Her first travel encounter

Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign. If you haven’t already done so, please stow your carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you or in an overhead bin. Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt. And also make sure your seat back and folding trays are in their full upright position.

If you are seated next to an emergency exit, please read carefully the special instructions card located by your seat. If you do not wish to perform the functions described in the event of an emergency, please ask a flight attendant to reseat you.

 We remind you that this is a non-smoking flight. Smoking is prohibited on the entire aircraft, including the lavatories. Tampering with, disabling or destroying the lavatory smoke detectors is prohibited by law.

If you have any questions about our flight today, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our flight attendants. Thank you.”

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Sounds familiar, right? But for Ayesha, this was going to be her first time in a flight and that too for an International trip. As advised by her well-wishers, she ensured to secure herself a window seat, so that she can enjoy the aerial view.

She was welcomed by the flight attendants. As soon as she entered to look for her seat, she was surprised to see the crowd of Gujarati families all over and took a moment to digest that she had boarded the correct flight. Since it was the month of April, there was a huge crowd of people going on vacations to Bangkok.

She started looking for her seat, but was taken aback to see it already occupied by an old man. Perplexed, she verified if this was the correct seat but couldn’t understand why it was taken by someone else.

She stopped one of the flight attendant and asked,”Hey, can you check what’s wrong with the seat numbers? I have this seat allotted to me, but this is already occupied”. The flight attendant viewed the ticket and exchanged some talks with the old man and his family. Then she came back to Ayesha and said,” “Ma’am, would you mind if we arrange another seat for you? This family wants to sit together and  unfortunately their seats are scattered. We would appreciate if you could accommodate this request”.

How could Ayesha have denied this request? She didn’t know if arguing over this would have been a great idea and she silently accepted the request. She was taken to another seat next to two young guys. She took her seat but for some reason started feeling uncomfortable in the presence of two strangers. On the other hand, she was also blaming the attendants for depriving her of the window seat.

She started trying to fasten her seat-belt. All of a sudden, she observed a silence in the flight and an announcement began on the safety instructions. However, by the time she looked above she missed the important part, how to fasten the seat-belt. And probably asking someone was also not a good idea for that would be an embarrassing situation.   After all the struggle, she gave a helpless look to the guy sitting next to her who was already observing her attempts.

“I am sorry, this is the first time I am travelling”, said Ayesha. “No problem”, said the young guy smiling. He quickly gave her a demo. “That was so easy” – she thought to herself. Ayesha couldn’t have been more grateful for this help. She inquired to him,”What’s your destination?”. “We are going to Bangkok for a week long vacation. And you?” – came the response. “I am travelling to Manila, Philippines for work.”, said Ayesha. “That’s nice”, said the guy. After the take-off, she had her dinner and was all ready to rest.

She closed her eyes with content and got into a sound sleep.

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The Joy of Giving

Earlier this month, I got the opportunity to participate in the event organized at Apang Manav Mandal Boys Hostel, an NGO focused for elevating the children with disabilities. As per the original instruction that we received from our Event Lead we were to assist and motivate the children for a drawing competition. The first thought that initially came into my mind was, how will I be able to motivate a child in a duration of 2 hours that too for a drawing competition? But once I actually participated in the event my perception was changed and it was indeed an uplifting experience not just for the children but also for me as a volunteer.

The children had come back from their summer vacations and this was their first event post-vacation. Once we were all set for the event to start, the children started getting in at the place where the drawing competition was supposed to be conducted. Seeing these children with disability made my heart-melt and I was almost in tears wondering how much they have to struggle to undertake tasks.

Once the event started, every single child put in their creative efforts to give their best shot. As a volunteer, we got the opportunity to be with these kids and assist them adding to their thoughts and creativity; suggesting what best could be done to stand-out in the crowd. The response and the enthusiasm shown by the kids throughout the event was overwhelming. After the competition, we had a small gathering where the winners were announced and the children with some unique talent were encouraged to come in the front and perform. Each win was appreciated and celebrated by the crowd. In addition to this, I was truly amazed to meet and see people from our organization with such high spirits to make the event a success by engaging the children in conversations and spreading smiles. To me some were known faces and some were new, regardless – we all knew we had one common purpose – “To GiveBack”

Grateful that I got an opportunity to come out of my comfort zone and work together with colleagues to make a difference and give back to the society. Looking forward to be a part of more such events, which definitely will strengthen me as an individual.

