The Indian Embrace

A lesson on hospitality. 3/19/17

Our first night in Goa we were picked up by a private car and taken out by an older Goan couple who we were connected to through one of Zach's friends from college. This couple is actually the brother of the woman whom we reached out to that was out of town, who was a friend of Zach's friend from college's husband. Yea. How's that for six degrees of separation. 

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This Goan couple sent a private car to pick us up an hour away on the northern point of Anjuna Beach, drive us to the more luxurious part of Goa (lesson learned on where to stay🙄), and sat us down to a traditional Goan meal at one of the best restaurants in the area. Geary, the gentlemen, greeted us with a kiss on the cheek and immediately began educating us on Goan culture, etiquette, and cuisine. Our feast lasted a few hours with our conversation reaching levels as though we have known each other for a few months. Our greeting back into the spiritual promise-land was so very welcoming. And would begin a week of an Indian lesson on hospitality.

In Mumbai we were invited to a new friends' home that we met while in Ahmedabad. That new friend, Jayesh, is the man who interviewed us and shared our story on social media regarding volunteering overseas. Jayesh and his wife sent a private car to pick us up, yet again, an hour away from our hostel in the city center. On arrival to their home in the western suburbs of Mumbai, Jayesh and his wife immediately embraced us as though we were family. Guests of high stature. People of great importance. They offered us appetizers and wine. A tour of their beautiful home. An incredible twenty course (okay I might be exaggerating here - but it was at least ten courses!)... an incredible ten course traditional Gujarati meal. Lessons on Indian culture, etiquette, arranged marriages, and lifestyle. The conversation was so profound. It was not small talk of surface level nature. Questions typically seen as taboo were posed in a nature of discovery. Topics of discussion were on what each of our individual beliefs were on God, on religion, on life after death, on what one gains from travel, on the poor versus the rich. On first impressions and stereotypes of arriving to India. Topics of substance. Indians are people of depth. I've said that before when in Ahmedabad. They are people who are so raw through to their core, who are intrigued by digging into topics that are taboo. They are people who challenge you to think deeper, speak clearer, and bring something to the table. 

Our last night in Mumbai we were offered another home cooked meal. We were invited by a group of young woman whom we had never met to eat dinner with them at their home and NGO center. Kranti, the organization in Mumbai was connected to another volunteer we connected with through volunteering at Seva Cafe in Ahmedabad. On our way to this dinner we had no definite expectations just curiosity. We met with two very young looking girls in front of a police station who walked us back through a series of very condensed and populated Indian alley ways. Their center and place they lived was in the very back. About fifteen young women live in this small center/apartment. They were so excited to have guests they spent two days cleaning. They laughed and apologized for a "mess" (though we did not find any discomfort whatsoever), because living with so many young girls is messy. This - I know, ha! We sat down in a traditional Indian manner. Eating in a circle on the floor. Dinner was served in a large communal iron pot without utensils (though, Zach and I graciously accepted spoons as we have not mastered eating with our hands). We were honored to be given Pav Bhaji- a traditional dish known to Mumbai that we had not yet tried. It was delicious. I told the girls that I wished I had offered to help them cook, as I wanted to learn to cook Indian meals. They said next time. Next time. There will be a next time 😉😊. Before dinner the girls told us a bit about what they are doing. They perform a Hindu play that depicts the reality of Indian lifestyle. The play, to my current understanding, is based on the true story of one of the girls growing up in India and watching her mother work as a sex worker. About a year ago these girls created an opportunity for themselves to go to the States to perform their play across multiple cities. The story is chilling. Up until the day before their intended departure, they did not have funds to secure their flights. The day before a man who was told about their intent wrote a check for $6,000 to get them to the States. On arrival to the States the girls realized they had no money to eat. None of them had thought about the monetary necessities once arriving. A donor who saw their first play in New York City wrote them a check for $3,000 to feed them as long as it would last. Their story continued traveling through the United States of America by people making donations of meals at IHOP, and deli's and so forth. These fifteen young women got the opportunity to travel to the USA and share their true authentic life story and were carried through by donors who had just met them. It's incredible. It's an incredible oath to the law of attraction. It's an incredible testimony to manifesting your destiny. 

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We sat there and listened to their stories and observed their personalities for a few hours. I love the Indian culture. They have so much personality, so much attitude, so much spice. They are so filled with love.

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We have contacts in New Delhi whom we've never met already awaiting our arrival. 

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We are very fortunate. For this incomparable Indian embrace. 

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-AS @travelingsnow


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