For the last week and a half my mantra has been “keep it local and keep it social”. I haven’t travelled far from my computer (as the submission deadlines are quickly approaching) but when I did choose to give my fingers a break, I managed to connect with some incredibly awesome people! I can’t express enough how stupendous people continue to show up in my life! It’s amazing when you’re living your passion and working on a project you whole-heartedly believe in, everything just comes together!
A CouchSurfer I contacted months ago when I first arrived in Pune, randomly appeared in my inbox last week. We met for a juice smoothie and since he supports my project, he put me in touch with some incredible women; one being a woman named Raha. After he briefly summarized her testimony, I knew that I had to meet her. So the next morning I phoned Raha and without hesitation, she insisted Ash and I come to her place that Saturday for a traditional Iranian lunch. Prior to our arrival, I had briefed myself about her journey by reading her thesis and prison letters (which she had sent to me the night before). BUT I was in no way prepared to hear the full version of her testimony that afternoon.
Raha is a native from Iran and a proud follower of the Baha’i Faith. What is a Baha’i? Baha’i Faith started 171 years ago and it’s an independent religion. The faith’s essential message is that of unity; believing all humans have been created equal. Yet, Baha’is are consistently oppressed in Iran. In fact, being a Baha’i is considered a crime. No matter a person’s race, religion, culture or belief we all want to live in peace and harmony, and be treated equally. Not be prosecuted, punished, imprisoned or possibly executed for our beliefs.
After a delicious lunch, Raha spent the next several hours summarizing her journey of the last 5 years. In short, in 2010 Raha was arrested by the Iranian government and spent 4 years in an Iranian prison all because of her faith. What happened in prison, and what she did while in prison, is quite possibly the most unimaginable yet inspiring thing I have ever heard! At one point when she excused herself to use the washroom, Ash and I sat motionless in silence. We were speechless—literally could not fathom what we had just heard. You will have to wait until the book is released to read her full story, but after hearing what she’s done, seeing the way she conducts herself today and how she chooses to live her life, in my eyes she’s a super hero!
Our discussion lasted until 7:00pm at which point the guests for the evening discussion group began to trickle in. Raha is currently a PhD student in Pune and twice a month she organizes a discussion group. The discussions are open to anyone and everyone, and basically the goal is to respectfully share and discuss perspectives about a particular topic. On Saturday, the topic was “non-violent communication”. Ash and stayed until almost 11pm and once home, sleeping wasn’t even an option thanks to the strong Israeli coffee and sugary sweets. Instead we crashed on the sofas; nursing our caffeine/ sugar headaches with more thought provoking discussion. Now that I’ve got Ash on a plant based diet and regular exercise regime, he understands how sensitive the body is to ‘junk’ food and fully gets what I mean when I say “…if I eat that I will have a sugar hangover”.
Two weeks ago, I mentioned to my Yoga teacher that we should have a gathering so that all the Yogis could meet outside of class. Seeing as I love to host parties, I suggested having a potluck at our place! For those of you who know me well, you know how much I love hosting parties and playing games! So last night, 10 of our fellow Yogis showed up at our place and I introduced them to my favourite party game called: “Minute to Win It”. Not surprisingly, the game was a hit and the house was roaring with laughter! [Note: If you have no idea what this game is, YouTube it] Our studio has Yogis from all over the world, so it was nice to sit face-to-face and chat since typically in class our interactions are mostly butt-to-face!
After lots of food, games and laughs, we started having a very interesting discussion about religion. Seeing as it was late, I again suggested that everyone return our place in a few weeks for a discussion night about the topic, and we’ll invite Raha’s discussion group as well! Everyone loved the idea, including Ash who just accepts that I’ve officially become his roommate and will likely continue to openly share our home with the world!
Once the guests had gone, the kitchen was clean and all the leftovers where warmly delivered to the building guards, Ash and I, once again, crashed on the sofas.
“Where would I be without my live-in life coach?!” he said (that’s what Ash calls me).
I smiled knowing he felt just as happy as I did in that moment.
“Did we ever meet some fascinating people this week” I thought.
As I sat there smiling I then considered . . .“Where would I be right now had I not pursued this ‘random’ book project idea?!”
“And I wonder how many ‘random’, but potentially amazing, ideas die with people each and every day all because they didn’t give it a chance?!”
After reflecting on this past week (and year) and thinking about all the amazing people that I’ve met and the experiences that I’ve had because of the path I chose to pursue thanks to this ‘random’ idea, I realized how miraculous life is!
Avicii said it best in the song The Nights “. . . One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember”.
No matter what happens, I know I will never forget this journey and there is no place in the world I rather be than here, giving this ‘random’ idea a chance to live!
Photos from our potluck!