Ayesha’s Tragedy

Just like everyday, Ayesha returned home late after a long and tiring day at work. She had dinner with her family and excused herself for bed. She could never go to sleep directly without listening to some music or reading a bit. Ayesha led a life surrounded by a lot of people but she was at peace only when she was all alone by herself with her headphones on – dreaming about accomplishing her dreams. To her, music was like the blood pumping into her heart. Her passion for music was well known to everyone in the house and was often scolded by her mom for not concentrating on her tasks because of music.

Reading through some pages of Sherlock Holmes, she fell asleep, not realizing the lights were still on. She had entered into her zone of dreams where she was once again in the midst of things she liked the most. Suddenly, she woke up to a loud thumping at her door. “Who’s there?” asked Ayesha. “It’s us!” came a shout from the other side of the door. Still in a shock and rubbing her sleepy eyes, she opened the door to find her mom and dad standing there. She stood staring at them wondering what could have compelled them to wake her up at 2:00 in the morning. “What happened? Is everything alright?” she inquired.

With a worried face, her mom replied –“No, nothing is alright. We heard you singing in sleep”.  “What! Are you out of your mind? I’ve been in deep sleep and I know for sure, I haven’t been singing.” “No” came the response from the other side. “You have been singing, we heard you singing aloud. You were singing an old Bollywood song. And since you have been singing in your sleep, it seems like evil has come over you. We observed that you haven’t been praying enough lately and now the consequences are visible.” “But mom, I…”. “No, don’t say anything. Come downstairs with us now and let’s pray for you”.

Bewildered and irritated, she accompanied them downstairs. And there she was, sitting at 2.00 a.m. in the drawing room. Her mom handed her a Bible and said “Read this and ask for forgiveness of your sins”. For almost half an hour, she sat there like a statue. Not understanding what to do, she finally submitted herself to her parents and read the Bible. Taking this step was like freeing herself from jail. She was allowed to go back to sleep.

Next day, early morning – it was again time to go to office. The previous night’s hangover forced her not to talk to her parents and leave with a gloomy face still wondering what made them act so weird and deprive her of sleep.

As soon as she reached her office, she got a call. She answered the phone to find it was her brother Roger “Ayesha dear, how are you doing?” With a grim face, she replied “I am okay”. Roger continued, “What had happened yesterday?” Ayesha sighed, “Not again! Don’t remind me about that”. “Hey, hey, hey my little sister, don’t you worry. That was me singing in the middle of the night with my headphones on because of which I didn’t realize that I was loud enough to be heard downstairs. Sorry for what happened last night! It was all because of me.”

Ayesha froze there thinking whether she should get angry with him or laugh at the silly incident.

Trust in God

Few years ago, I was in Mumbai for a business trip for a couple of days. This being my first trip to the happening city of Mumbai, I wanted to take all the opportunity to experience it and visit some of the famous churches which I always wanted to. 

The first day, I visited Mt. Mary Church and lone time at Bandstand. It was enjoyable to see the families, kids and couples having a fun time together. Particularly, I was astonished to see the enthusiasm of the young people waiting in front of ShahRukh Khan’s house “Mannat” waiting to get a glimpse of him.

On the second day of my trip, I made up my mind to go to the Mahim church. I called up one of my friend to consult on the route I should take to reach there. I was planning to hire a cab or rickshaw but my friend encouraged me to take a train to Mahim. I wasn’t sure if this was a great idea being a solo traveler to which he mentioned if I was able to, it will be a great achievement.

I decided to follow his advice. I took a train with the help of other fellow travelers and successfully reached Mahim. The next steps were tricky since I didn’t know which way to go and I couldn’t find anyone who could help me with it. I decided to take left from the station and kept walking up to a point where my inner voice said this is not the right path. Immediately, I recalled the verse from Isaiah 30:21 which goes this way, Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.”

I started walking back and took a road straight from the station. I asked a cabman if he could drop me at Mahim church. He was kind enough to inform me that the church was at a walking distance. I kept walking until I reached a Church tower where a lady was lighting candles. Assuming this was the Church I confirmed with her. She said the church was at a different location. She paused and said if I can wait for her to complete her prayers she’ll escort me to the place. I happily agreed to this offer and observed her as she completed her prayers.

We walked for a kilometer until we reached the destination. What a peaceful experience that was having finally reached place. The lady bid me goodbye after guiding me on the way back to station. After spending a good one hour at the church, I returned to my hotel.

This simple event from my life has increased my faith and confidence in God. This depicted how close God is walking with us. No matter where we go he places his angels –  in the form of a friend, cab driver or the lady at the church tower. We just have to place ourselves in his care he will take care of the rest!