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Life Lessons From An 8,000 Kilometre Train Journey Around India

Earlier this year our Operations Executive, Mayur Parmar, had the opportunity to join Jagriti Yatra, a 15-day, 8,000 kilometre journey around India. The trip brings 450 young Indians together on a train to learn about our country. The journey is punctured by stops to learn from local leaders who are building India through innovative enterprise.

Last year, staff members of Jagritri Yatra came on a tour of Dharavi and Mayur met them and learned about their program. They encouraged him to apply and he did just that. When Mayur arrived on the train earlier this year, he quickly realized that coming from Dharavi and working for a social business made him unique among the 450 yatris, the majority of whom were studying to become engineers. Mayur took it upon himself to teach everyone about the unique community he is from and the company he works for. By the end of the journey he was a minor celebrity on the train and was selected by the Jagriti Yatra staff to address the group on the final day.

What follows is the speech that Mayur delivered to the 450 Jagriti Yatra participants and staff.

JY Map

Well, I don’t know from where should I start from. Today it has been 15 days of Jagriti Yatra and it seems like we all are together from 15 months. And this is what Jagriti Yatra is all about: experience, unity, and meeting new people all around India as well as other countries.

Just to give you a glimpse about me, I am an Operations Executive at Reality Tours and Travel. We provide tours of Mumbai and as well as educational Dharavi slum tours. Whatever money we generate, 80% of the profit after paying taxes and salaries goes to Reality Gives, our sister NGO. Reality Gives works with the Dharavi community by providing education and sport programs. Apart from that I am also the state captain of the Maharashtra Giants, the Australian Rules Football team. I have also been to Australia to represent the Indian team.

Jagriti Yatra Group Shot
All my co-compartment Yatris

For me the reason behind coming to Jagriti Yatra was to see how education and sport works in rural Indian. Yatra is all about experiencing new things and living outside of your comfort zone. But for me Yatra went beyond my expectations. To give an example, I would like to share one of my experiences.

Our first visit of Yatra was to Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya (KSV), an education NGO. During the school visit I saw a computer lab and that made me start thinking a lot about how I could support them. My first idea was to sponsor one of the kids from KSV for his studies, but I wasn’t sure if I would have enough money to continue to pay. Then I thought about how I have been working with Reality Gives and how they have a computer program too. I thought, why don’t I bring the Reality Gives computer curriculum to the students at KSV and support them that way. In the late afternoon I went to Mathieu Fortier, the founder of KSV, to ask about what sort of computer lessons they teach. But because of a lack of time, I couldn’t talk to him and I gave him my email instead. So if they will get back to me I would love to go there and give our computer curriculum to KSV.

And how can I forget about bathrooms? Before Yatra, did you ever have a bath with half a bucket of cold water in winter when the temperature is 2 degrees? Every early morning running towards the bathrooms for a half bucket of hot water. After these fifteen days, all the Yatris must know the value of water.

I always compare my life to a cricket match. On the field there is no wicket, there is no player, just you standing alone with the bat. And imagine the ball coming to you is an opportunity.

One ball comes, you missed.

Second ball comes, you missed.

Third, fourth, fifth and again you missed. But you are not out.

But the sixth one you hit a six. The ball is out of the ground. You have covered all five balls in this one.

But the main thing was that you never walked out of the ground, you just stood there and never gave up. You just waited for the next opportunity. And this is how I think we should approach life.

At the end, I just want to share one quote with you all which I follow:

“Success isn’t about how much money we are making, for me success is about how much differences I am making in people’s lives.” Thank you!

Mayur speaking
Giving my speech after the train journey.