Kindness on the Streets
This week, “Chai and Guitar” was born of the synergy of two regularly occurring late-night activities. Last Tuesday, during a circle of sharing, Madhu revealed that Sandeep, a Mam Movies intern for the past 18 months, regularly goes into Ahmedabad streets at night to play the music for strangers. Also, the Seva Café staff regularly celebrates birthdays and other events by serving chai into early hours of the morning to passing auto wallas, watch men and other night owls and workers. These two activities were meant to be brought together.
So, Wednesday, after a powerful Awakin meditation and sharing on the power of anger, eight friends, five liters of chai and a guitar hit the post-midnight streets of Ahmedabad.
Our cheery bunch quickly attracts crowds of passer-byers, stops auto wallas and serve up love-filled warm chai to anyone wishing to share in the moment. As some pour cups of chai, Sandeep settles to sing our guests’ favorite songs. Quickly everyone around joins into the singing, filling the cool night air with the warmth of the voices. From Love Aaj Kal to Raanjhanaa, Bollywood is in Ahmedabad that night.
As we offer chai to one kaka with his food cart, he asks “kitne paise” (how much?). In broken Hindi: “No paise. Dil paise.” (No money. Heart money.) Bhaskar comes to the rescue to provide a little more color in Gujarati while our friend enjoys his cup. As we begin to leave, the kaka insists on making us some food. While we explain that our chai is a gift with no expectation of anything in return, he counters by saying that his channa is also a gift with no strings attached. We part ways with song in our hearts and on our lips, and our stomachs full of each other’s love.
At a street corner a little further, we meet two street kids, aged somewhere around 5 to 8. Around another cup of chai, the gang, led by Meet, sits on the corner and chats with these kids. As we leave, the kids come with us and, for the remainder of the evening, serve the cups of chai to our blessed passer-byers. Until 1am, shining eyes are everywhere, fueled by music-accompanied loving chai served in unlikely interactions between these filthy happy street kids and the lucky benefactors of their gift.
~ More pictures here ~