What is that one day you remember as being the most hectic and yet having had the most amazing time?
Never give up because that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
– Harriet Beecher Stowe
This past Sunday was one such day for me. I had been cooped up at home for past few days and was moping around at the lack of action in my life. With no job, no boyfriend, no friends close by, I was living what I call ‘a boring existence’.
My phone reminded me that I had 4 events to attend on Sunday. “Yeah… sure,” I muttered as bored and disinterested as ever and swiped left.
Just then, my friend called me and informed me that she would pick me up for the first event, which was an early morning marathon I had agreed to volunteer at. “Okay,” I said, already ruing the fact that I would have to wake up early.
I remembered that there were other events too, scheduled throughout the day.
One was a get-together of strangers interested in telling and listening to stories. Jasleen, the organizer had already messaged me the event details earlier and now I cursed the moment when I had confirmed my participation.
A second one was a workshop on storytelling techniques that was organized in close vicinity of Jasleen’s event. This one I was vaguely interested in since I was a story-teller, albeit using the medium of writing.
The last event was my School’s reunion and I had no inkling of who I would meet and if any of my long-lost friends would actually attend.
Come Sunday, I am awakened from deep slumber by Mom. She tells me it’s 5:00 a.m. and that being a ‘Volunteer’, I have to get ready for the marathon. My friend who was also the daughter of one of the core organizers had already spoken to my mother and conspired with her to make me attend the event at any cost. I grunted and growled but got out and got dressed anyway.
As I stepped out, the dull, dreary day told me to dive right back into bed. The lack of sunlight made it seem like it was still night. The attractive colours and bright designs of my warm blanket came to mind.
A minute past the appointed time and I decided that she was late in picking me up. I turned around to walk back home when I heard incessant honking. There she was waving at me madly.
What’s with the excitement, I thought grudgingly.
We reached the venue and the sight before me astounded me no end. The ground was buzzing and bustling with activity. It literally shook me out of my slumber. Eyes wide open, I surveyed the scene around me.
Joggers stretched and flexed their arms and legs in every corner. Runners were spot jogging in an attempt to warm themselves up. Kids, teenagers, adults, couples, all milled around me. A frail man with silver hair was throwing punches in the air. A thin girl dashed past me. A young lady with a stroller glared at me, noting my jazzy t-shirt and smart jeans. I looked around and decided I was definitely living that nightmare where one of the guests turns up at a party in a fancy dress costume and everyone is dressed in casuals. Here, it was me in smart casuals while everyone else was in sportswear. I quickly grabbed the branded t-shirt and the volunteer batch that my friend’s father handed over to me. I pulled on the t-shirt over my jazzy one and felt better instantly. My friend and I stared down at the volunteer tags we were handed out and burst out laughing.
‘Medical Personnel,’ it announced.
A round of selfies followed after which we went about cheering on the runners. Those who we knew personally were wished an extra round of good luck. Soon the race was flagged off and we set out to take a stroll down the marathon route, to dutifully fulfill our responsibilities. Fortunately, no runner or jogger needed any medical attention. Also, trained professionals were already stationed at various points all along the route for those in actual need of medical help. The rest of the morning passed by in a blur and I rushed back home to change and leave for the second event of the day.
By now, the enthusiasm had rubbed off on me and I looked forward to what the rest of the day would unfold.
I reached the venue of the meet-up and found only the organizer and a few other participants already there. I was intrigued and wary of meeting a bunch of strange men and this being Delhi, I already had my guard up. I expected this to be another boring group discussion about vague topics like Delhi’s odd-even rule, Stalin’s life and Hitler’s Nazism and other inane topics that bore me to death.
Surprise, Surprise! Jasleen had lined up some very interesting activities and that triggered off a very enlightening and enriching discussion that continued for the next 2 hours. I ended up losing track of time, as I chatted and listened. Our discussions ranged from the need to follow our dreams to the life and hardships of Tibetan refugees and even Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I admit I spoke more than listened. Apologies, Prateek and Shivang! I even interrupted Shivang twice, just to add my two pence opinion to his pound worth of thoughts.
