Reminisce back to brighter days... The Indian summer.
Once upon a time... It seems like only yesterday I was struggling with to-do lists, my lady-lion-friends said goodbye to me on a terrace in Leuven and I shut the office door behind me.
Yesterday, that very door swung open again. A very rude awakening.
So my dearest readers, with great regret, I have to announce that the end of my blog is near.
But before diving back into every day life, all aboard the Memory Lane Express!
Now departing for India with stops at the idyllic places called Religion, Food, Berries and People.
Leaving the station.
First stop: Project "berry"
We finished our Sales and Marketing plan with flying colours.
Not without some final obstacles to conquer though.
Our last day proved to be quite a challenge.
The abundant travels had eaten up a lot of our valuable project-time.
While our colleagues were working the graveyard shift to create their reports and presentations,
Team Berry was off exploring India's boundaries.
For the project of course.
But still, all fun and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And no one ever died of having some fun along the way.
Back to the last hurdles in the project delivery.
We felt our deadline breathing heavily down our necks.
Luckily my partner in crime was named "Clai the Undismayed".
He consulted our loyal Roja, Professor Parasuraman's assistant. Roja always seems to be in a good mood, always kind and funny and praying for our lost blackberries or safe journeys (or urging me to eat more!)... Roja was the mold for creating 'the genie in the bottle'. She's our genie in the office and constantly made all our wishes come true: ice creams, food, flights, meetings and in this case, a person working in the Publications department who worked on the structure, lay out and orthography of our document.
Result: The TATA institute and the Director were pleased with the plan we presented and the concrete sales meetings we initiated to start putting the plan into practice.
Next steps were discussed and to top it all off, His Holiness the Dalai Lama got mentioned in our final discussion.
Where and how he would come into the picture?
Allow me to keep that a surprise.
But I promise you: IF this plot thickens, Clai and I are invited back to India.
And I will act as your humble flying reporter once again. My pleasure!
Next up: "Understanding Indian food"
Some Indians don't eat chicken.
Du-uh! Some Europeans don't eat chicken either so what's the big deal?
It's the reason why they don't eat chicken that makes all the difference.
Chickens are vicious, cold blooded killers. They eat other animals: bugs, worms, other things that crawl the dirt.
And killers, my friends, are not fit to be eaten.
In the Himalayas (Ladakh and the likes), people don't eat fish.
Fish cannot be cultivated. At least, that's how they see it. Fish are free. Fish belong to nature.
And man is not entitled to nature's own. It's not man's possession so it's not theirs to eat. (And oh yes, fish don't have a tongue either, another very good reason to strike it off the menu. Hmm.)
Arriving at stop "Miscellaneous":
- The ladies are probably all very familiar with pashmina shawls. The new men too for that matter. Allow me to share some Pashmina insights: Pashmina comes from the goat bearing the same name. They only produce pashmina (their woolen coats) when they feel cold enough. Way up in the Himalayas during winter.
And when spring arrives: 'Feel free to slip into something more comfortable Mrs. Pashima Goat' and 'Can I take your coat please?'
Before you know it another pashmina shawl is born.
- We spent a 3-hour face to face with our own private Buddhist monk to get some insights into mediation and Buddhism. Besides "detachment", not "clinging" and "impermanence", he told us about every form of life deserving respect. Even the smallest of animals.
That means that in India, people don't try putting you in a straight jacket when you're diligently trying to save a bug from drowning in your cocktail. So feel free to go on saving them!
------- NEWSFLASH --------
Ladies and Gentlemen, we're interrupting this blog entry for the following breaking news: We found a flaw in Buddhism. Ladies and gentlemen: we have a flaw! A flaw in Buddhism seems like a contradiction in terms, yet, one has been identified. During the private monk face to face, we learned they too, do not respect the boombos (Ladakhi word for donkeys that is). Shame on the Buddhist monk community! All forms of life remember?
BTW - You too can help the world become a bit more donkey-loving by adopting your own private one. Don't worry, it doesn't get delivered to your doorstep.
I've adopted one too: 50 measly dollars for a fluffy pet donkey.
Go to http://www.donkeysanctuary.in/how.html for further information.
I'll post the pictures of my newly adopted pet soon.
Next up: "People"
OK, blame me for generalizing but Indian people are entrepreneurial, friendly, hospitable and accept their faith.
They share everything. They even want to share if they don't have anything.
The multitude of religions is also overwhelming. It's amazing to see how inviting and open each of the religions are, welcoming strangers like us that have no clue what they're supposed to do with the apples they've been given (Should we eat them? Should we offer them to Ganesh? Should we throw them over our shoulder?)
All religions co-exist harmoniously. Although there have been some issues over the years, overall, as an outsider, you get a true feeling of mutual respect.
And then there's this other species called 'the IBMer'. Can also be categorized under the "People" section. Meeting inspired and inspiring IBM colleagues from all over the world in a new setting is simply refreshing: from the Mexican Latin Lover over the giant Canadian woman to the Chinese German wikipedia moghul and the good-hearted, gentle Brazilian.
And more breeds crossed my path: the more than talkative NY/Bostonian, that other Canadian nicknamed 'run Forrest run', the disarming and ever smiling South Korean and the friendly Hungarian.
And then there's Clai. A species on its own: a caring, hilarious and undismayed bee-keeper.
So all in all, did I make a difference in India?
I think I did.
We listened to the Ladakhi people, lived with them, ate on their floors, slept in their houses.
We took everything into account that matters to them and acted accordingly.
I promised to check in with them to see how things progress and hope to find them Fair Trade certified and in better shape by the next harvest and having sellers and distributors for all their derivatives. I think we gave them a good head start.
And if I didn't make a difference to the people, at least I adopted a donkey...