At 7am the platform at the Ahmadabad train station was bustling with the noises - From the laughter of children to the sobbing of parting families and the echoing of the morning station chai and biscuit walas (tea/biscuit sellers) - It seemed all of the city had gathered at gate 3 of the station that hour.
16 kids with matching backpacks that had white embroidered names sewn to the front, 16 matching red suitcases, and a smorgasbord of staff members of all ages and sizes - It was quite the scene if you happened to be people watching that morning!
Before we knew it, the train whistles chimed in our ears as we rolled our bags onto the compartment that would become our stomping ground for the next 12 hours as we began our fabulous journey to spread love and unity to our first destination, Karjat.
The joy the kids brought into the train began spreading the minute we got on as they shared seats with those who had forgotten to, or were unable to, reserve seats for themselves. Sanjay decided to squish himself between Vishal and Devram as he tapped the Kaka (elderly man) standing besides him and asked him to take his seat politely - The Kaka was delighted and kindly blessed Sanjay by touching his head.
Two of our staff members, Sunilbhai and Shirshbhai, bumped into some musically talented children on the train who were making music by hitting slates of marble together. It was a beautiful phenomenon as they ran through the different train compartments with joyful faces and contagious laughter taking their music with them. Its amazing to see the happiness music can bring to people's faces - In whatever form it comes. After showering them with hugs and familiarizing them with our family, we began giving them some lessons on general hygiene as they seemed they could benefit from the conversation. Sunilbhai started them on their understanding of cleanliness by cutting their nails while explaining how all the dirt from their nails would go directly into their food and stomachs causing sickness if not cleaned. Later they were joined by Nimeshbhai who directs the Ekatva project, aka Mustache Mom to the kids! He put his rapper hat on and together he and the kids created music that got the whole train up and excited dancing the hours away!
As our new musically talented friends got off the train at their stop, we could hear them screaming goodbye for minutes after our train began its departure to the next stop. They ran and ran alongside our train until they could see us no longer from the tracks. They were happy and you could see it in their eyes. Someone treated them like kids and showered them with love - That's all they ever ask for.