mumbai03Mumbai was an interesting experience. When I first arrived, I headed to
Gopi’s. It took me about 2 hours to get there through traffic. From there, I quickly had to get to the other side of town to change my airline tickets back home. This took me a couple more hours. I quickly got a taste of what was going to be a dominant element – with all its congestion, getting about in Mumbai is like moving through molasses.

We had so much to accomplish in Bombay and I quickly got to work. Almost immediately we got two big thumbs up for the use of both Wankhede and Brabourne Cricket Stadiums. When we later decided to change the date, however, both stadium bookings fell through and from that point, so much of our time was spent either campaigning to get the stadiums again or looking for alternative venues.

Our overall goal was to get celebrity support for our project, particularly during the big event. Through a contact of our friend Meghna’s, I got the mobile number of just about every superstar in Bollywood. Without a venue, however, it was hard to sound credible and much of what we could have been moving forward with had to be delayed.

mumbai101The public service announcement was set in motion almost immediately. Working with Buddy and Black Magic was a treat. They did a phenomenal job.

I met up on day one with Jocelyn, a new volunteer who had come to Bombay specifically to work with us. She was great. A little later, Mark and Yoo-mi, Maria, and Smita all came to town. Eventually, we were given a place to stay in a part of town far, far away. From there, a typical day would consist of fighting to squeeze onto a local train ridiculously overstuffed with a dense mass of sweaty men, and then working to prioritize and take on an endless ‘to-do’ list where every item on it was absolutely priority number one.

Everything involved personal meetings all over town and only about four or five meetings at most could take place in any day – if lucky. We spent our time trying to get venues, funding, celebrities, artists, etc, etc., and so much more. Food and sleep were placed on hold for months, but what an amazing experience.

My corporate hairstyle had grown in and I held onto it as long as I could.

With more time, it’s likely we could have turned this into the biggest thing in decades, but we raced forward, all knowing our personal lives would fall apart if we delayed. In the end, one of the most popular Indian bands, Aasma, agreed to play for free, and several big stars said they would try to show up. For various reasons, many of these things fell apart, but the event was a huge success anyway. The emcee, a TV celebrity named Nasir Kazi, from the hit show Kyunki held the event together beautifully.

mumbai16In Bombay, we had the amazing privilege of working together with so many inspiring, kindred spirits. There are just too many to mention here, but overall it was just such a truly rich, beautiful, and memorable experience.

There really are probably hundreds of fascinating stories buried within this one blog entry. In the end, we did walk away with one big celebrity agreeing to work with us on a second public service announcement, and we are pretty certain if this happens, many others will follow. I am working hard to nurture this and make it happen while on the road now in other parts.