do much other than looking beautiful, being elegant and traveling the world. But there’s another side. A closer look into their lives can provide a flip perspective of what is visible.

I haven’t traveled much in airplanes or have many friends who work for an airline. I just have one college friend who is working for British Airways since many years. And don’t ask me this; obviously, she beautiful. So much that all the college must have been after her in those days.  I have a deep regard for her because she worked really hard for it and made it; as per her dream. I think her sister and brother-in-law also works for some airlines.

I like to meet her, again and again, but she’s always on the ninth cloud—always traveling the world.

There are quite many advantages of becoming a cabin crew—traveling to lot of new places, getting good travel discounts, meeting new people, it’s a glamours job; after all ,and in my personal opinion, the cabin crew gets the best looks; like a film/sport celebrity. I have even observed people perpetually checking—women cabin crew—them from top to bottom.

On the flip side, there might some downside to all the glamour and hard work. It might be quite hectic with all this traveling to different places with different climatic conditions. They might be missing friends or family as they’re always working and away from home. They might be having difficult times with partners because it’s almost like having many lives. One sure thing I have noticed is the way some, or most, people treat them on the flight.

I don’t travel much but whenever I travel I observe people and how they treat the cabin crew. Some are really rude and think that the cabin crew is a servant from the colonial period. The best example is of the mobile phone. The cabin crew keeps requesting to switch off the phone but almost no one does it before being personally told twice-thrice.

Once, I was returning from Thailand, and this group was constantly asking for liquor and misbehaving with one of the cabin crew. She was so polite and compassionate but the group wouldn’t listen to her at all. They littered all around in the airplane and called her again and again.

I know that I can’t do much to change the way people treat the cabin crew but all I know is that I can BE THE CHANGE. I have made some kindness rules for myself. As I  enter the airplane and greet all the cabin crew members on the way to my seat. I put on the seat belt as I sit. I switch off my mobile phone. I listen to all the instruction they give before taking-off. While we’re flying, I silently wait for my turn to ask for food. And I always check their names and call them by their name with a smile.  I have seen people, in 21st century, snapping fingers to call one of the cabin crew. After landing, I wait for my turn to get out and quietly hand a small Thank You card to the person standing near the exit. I usually get down last so that I have a minute to share my gratitude to the cabin crew. And believe me, that smile on their face is priceless!

The cabin crew is like our mother when we’re on the skies, flying.

They live a tough life, like we do, this is why it takes a special, understanding kind of person to be close to a cabin crew. And just dig deep. What does it actually take? A little set of manners, politeness and a pinch of gratitude. Is it too much?