Friday, December 2, 2011

The Swagat (Greeting)!

Arriving at our first tour city was no less than being greeted for a wedding...
After travelling 12 hours by train and 3 hours by bus, we finally stumbled off our rough leather seats, as our ears rang with the
sounds of dhol, cymbals, and drums played by the most adorable students from the hostel that would be our home for the next 4 days of our tour. The kids grabbed our bags from our hands as they applied tikka (a red powder) to our foreheads - a special swagat (greeting) for our arrival.

India First Foundation (IFF) boarding school was built about 2 years ago with the same pillars of love, humility, oneness, and the desire to serve that uphold Manav Sadhna today. The place was lush with greenery and fauna surrounded by picturesque mountains in a remote city about 3 hours from Bombay know as Karjat.

Each detail of the campus was designed with the kid's optimal learning environment in mind. From the detailed art on the walls of the buildings, to the listeded ingredients and nutritional value of food cooked in the canteen (which was the best cafeteria food I have ever had by the way!), to the map of the world with the spice route noted - We were in awe of the school.

Despite these beautiful amenities, the IFF kids and staff truly practiced their instilled values of oneness as they took in each new stranger with love and invited us into their homes and shared their beds. In a matter of a few hours, our kids were no where to be found as they were fully immersed in the company of their new friends. If we got lucky enough to catch a glimpse of any of the children with their new buddies, each child ensured he or she stopped what they were playing to say, "Pranam" (A respectful greeting to elders). They were walking examples of the fantastic values IFF teaches.

You know is something right when it is so easy for two different worlds to come together in a matter of minutes and immediately feel like one big family! Our Co-Founder, Jayeshbhai, is a trustee of the IFF school and his life is an example of goodness in human form. He is the glue of IFF and Manav Sadhna and this first night in Karjat only reinforced his widespread effect on any world he touches. Life in this world is like that in a dream - Love, happiness, and humility in one spot - Truly heaven on earth.

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