Shivang is an amazing computer software professional who has dared to break free (like, me!) and has developed a Chrome app that displays an interesting quote on your browser instead of the new tab page. It’s called ‘New Motivational Quotes’ and can be downloaded from the Chrome store. Thank you, Shivang!
I have already installed the extension on my browser and was thrilled when this quote came up on my screen. I pumped my fist in the air and told myself,”Yes, I can. I am a writer and I can write well. I will publish a book very soon. Yes, I can and I will.”
Another amazing person I met at the same event was a very inspiring lady, whose family owns the legendary United Coffee House at Connaught Place. An iconic restaurant and older than ‘Independent India’, UCH or Coffee House, as it often called, is a heritage landmark and occupies a place of pride in the streets of Delhi and the hearts of Delhi-ites. She chose to step away from the family business because while it increased the bank balance, it did nothing for the happiness ratio. It surprises me that for someone with her wealth of knowledge and experience could be made to feel worthless and an under-achiever. And yet, she narrated a recent incident where someone made her feel exactly that.
I am sorry about the narrowmindedness of that person and on behalf of all ‘house-wives’ and ‘non-working women’, I salute you for your courage in following your passions, for daring to step away from things that didn’t satisfy the hunger in you.
She is also a stupendous story-teller and upon our urging, she told us a beautiful, inspiring story about a king, his three wives, and their princely sons.
“Once upon a time…” She started and we thirty-year-olds became kids again as we sat around her rapt and mesmerized. It was the best story I had heard in a long time.
Ma’am, you may not have had a job all your life but please know you left a lasting impression on all of us who met you on Sunday.
And that is what should define us. The impact we leave on people; the difference that we make to their lives; not the designation on our business cards or the name plates outside our cubicles.
Thank you, for being a part of my life, Sheba Ma’am.
I met a few other amazing people too – a hotel sales professional (We exchanged notes and had a good laugh about the hectic, high-pressure life of a hotel sales professional), an aspiring filmmaker, an entrepreneur – all of whom inspired me in their own unique ways.
Thank you, Jasleen for doing this meet-up.
All of you Delhi-ites who are interested in being a part of this group please let me know so I can put you across to Jasleen. Or, you could also check out the website that she has single-handedly designed – http://qwertythoughts.com/. As they claim on their Facebook page (and very rightly so) : Not just another viral content site, we are a thoughtful lot!
From here, I headed off to another story-telling workshop at Janpath, where I learnt how to use my personal experiences in the craft of story-telling. Agreed that I am a writer and not a story-teller but the panel discussions and the question-answer session that followed, was just as relevant for someone like me. I even learnt the technique of visual memory and how to implement it more effectively. Here, I had two blogger/writer friends to give me company. Thanks for joining me at the last minute, Surbhi and Akash!
Barely had the session ended that I rushed to a place that had been my second home for 12 years – my alma mater, my school. As I walked in, a sense of nostalgia enveloped me. I was still apprehensive since I had no inkling of who or how many of my long-lost friends would meet me there. The first person I bumped into was a very close friend who I had lost touch with over the years. It was she who recognized me and we hugged and shrieked just like we had every morning 15 years ago.
After that, the evening that unfolded was the best one I had had in a long time.
Memories came flooding back, as we strolled around in our school grounds and corridors.
I could see us walking out the hall in a single file, after morning assembly or sitting on the periphery of the basketball court in the afternoon, watching inter-house basket-ball matches.
Strains of the Christmas carols being played as we decorated our classrooms, mixed with with resounding cheers of jubilation at winning inter-school matches played in my head. On one corner, my friend was dragging and pushing a very reluctant me towards the assembly hall, while on the other end, we were furiously revising for our final exam.
I saw Sister Taurina, my principal, walk towards me and, as always, was tempted to flee in the opposite direction when I noticed a bright, glittering board sway in the wind. It said Diamond Jubilee Reunion Celebrations. That brought me back to the present moment. I had tears in my eyes as I returned her smile and rushed forward this time.
No, this wasn’t just the best evening I had in a long time. It was the best evening I had in a decade.
In fact, this was the best day of 2016!
If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
– Jim Rohn
I am glad I found a reason to attend each event, as the learning has been immense. Each event and interaction has enriched my life and I shall remember this day for a long time.
Thank you all for being a part of my day and my life.