Bhav Yatra in Vijayawada
We head out to Vijaywada from Chennai covering a distance of almost 400 odd kms. in a day which is roughly an eight hour drive.
At Vijaywada, we were hosted by Dineshbhai and family. Dineshbhai is a businessman who owns 8 multi-brand clothing stores across 4 cities but a person whose heart is in service. His business expertise is all about his people. His success mantra is “This too shall pass”.
Vijayawada is a small city with different communities - Sindhi, Gujarati, Punjabi and mostly they belong to the business class. Dineshbhai is a very well known businessmen and has a clout of people around him from all the communities. These communities are known for donating to good causes and running different social organizations. He had invited groups of friends to discuss and explore more in the area of serving. We were surrounded by food, people and questions about the yatra and our purpose. We shared about our humble experiments of RAK’s, Karma Kitchen and other such projects. These endless conversations suddenly find respite when ViR brings his tambura and the kabir spirit flows. All of us become one with those flowing words and calm comes over.'
Kabir’s magic helped us all decide on hosting a Karma Kitchen as everyone was in sync with our sharing about it at various locations. All were happy at the emergence and were excited about it. This was the first time they were coming together and hosting something and exploring love in service to the collective without attaching their personal name to it. The day ended with physical tiredness but the soul was fresh.
Dineshbhai has lovely twin daughters who were keen on “doing something” and wanted to try RAK. So we headed out with juice, biscuits and bread to offer to anyone randomly. This was their first experiment and they had never spoken to strangers on the street before. With a little hesitation the first ice-breaker happened with a cart puller who was loaded with a tree that had fallen. He was so happy and his smile melted the girls. We went on for an hour offering food and juice to auto rickshaw pullers who had not got any work that day, rag pickers and a fruit vendor too. He was most surprised as he thought we wanted to buy something and here the twins Nidhi and Nikki were offering something something instead. It was a joyful hour for all of us and everything seemed just right.
We were then in one of Dineshbhai’s M&M stores. He shared his journey of taking over the business from his father and how he and his brother run the show. What struck with me was the way he treated all his employees. He has not taken any formal degree in HR but his human development skill comes naturally. He then shared a story of a boy who joined them as a peon. He was bright and hardworking so Dineshbhai personally trained him and now he is the manager of all 8 stores! What was even more striking was we saw that manager helping a customer select clothes at one of the counters. Upon asking him he said he loved connecting with people and sales gave him an opportunity to serve a long-term customer. His understanding in building trust-based network was something I had learnt in theory of HR but never seen in practice. This was again a proof that universe rewards people who operate with a sound value base, humility and genuine concern for all.
In the afternoon, everyone was bustling with Karma Kitchen preparations and a group of friends who were keen to offer themselves to serve.
This reminded me of all the Karma Kitchens we had hosted in the past and I started missing all my friends in that moment. Time and again I have experienced coming alive by cooking, serving and spending those moments with the guests. The magic was created one more time in no time and we were all chatting like good old buddies at the Gurudwara kitchen. The evening unfolded with around 30 guests and kids who stay at the Gurudwara, multiple sharing circles where everyone poured their hearts out. At night I was in wonder of the evening that had transpired - a space that was moved by love with everyone’s cup of gratitude overflowing. Amidst all this, we got a chance to hold a satsang with Dinesh’s mom who is 60+. She shared about her guru and how “naam Jap”, chanting the name of lord brings her peace.
Varsha didi tagged us with food for the way and Dineshbhai tagged us with Rs. 10,000 to put it to good use. As this had not happened during the yatra so far, I felt a little awkward receiving it but there was a lesson for me to accept it humbly without differentiating much between tangible and intangible gifts. Before we left, ViR offered another round of Kabir satsang and as the words “kin sang sneh karah” flowed I closed my eyes and offered a prayer for this beautiful family and friends who became like sandalwood trees spreading the fragrance to whoever comes close by. We departed physically from there but everyone occupied a place in our hearts.