The amount of extraordinary stories I have failed to capture in writing are in the hundreds. Since they appear to keep flowing whether I am caught up or not, I may as well just catch them as I can. Good luck trying to make sense out the randomness. :)

I told Mark I was heading out to go get us a rickshaw for the full 43 days.

43 days? You mean I’m telling you the rickshaw story now and I haven’t even introduced the idea? How will I ever catch up?

Just to sum it up, Mark and I are planning to soon hit the streets of Ahmedabad to give everything that we can for 43 days. The reason for 43 is that Ahmedabad is divided into 43 wards, or sections. By spending one day in each ward, we are able to give of ourselves to the city as a whole – to the rich to the poor, to all – to convey the message that our efforts are aimed at everyone in Ahmedabad. There are no exceptions. If you are in A’bad, this is about YOU.

mainhoonna_4And what are we planning to do? We’re planning to give in every way we can. Since trash is pretty much everywhere, picking up trash will be our default activity. We can also sweep the streets indefinitely. From there, we would like to branch out, cleaning public toilets, teaching and playing with kids, clipping finger nails, carrying bricks, shelling peas, you name it. Our message is simple: “Main Hoon Na,” which translates into a comforting “I am here, no?” Its meaning is twofold. First, it conveys a care and comfort. Secondly, it conveys the idea that we are all here right now. Each of us can take action in the present moment. Plus, it was the name of a popular film, so the phrase is widely recognized.

Through this journey, we intend to exercise our own ability to give selflessly and will hopefully be able to encourage others to also join us in this experiment.

Because we have experienced the effects we have on people as Westerners in a largely tourist-free area, we know that our actions will be magnified beyond any reasonable proportion. We will likely get a lot of press attention and therefore will have a voice. We can easily be just a passing phenomenon – a sensational news story (perhaps even one that does some good) that comes and goes, but we also have the opportunity to strive to offer something of greater substance. We have developed several such ideas for how we can do this, and this rickshaw story is the basis of one of them.

Before I continue though, I have to interject with another story that just happened in real-time as I was writing this. We have recently moved into a new apartment – owned by the family of Rish, a former fellow of Indicorps. We have been here only a week. In taking the time to write this entry, I have had four people come to the door and walk right in. The first was a man who has been very helpful to us in exploring our internet possibilities. The next two were kids who wanted me to come play. And finally a young man, who just wanted to talk. They all just wanted to spend some time. The reason I haven’t kept up with my blog entries is precisely because of this. In order to keep writing, I had to let them all know that I was busy. In saying this, a door was closed. In better greeting their welcomes, I would have been more generous with my presence. At this moment, it feels like I am choosing the closed, self-contained lifestyle that I and so many Westerners have developed as the norm. But it’s tough. If you are getting anything out of reading this, then that too has real value.

And that is the decision I’ve faced at nearly every moment of this trip – to withdraw from the present to capture the stories, or to live and let them go. For the benefit of sharing these stories with others, I am trying to write more, but there is a clear and definite price.

Anyway, you’re waiting for the rickshaw story. Aw, forget it. This has been too long. You’ll never read the rickshaw story now. Let me start again, then you’ll read it…