Jan 02. I was so captivated by the idea and model of the 'american food co-op' and felt a calling to come back home and co-create a warm, open space which would attract people who cared about the way they lived. This would have an eco-supermarket of some sort as its anchor. It would be co-created and run by a collective of passionate people who believed in each other and in having lots of fun working together!
Jun 04. I wrote the first of the series of many edited versions of the concept note for such a space. A well wisher offered a physical space. A bunch of young people spent their entire summer vacation cleaning it up and setting up a library. Rajeev and I launched 'The Resource Learning Centre' with a small puja. We dreamt of it as a place where people would throng to for all kinds of information, ideas and resources on anything alternative. We started with selling books. Friends contributed every month towards the administrative expenses. A local newspaper did a significant story about the centre. But after just a few months, it all collapsed so badly due to many reasons (both within and not within our control). I didn't know where to go put my face! In the meantime, I grabbed a couple of opportunities with other organisations and institutions hoping to co-create my dream space there. They were deadlier fiascos! It just wasn't happening!!
Jun 05. Not giving up, I rewrote the concept note and called it 'The Shop', hoping that we could somehow pull off the eco-supermarket of my dreams. I came up with a blueprint for the shop, and thought I had worked out all the details of it fairly well. I picked and chose about four people, presented the concept to them and started working on the idea. A few meetings into the planning it all seemed like shaping up well. But just then, I suffered my usual undiagnosed, unexplained attack of 'muscle weakness' and was almost bed-ridden for a couple of months. Exhausting local options of diagnosis (modern and traditional) in vain, I chose to seek the help of a medical intuitive from the US.
Dr.Mona Lisa Schulz asked me for just my name and age and nothing more; not even my symptoms. She energetically scanned my body from the other side of the globe. "It's quite chaotic inside your head! Lots of noise and an unbirthed idea you are holding on to. Don't try to conceive until you have birthed this one and you have healed completely. And you need immediate psychiatric attention." She named it! I was able to somewhat manage the weakness. But not the growing noise in my head. Melodious flute music was cacophonic. Words appeared like letters scattered all over making no sense. The noise grew louder until I was at the verge of madness. Another psychiatric friend in the States set out to do a 20-question phone interview to test my mental health and asked me to seek immediate medical help after just 5 questions! After much resistance, I desperately ran to a psychiatrist to treat me; to restore my sanity. In the middle of all this, I went back to my friends and kept them fully informed about the situation and told them to hang in there with the concept. "I'll fix my mind and be right back to continue the work!" I took off for a few months.
July-Nov 06. Dr.Padma was one amazing doctor who listened to my long hours of rambling, the details of the concept note occupying much of that time. After my insanity reached a point where 'ideology' (of being anti- anti-depressant and anti-modern psychiatry, etc.) didn't make any sense to me even as an idea; not even as a word with letters strung together, I decided to take my medication religiously. After just a couple of sittings with me, the doctor picked up two important threads. She urged me to do gardening, a dream I'd always held close to my heart but somehow never gotten around to pursuing. She quickly found out that all my earlier associations with activists and organisations had burnt me out, because I had my own dream of creating a space which was very different from them all. She urged me to drop all my other associations, and start my very own initiative. "You're so worn out taking care of other people's ideas, which they are not really interested in co-creating. Dream about your own. Live it. It will be your baby." She kept at this during our every meeting. I slowly healed, while labouring hard and creating a beautiful urban garden, and working on my dream.
Jan 07. While still phasing out my medication, I was up again with the concept note in my hand. The group that had come together initially was not to be found 'hanging in there'. I was there ; just me and the note. I had just begun having discussions with a good friend who started showing interest and soon became my partner in the mission. Fully recovered from my mental and physical ailments, I once again set out to gather the critical mass to take the concept beyond the note. Long bus rides to meet interested people from across the city, phone calls and emails got us this group of ten people to start with all over again. We tirelessly pursued a prospective collaboration with a well-established and resourceful organisation which came by. After several months of building on many promises of a grand launch of our collaborative venture, it collapsed miserably. The organisation backed off, while half the members of the put-together 'core-group' left for various reasons. It all looked bleak again.
Aug 07. I wasn't alone. Oh yes, the other half of the group remained and we were all chasing the dream together. But doubts were creeping in nevertheless. "Is it all just not meant to be? Is the universe having other plans for me, like becoming a mum and raising a family or something?" Loaded with these and many more questions and doubts, one morning I was waiting at the local bus stop. I sat on the little concrete bench, by the side of an old man. He had unkempt hair, wore a dirty dhoti and khadi shirt, and carried a jholna shoulder bag. He stared at me for a while and then addressed me in impeccable English "Hello madam. I would like to tell you something important." I didn't have a choice but to listen, for a moment atleast. "I am from Bangalore. I can read horoscopes and palms. Sometimes, I can read people's faces and I can read yours now. I have a message for you. Madam, you have been tirelessly trying to start a project for many years and have failed every time. I know you are very tired right now and have doubts in your mind. But good times are around the corner. Don't lose heart and keep at it. It is going to be a success! Things are going to fall into place effortlessly. You cannot stop them even if you want to. It is beyond you. Believe me. This is true!! That's all I wanted to say."
I couldn't believe what I'd just heard. I just sat there motionless and speechless, not knowing if he was sane or insane; if it was intentional or coincidental that his message made sense in my life situation. Without thanking him for his message, I smiled at the man halfheartedly and boarded the bus which had just arrived, quite dazed.
Feb 08. The core-group had replenished itself with a new set of passionate people who came together by themselves. Each of them had dreamt of just such a space to walk together with other co-travelers. reStore did have a grand launch, with an unexpected turnout of 300 people.
Feb 09. In spite of numerous teething troubles, hiccups and hurdles, reStore has been quite successful, taking its own course. Its has been quite different (in content, not spirit) from what we had each imagined for it when we first set out. We have excitement, enthusiasm, idealism, sincerity and passion driving it. The core group has grown steadily. A larger community of friends and well-wishers have contributed in countless ways! It has truly evolved into a warm, open space co-created by all the members of the collective together, working towards a shared vision with each adding his / her own unique value to it.
What a beautiful way the universe has had, of unfolding its grand plan!
How many of us angels have been sent forth for the task!!
How many of us angels with
.. intense eyes that met each other
.. warm smiles that greeted each other
.. open hearts that listened to each other
.. creative minds and hands that collaborated with each other
Some of us as messengers
Some as guardians
Some others, just believers in miracles, who simply blessed.
Without even one of us, would it have been the same?
Who can take credit for the unfolding of the plan?!
Who other than the universe itself which so beautifully conspires?!!
***As I hold little Isha in my arms, a sense of completion of my earlier phase in life fills me up. I feel humbled. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for all those who have helped me hold myself together, hugged me, cooked for me, held my hands, kept me alive, loved me, listened to me, believed in me... I feel healed and ready to have started my new phase of life as mama. I am so looking forward to this new journey with my little angel!