Smiles on the Streets of Surat
[Originally Posted by Zeal Shah]
It all started when we met volunteers at the Surat retreat and their talks about their experience of spreading smiles and kindness to random people on streets inspired and inspired us to do a smile mob in Surat. We were 5 people firstly and together decided to execute the act on 13th of December. 13th December was a Sunday which was deliberately picked as the concept of U-Turn, which happens every Sunday in Surat where in a street of 2-3 kilometers is blocked and people do random activities such as dance, play, exercise, paint on the streets etc for about 2 and a half hour; therefore, U-Turn seemed a healthy platform to be able to connect with local public.
On 12th of December, we were very nervous and were thinking of postponing the mob, but our commitments to Swara di and Audrey kept us going!
We got many ideas, and then finally on 12th of December we had a talk with Swara di and Darpan bhai who helped us finalise and conclude upon a few ideas such as Smile posters, distributing chocolates and cards from the smile deck, and putting sticky notes with positive wishes for the day on parked vehicles. So that night we stayed up and finished all the poster making and stuff. Finally the next morning, when we reached the venue, we started off with sticking sticky notes (which was quite an easy task as it did not involve much interaction with people :P), but then, as we had to start showing posters and ask people to smile, and pull cards from the smile deck, it turned out to be most difficult task.
But, as we began, people's curiosity dragged them towards us and we asked them to pick a card from the smile deck and to complete the written task within 24 hours and eventually pass it on to somebody else to replicate it. We offered them chocolates and the mob turned out to be amazing. People were so surprised and smiling all around picking cards and clicking pictures with the posters and picking chocolates. After some time, people even started volunteering and our group expanded from 5 to 7-8 people! Within 45-50 minutes almost 4-5 smile decks were distributed with promises from people to fulfill the task and ask someone else to replicate it as well.
At times, we encountered people asking questions like, "Will you be observing us when we complete the task?" and I answered, "No! You will be observing yourself" and that changed their attitude and inspired them.
Some people also denied to do the task and a few were skeptical about our intention as to if any commercial aspect involved but that's all a part of it! We were happy to initiate and spread smiles and we know we gave our 100 percent. We knew our intention was to connect with people spread love, and that kept us proactive and hence we were able to keep going! It was a wonderful experience and all of us were actually "MOVED BY LOVE"! We eagerly believe to keep doing this mob with different ideas every Sunday and bring smile's on people's face and spread kindness.
Reflections from the Surat Smile Squad (:
Someone once said, 'You don't need a reason to make people smile,' and that is what today's morning was all about. Though I was a little tensed about not being able to convey the message properly to people, the confidence in my partners helped me regain that assurance. Though we were not sure whether everyone will do the activities that they got, but the satisfaction which we received after seeing a smile on their faces was a sight of relief And as AESOP reminds us that 'No act of kindness is ever wasted'. [Hetvi]
Honestly, when we first started out preparing the banners i didn't think it would work out...I thought we would be looking stupid standing like this on the streets and no one would bother to read the banners...but when we started out and stood holding the banners, I was surprised to see the response we got...It was unexpected for me...the experience was blissful, awesome and like never before...it felt like we were doing something for us which made us happy and satisfied rather than the people on the streets.I also learnt a lot about people's mentality...when we were asking the people to pick up the smile card and do the task written on it within 24 hrs, they rose the questions like what will get out of it...what is your hidden profit in it...we would just reply with a smile that our profit is your happiness and a smile on your face...I also felt like a celebrity and everyone passing by was clicking pictures of us...the experience was just inexpressible...beyond words...! [Bhavya]
When we reached, my brother and I started sticking well wisher notes on the car, bikes and scooty which were parked outside,I felt a bit awkward sticking notes as people were staring us while we are sticking.. After going in, we found a place with small pillars, where we stood and held the posters and Zeal didi, Khushi didi and two of her friends distributed smile cards and chits which were to be done within 24 hours and have chocolates with them.. In the beginning, no one came as they felt doubtful and we also felt obstructive. We wondered what would people think while we were holding banners and posters standing on pillars... Many thoughts came to my mind saying, we look like cartoons standing on pillars holding posters, no one would come to see the smile cards and no one would do that, but then too I held posters clearing all the thoughts in my mind and just smiling. After 2-3 minutes, people started coming toward us and getting along. People clicked photos of us and even took posters from us to click their photos with smile posters. We stood there until we ran short of smile cards and chits and convened at home with lots of happiness and proudness and decided to go there every Sunday with new ideas every time!! [Kyari]
Reached U-Turn later than what we had planned last night. Though we went with all our resources. Everybody stood with Smile posters and I had the chits and chocolates with me. At first no one approached us, so I began talking to people. Gradually people started coming. They took a chit and read it and smiled. I kept shouting - "Pick a chit, whatever is written do it in the next 24 hours and pass the chit forward to someone else". More people gathered... Riya, Hetvi and Zeal joined me with Smile cards which they had. People started coming and asking us. We told them. Some of them were so happy and gave us their blessings. It felt good to do something. [Khushi]