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Stories to warm your heart

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These stories are from my recent visit to what seemed to me & my hubby a magical place.

We were visiting India to see my parents & his. I have been nursing a desire to go to Rajasthan. A place we have never visited during our 35 years living in India. It holds a promise of romance. I don’t know quite why I think that way.

I want a month or so to truly explore Rajasthan and know it is going to be a while before I am able to do that. So I decided to sneak in a couple of days to see Jodhpur.

We stayed at Bal Samand Palace Hotel that is owned by Hh Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji Jodhpur

My cousin runs a travel business GeTS India so we knew we were in good hands! We were received at the Railway Station by his team and taken to the hotel. We were escorted to our room and in a few moments eagerly opened the door that led into the garden. My hubby visibly sighed as he sank into the chair on the verandah. “Wow” he said. We both sat there quietly soaking in the tranquillity. It is as though we were transported into a different world and everything slowed right down.

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Our driver was Prem Singh, a very well informed and philosophical guy. He was our self appointed guide and had many stories. These stories warmed my heart and is the reason for this blog. I would like to share them.

I hear that Maharaja Gaj Singh is a very generous man. In the days when kings ruled, villagers were required to pay “lagan” – a form of tax. This tax was intended to work as a social security; i.e., in times of drought, the money would be distributed to the farmers that would help when the income was not enough to sustain their families. Lagan obviously no longer exists. However in a recent drought, a bunch of farmers got together and approached the Maharaja. He spent his own money and got 40 water pumps installed so the farmers could water their fields and save the crops.

Today, this beautiful palace has been converted into a hotel. It truly is a magnificent creation that has been built with a lot of respect for the surrounding land.

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This is only one of the properties that has been converted into a hotel. The Maharaja is committed to develop tourism as a way to create opportunities for income generation for the people of Rajasthan. Jodhpur in particular, seems to stand apart. I did not notice any beggars on the street. I shared this observation with our driver. I had some left overs packed from our breakfast that I thought I may have been able to give to someone on the streets. There was none!!! It appears as though no one goes hungry in Jodhpur. People who have plenty to eat, will go and feed the few who don’t … they sit by the wall of the Railway Station. There is no need for them to go begging. They get fed!!!

We visited the Mehrangarh Fort which has a stunning collection of artefacts, paintings & collectibles from a long time ago. We enjoyed roaming the rooms and equally, loved the vibe. This gorgeous woman is a police constable. We met a few women – a couple of them were studying for a promotion. It was such a delight to see women who were ambitious for themselves. And other women, employed at the Palace Hotel, who were on a small wage and talked about their ambitions for their daughters, wanting to give them the best education.

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We left Jodhpur in a couple days. Our hearts full of hope. And joy. I am a dreamer, after all! I feel privileged to have met some other people who are too!

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Social Agenda

Shopping, Farmers, Local, Artisans… crazy foolish people striving for a better world

To live with an open heart… like a child. Unfettered. Simply curious. Innocent. And compassionate.

Well that bit, maybe not always 🙂

We are a crazy bunch. Some of us that is.

As a HR Director, I was constantly tracking for what is out there…. tripping with excitement about some of the wonderful stuff people were experimenting with to help people live life large. Be in tune with what they value. And partner with leaders and teams to do stuff that will create the environment for people to do their best work.

I loved it. I was also restless. Wondering what else was out there.

I fell into making soap a year or so ago…. and I think I keep falling deeper because it allows me to be curious. It makes me think about what I buy, from whom and when.

So if I was to Get off the dance floor for a bit, and be an observer, what would I see?

I would see me getting a bit tired of large organisations like J&J, P&G, Unilever seduce us into buying stuff with the promise of whatever it is that was seductive.

I would look at the guy standing at his stall in my local markets. Like, I would slow down, and linger. Appreciate the work that went into getting up early in the morning loading the car and putting their soul into making their space look inviting. They are just plants. These are the ones though that even I cannot kill.

This I know to be true.

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I would watch myself spending a bit more time with stall holders; getting to know them. Just curious. How do you make this. What is it about and then get pulled into their world for just a bit… Like Lindy Lawler who makes these beautiful pieces and tells a beautiful story that I can never say the same way. All I know is that there is a sense of abundance that is celebrated through her work.

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Sometimes though, I have to get a few things from a far away land. Ghana is where my Shea Butter comes from. Kwabena, who is the Managing Director of the company based in Adelaide, works with women’s co-operatives that work in the Zabzugu – Tatale district in Tamale located in the Northern part of Ghana. Traditionally it has been the women who go and pluck or gather the shea nuts. The women sometimes have to travel as far as 17 kilometres on foot and carry bags in excess of 40kgs on the heads whilst carrying their children on their backs.

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It is the same story with Neem Oil, where my dear friend introduced me to Agrocel, an organisation that works with the farmers to get us beautiful cold pressed Neem.

So here I am. Grateful to be surrounded by many many people who love me. Doing stuff that I am not ashamed of saying that I am not an expert in the domain. That I am learning. Having fun. And maybe, bringing some abundance into a few moments when people read the stuff I write or buy something to pamper themselves or a dear one.

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Inspiration, LIfe, Social Agenda

My Dad

My Dad is a romantic. Or he was one. Or so I thought. Now a days he is a wee bit disgruntled with the state of affairs in India.

Dad was a cop at a time when it was very corrupt. I say this in the past tense because I think it is getting better. The lesson that I hold dearest to my heart is when he took me into the home of a Muslim man in Khadia (the heart of the city in Ahmedabad, where riots got fuelled). He went to the heart of the matter. Got to know his constituents. And he was known for being able to stop communal violence.

He was also outspoken. And arrogant. Born to a rich family, his father who was a judge in Kapurthala sired him when he was 64 and died when Dad was very young. He became a cop because his mum wanted him to. I suppose he felt that he could choose. Though he never did!! He continued in the force and found creative outlets for his energy when he got sidelined for promotions.

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In the Reserve Police in Godhra and in Saijpur (Ahmedabad), he rallied the troops and got them involved in creative activities…. I remember the “mobile” fountain and police band that started getting commissioned for weddings. Outdoor theatre for the jawans, a co-operative society that would have people cooking delicious snacks for sale in the community.

He has touched many lives. He is retired now and has stopped coming to visit me in Australia because he claims he cannot travel anymore. Injuries from his days controlling violence …. that is the stuff that matters. But I still want my Dad 🙂

Today, he dispenses medicine to the women who come to our home to clean and cook. The woman who cleans the home for my parent’s neighbour is married to an abusive alcoholic. She came running up to mum to enlist her help. My mum was down in an instance chasing the hubby away.

I wonder why people in the neighbourhood reach out to my parents for help with tackling the difficult issues. I am grateful to them. And I am grateful to be part of this family that has defined who I am, how I view life and what I make of it. Most importantly, I have learnt to chase my dreams, however impossible. It is the cost of being arrogant. And also hungry and foolish 🙂

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