Disclaimer: Names taken in the story below are true and belong to real human beings. The story bears an exact resemblance to the events that occurred. There are references to places* in the picturesque Art of Living international center, Bengaluru, India. The accompanying picture shows only a few members of the motley group. Gurudev (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) is a global peace ambassador.
I Meditate Africa is an inspiring movement that is spreading meditation as a means to spread peace in Africa. More details on this inspiring movement are available here.
Now, for the behind-the-scenes-story…
So ’twas again a fine day. And the sky was bright with the sun shining brightly. What a promising morning which slipped into afternoon so soon.
Hundreds in Africa were readying themselves for the I Meditate Africa event that was coming up in a few hours’ time.
The team in ashram was also gearing up.
2.5 hours before the event was to go live via web streaming, the team gathered at the venue. Hmmm most of them.
Just the night before, they finished testing at Badri Vishal* – and as luck would have it – just as soon as they wrapped up and reached home – they got a message that the webcast would happen from the amphitheater. After a few palpitations, quickening of the heart beat and much more – they decided to accept the moment as it was. And kept taking deep breaths to steady the rushing train of thoughts that emerged.
Well, through the course of the next day, the venue changed – and now it was Yagyashala* and lo and behold, the A team reached there in 2.5 hours ahead of good time.
Messages started coming in – as each one of the five centers in Africa signaled that they were live through private webcast and that each stream was steady and peaceful…yet…
30 mins before the go-live: it started raining cats and dogs. Alright, that was alright. Not something we haven’t seen before.
Then a rhythmic sound emerged – the pattering of rain, thundering actually – on the aluminium rooftop. As the sound grew, it became exceedingly challenging to just talk to the person next door. There went the carefully prepared MC script which was created to give the audience a perspective on the event and highlight the criticality of their participation.
Then began the hail! And how! Loud rumbling sounds emerged, the wind suddenly seemed to have gained momentum and everything started flying – with an increased onslaught of rain inside Yagyashala.
Neha and Harshal decided to clutch their laptops for dear life and crouched under a rickety wooden table – in a bid to protect the equipment. The chat support team opened umbrellas and protected their machines while answering queries. Resha ran to get cover from an wall – having decided to choose that opportune day to wear a floor length pink kurta – which promptly started running colour.
The carpet on Gurudev’s stage began lifting itself a few inches above the ground and fluttering crazily – enjoying the gusto.
Hmmm – this clearly wasn’t working.
15 mins to go live.
Quick decision to move back to venue one – Badri Vishala.
Drenched, urgently trying to seize whatever the hand could grasp – machines, umbrellas, wires, plugs – the motley group needed a ride.
The knight-in-shining vehicle was a delivery van standing outside Yagyashala.
Another trooper commanded the knight-in-shining driver to take us to our destination.
We trooped inside the van – thankfully clean with only a few empty ice cream packs on the floor. The others quickly trooped in and kept shouting for Harshal – who was frantically keeping his family of wires intact.
Finally – he took the seat of honour near the driver, an unknown benevolent soul who began the trek to Badri Vishal.
Trapped now in an envelope of darkness with light coming from two tiny rectangular spaces in the door, a low wail was heard. It was Divya: Can we have some sun please? I now know what bullocks feel like when they’re being transported.
Time check: somewhere between 6:20-6:25.
As we reached the final leg of the slope, a flurry of arms hit against each other, trying to prevent the natural sliding that was happening. Fun.
At last we reached Badri. We now needed someone to unbolt us. Clever. Our knight-in-shining driver came to the rescue once again and out we trooped, gliding through the wooden flooring.
We scrambled around in the room, moving furniture, removing equipment, hushing the darshan line in the adjoining room.
HB, what do you need: thundered Neha. He mumbled. Exactly two seconds later, Resha thundered: HB what do you need? He again mumbled. Back up dongle – where art thou?
Time check: past 6:30.
Gurudev walks in – getting the reports of Yagyashala and then looks at the drenched motley group. After sitting down, Gurudev asks: so why don’t we do this in Yagyashala? Resha froze into ice, Neha’s jaw dropped and fell to the floor, HB’s eyes became saucers while an eerie silence fell into the room for 2 seconds before a cascade of voices hastily rose to vote for the current set up.
Gurudev started IMA with greetings and was hastily cut. ‘One moment more,’ said the group.
At last it began. And the Kenyan delegation came in a bit.
Breathing became a little easier until … Another benevolent soul decided to put his phone on speaker close to Gurudev’s chair so that the Yagyashala crowd would hear the mediation too. Daggers in quick succession were shot at the benevolent soul as he beat a hasty retreat and went into a corner and continued his conversation.
The transcript halted as the typing was too loud, the door opened ever so lightly as someone trooped in, Gurudev continued and continued spreading the magic.
The meditation followed by the message.
Eyes became moist when Gurudev spoke to the prisoners. Tears rolled down Chetan’s face while he kept giving the thumbs up sign to signal all was well – every time his eyes met another’s.
Gurudev asked the Kenyan delegation to speak. Jani sprung up like an efficient clockwork toy, getting into action.
The delegates spoke and hearts kept opening … Some more.
Gurudev expanded time for us this day. It would seem impossible to reach the distance we covered and set up in 20 minutes amidst all the confusion.
After I Meditate Africa, Gurudev lightly danced to satsang, spread the magic with more knowledge, met two teacher groups and some more while we were struck by what happened and danced our way into recovery.
The event seemed so light amidst all the adventure and 2 hours later – we wondered: did it happen today? It seemed so long ago.
The magic that touched us still lingers somewhere within full hearts and minds filled with wonderment. What a wonder!