I lived technology free for five days. By living technology free I mean I traveled solo without using a phone, camera and internet! I do not want to tell which place I go to when I need to be with myself. However, I am always here to share my experiences and more so how I felt. In these five days, about 9 hours- spread over two days, I spent volunteering. Getting up at 4.30 in the morning, I was present at the western canteen where I assisted in making sandwiches for 1000 delegates who were a part of an international conference. (Western canteen- the place I remotely talk about serves food which foreigners are used to eating. It is not spicy, bland unlike the food we are used to eating in India. Volunteers from all across the world come here to help in cutting fruits vegetables, making meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are cookies, salads, desserts, exotic vegetables, pizzas and pastas among many other dishes that are available here at a subsidised rate- with just bearing the minimum cost of food. For example a cookie in Starbucks that would cost me 150 bucks or more, is served here for Rs 12.)
The place was full of love and life. LOVE ALL, SERVE ALL was written in bold with lots of pictures of previous volunteers. While I was doing seva, I followed the message written on the wall. I could resonate with it strongly. While, I came back to my reality- living in a world where I constantly use technology, I made this my motto in life, at work and everydayness. A lady I met from Paris helped me joined the dots with Seva.
Meeting Paris in a small town
While I was eating a meal at the western canteen, I asked the same lady if I could also volunteer. She said, of course and asked the head chef about the same. After a conversation between the two of them, I was given my apron and was told to come at 5.30 am the next day.
I was elated with the idea of volunteering. Having done it before, I knew I would love it! Next morning, I was amidst people from London, Italy, Mexico, Paris and several other countries. Perhaps, I was the only one from India at that point of time.
Spreading the message- Love All, Serve All
Eventually, I got talking to the lady from Paris. I learnt her name was Bridget who seemed to be in her 50s. She either wore a salwar kameez or a saree. The day she arrived in India, the Paris terror attack had taken place. She was clueless about the aftermath in Paris and fellow volunteers told her about it. At that point, she did not even know if her loved ones were safe. Incidentally, a day before the terror attacks, the auditorium had had a program by the people of Paris.
I could not even imagine what she must have been going through-being away from her family. A time when she needed them the most. She said her daughter lost a friend in the Paris terror attacks. All I asked her was how everyone was. Maybe, I should not have asked. It seemed I opened up her wounds. I, in no way was able to console her when she started sobbing. After some time, she kept mum. I was able to say only one thing to her. “Maybe we all should spread the message written on the wall- LOVE ALL, SERVE ALL”.
I have lost my loved ones in life- but never in a mishap. I would want to empathise but perhaps, what I have is mere sympathy? The hatred in the world- I do not understand it. If each one of us remains happy and spreads happiness- the world would be a better place to be in.
I kept bumping into Bridget. I seemed to have a connection with her or it at least seemed like it to me. I was in my best spiritual self, something that I ignored all this while in my life. I hope when I turn 50, I can be as strong as Bridget was.
What kept Bridget going? Love. Selfless love. Volunteering.
Probably, everything you read about living without technology is related to mysticism. Perhaps, some over doze of philosophy. But at the end, that is what keeps me going and that is the truth I learnt. As the metal band Metallica said in one of their songs- Nothing else matters.
Paris is everywhere. Terror is everywhere. But love is everywhere too. It takes time to figure that out. Let it come to you… Depends on what side we are and what we want to see . As Madonna, the popular singer said- We only see what our eyes want to see.
It amazes me how travel and conversations take you to a different world sometimes. Coming back, never feels the same! To each one of us out there, it is your journey, make it count.
Disclaimer: I am in no way romanticising what happened in Paris. It cannot be romanticised. Paris for me, is not a romantic place. I have kept mum on my opinions on the Paris attacks, as I did not do anything to help Paris- the one which is around all of us. (Killing in the name of terror). I do not understand terrorism or hatred that makes a human being kill another. These are my opinions and thoughts based on my interactions with someone.