Saturday, March 17, 2012

Divas 198: There are different levels of happy.

We set out for Pune before sunrise today, first frozen by chilled showers and then warmed by delicious vegetarian tikki breakfast sandwiches. We arrived after a two-hour nap at Yashwantrao Chawan Academy of Development Administration (Yashada).

After a very quick cup of tea, we embarked on our first site visit, to Lexicon Management Institute. Their administration seeks to imbue students with values of honesty, love, service, and beyond, in addition to training them in management.

Papa was asked to give a speech in front of the students, during which he revealed the impact Gaikwad Uncle has had on his life. Then, Gaikwad Uncle shared his belief that changing the world must start with changing oneself. As we were leaving, the school's administration honored the three of us on stage.

We sped back to Yashada for three back-to-back one-hour meetings in Marathi, of which I understood hardly a third. The discussions covered slum sanitation and solid waste management in slums, so it was a pity that my attention span couldn't last long enough to fabricate possible translations in my Hindi-speaking head.

I was all too happy when we made our way to lunch at one of Atul Uncle's Marriots, the 500th to be constructed in the world! We enjoyed a traditional Rajasthani meal in snazzy surroundings -- Varsha Auntie and I caught up while Atul Uncle made fun of my bookworm-ish looks, never prying his attention away from his phone. :)

We then dropped by the Deshmukh residence, giving us a bit of time to chat with Uncle, Auntie, and Didi -- but not enough! I've friended the latter on Facebook and look forward to talking further and keeping in touch.

We were soon joined by Baralay Uncle, shortly followed by Dolly Bhua and Abhishek Bhaiya. So many splendid family members in one day! We had long promised to visit Dolly Bhua's new house, so we sauntered up the street and gaped at their lovely new home.

Upon entering the front gate, I was reunited with my best friend! I remember playing with this precious child four years ago and praying she would never forget me.

2007                                                                    2012

I've promised to return to Pune soon to give Riddhima tips on growing her hair out (irony). I've also now promised three families that I'll stay with them on my next visit to Pune -- guess I'll need at least three days. Yikes!

I tore myself away from some of my favorite people to return to the Marriott for the "real" reason we came to Pune -- a conference on business incubation. Gaikwad Uncle, the guest of honor, gave the opening address before we slipped out to once again hit the road.

We're now on our way back to Mumbai, and I can't wait to return here!

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