'Stories from the Heart' with Uday-bhai
Love warriors Nimo and Udaybhai were in Pune recently to spread their magic. After addressing a 300 people gathering at the Teach for India gathering, they came over to The Urban Ashram to spend a day with us and I shared my intention of experimenting with 'Stories from the Heart'. Magically, a group of 6 friends organically came together to manifest my intention in the evening.
We all sat together in silence first for 30 mins, followed by a check in from all 6 of us about a recent moment of inspiration. We then read out the 4 qualities of an appreciative enquiry:
1) *Substance*: the question elicits an engaging answer, a story, not a one or two word answer;
2) *Genuine Curiosity*: you don't already know the answer to the question and you really want to learn about it;
3) *Integrity*: the question is something you'd be willing to answer yourself;
4) *Transformational*: the question draws upon and evokes a positive feeling; it's the difference between 'What's a problem you have?' and 'What strengths have you drawn upon to face challenges?'
Once everyone present got the gist of what we were attempting, we started the process of asking some deep questions to Udaybhai. What unfolded was a treat to the spirit. Here's a few excerpts of what emerged from the process:
1. Please share some stories of connections you have made with your customers
A lady needed a rickshaw ride at 5 am to the train station and was concerned about the finding a safe ride for herself and her two daughters at that hour. She had heard about me and called me to request a ride. I said yes. However since she lived in a part of town that I was unfamiliar with, I went over the previous night to find her house just to make sure that I could locate it at 4 am when there would be no one on the street to ask for directions. The lady was deeply touched by this episode and over a period of time, we became very close like family. Now, whenever she needs me I am there, just a call away.
Recently she and her daughters requested me to drive them to a reception which was far away and the possibility of getting a ricksha to go there and back was remote. I agreed and when we reached their destination, they insisted that I join them inside. When I hesitated to come in stating "I am not invited", they moved me with their love saying that "I am part of their family". They also said that If I didn't come in then even they wouldn't go! Finally I gave in and then they took me in by hand and introduced me to everyone as their brother, as well as had me join in the festivities..
2. How has your work influenced your 3 sons?
They are always observing me and learning by doing.. Everyday, I put away a portion of my first earning of the day from my ricksha in a container called "akshay-patra" the money saved is offered as a gift to someone else. When it is filled, I give it to my kids to count the money and then we collectively decide what we can do. Last month, we all cooked some 'pulao' and then we all went around and fed this to the homeless people on the streets..
3. Who have been the inspirations in your life?
Baapji, Ishwar dada, Jayeshbhai, Anarben and Seva Cafe.
4. What are some of the lessons from time with Ishwar dada?
Once you commit to some work, see it through.. Don't give up, don't step back no matter what the odds.. Keep at it.. Work with joy, and zero expectations. I was also at his bedside in the last days of his life and it was a privilege to see how peacefully he accepted his own mortality. There was a sense of peace around him that enveloped us all. He was pure courage even in the face of death.
5. Any stories of shift in the customers who ride with you?
One day a small time shop keeper from the old part of town got into my rickshaw. He was intrigued by the Akshay patra and asked me the story behind it. I shared the concept of daily small contribution as a powerful practice to think small, love big! He loved the idea and decided that from day onwards he too will put aside a small portion of his earnings to do good..
6. Are you approached by any of the other rickshawallas for advice.
Yes, all the time! I share that in my life money is not everything. The love and blessings of all the passengers that I receive far surpasses any material benefit i can gain from them. I trust that my needs will be taken care off and my family provided for. The divine runs my home!
The perception of rickshawallahs is not that good due to experiences of people feeling overcharged, as well the rude behaviour of the drivers to the passengers. I often share with my fellow drivers my intention to provide a positive experience to all their passengers. I trust that my intention will one day ripple out into changing this perception.
~ Love All, Serve All ~