Saturday, September 22, 2018

Incredible India

MY JOURNEY to India has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Overwhelming all throughout, I don't even know where to begin.

In this trip, I was accompanied by my good friend and our chapter’s Secretary General, Vahjna Mae Babia. We went there to represent the chapter on January 29, 2018 for a collaborative project with one of the JCI chapters there. Another reason why I visited India was my desire to experience a totally different culture and to explore more of this exotic and diverse country.

Our first stop was Mumbai. We were astounded by their rich culture and religion, their temples, colonial and historical buildings and the intricate details of their architecture despite the heavy traffic. The Iconic scene of The Gateway of India and the breathtaking structure of Taj Mahal Palace Hotel were some of the highlights in Mumbai.

We toured the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the city’s most extravagant Gothic building with influences of British Victorian, Hindu and Islamic styles that blend seamlessly together.

We also traversed the Marine Drive and the Prince of Wales Museum. We even passed by the Antilia, a 27-storey house owned by the richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani.

Our last stop was at the mansion of Shah Rukh Khan, one of India's biggest celebrities in Mannat’s Lands End. Khan was surrounded by fans from all over the country who all just wanted to catch a fleeting glimpse of the nation's heartthrob.

The next day, we went to Goa for our most awaited JCI Trainings and Projects. The JCI Mormugao Port Town (MPT) Chapter President Shashikant Lamani, together with his members, welcomed us with a banner upon our arrival at the airport. It was our first time to meet them but we felt like we’ve known each other for a long time. It felt like being reunited with family.

We stayed at Pereira Villa, owned by their past State President. That same day, we conducted the Active Citizen’s Framework and Project Planning Training at Hotel Lapaz Garden, attended by 30 participants from JCI MPT and other chapters in Vasco de Gama.

During the first few minutes, I was very nervous since it was my first time to conduct a training, not just locally but internationally. Seeing their excited faces and genuine smiles calmed me. We felt like celebrities there because of the endless photo ops and the attention that they gave us.

During our second day in Goa, we implemented our joint projects: the Napkins for Teens grand launching and the Bulsita goes to India . We donated and turned over a sanitary napkin vending machine for the high school girls of St. Joseph Vaz College, and also distributed school supplies and hygiene kits which were inside the brown paper bag (bulsita). Looking at their big smiles, seeing them so happy welcoming us with their whole hearts made us feel so fulfilled and accomplished. It brought an impact not just to both of our chapters but also to our lives. It made us realize more that service to humanity is really the best work.

Our stay in Goa really offered us so much: their old convents and churches most especially the Basilica Bom Jesus where we can find the tomb and mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, their fine multi-cultural cuisine, breathtaking scenery, beautiful sunsets by the beach, colorful houses, and establishments set in old Portuguese buildings. It is naturally beautiful and culturally fascinating destination. There is so much to see, do, experience and learn, that it would take a lifetime to see it all.

I love everything about India, It opened up a whole new world. I love how this whole experience brought me inner peace and love. I was filled with such humor, energy, and intensity of the people and their smiles. I love how they love LOVE: there are no in betweens, no compromise. It was an INCREDIBLE INDIA experience indeed.