Stories from September

In Jaipur, our tribe put together a new event designed to bring strangers together called K(no)w Unknowns – Connect with Strangers – where people were connected to a stranger with the intention to get to know their story over a couple of weeks. And then everyone was invited to an event where they all came together share their experience and enjoy the company of a new found community. The gathering was joyous with shared stories and music too!

Last month, our cosy GWT tribes* in Sydney, London, Chennai & Kochi, reminded us of the beautiful power of small. And left us in awe of our chapter heads in these 4 cities who are resilient, determined, brave and rebellious**. We have always maintained that it doesn’t matter the number of people 1 or 100, every letter and every small act of kindness has the possibility of creating a ripple effect that we will never fully be able to measure 🙂

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Our girls in Kuwait who often describe their events as peaceful had yet another Letter Earthlings gathering. Meryl messaged to say, “when people come together to connect to share it really feels so relaxing, its a huge break from the rush through life. The Goodwill Tribe events can be huge stress buster to our heart and soul”

Hey, have you ever tried writing a letter to yourself? This is exactly what our Delhi tribe did. They brought people together to write a letter to appreciate themselves and a second one that will be mailed to their future selves 6 months later. How amazing is that? They also introduced an icebreaking activity where strangers complimented each other. Yes, strangers who had just met each for the first time pointed out beautiful things that they see in the other person. Inspired by this beautiful event, our Pune tribe has decided to do the same in November.

Here’s are 2 testimonials from that day:

“The letter earthlings event was amazing.This was the first time ever that I wrote a letter to myself. I found this a great idea to spend time on yourself. I could see how excited everyone was to write a letters to themselves. Activities like gathering adjectives for ourselves was a wonderful and a positive experience. I could see how everyone just beamed up on getting the “You are awesome” card!”

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Take away cards from the event

“Personally, I am an introvert and through the activities I did at LE, made me overcome the hiccups I face talking and socialising with unknown people. I made new friends and discovered a new side of me. But most of all, I finally found time to invest in myself. I introspected and made a commitment to myself. I finally have a path in front of me that I decided. Let’s see how it goes!”

We often receive some beautiful reactions from LE recipients…here’s a few of them 🙂 It’s a sweet reminder of the small acts of kindness. They really, really matter.


We are in awe of the efficiency of our team in Goa – they are legit #goals. Talking about Goa, did you see what magic they spread around Goa last time?

Our pilot chapters, Nagpur and Bhopal received a mind-blowing response!

Mandar and his team of passionate volunteers pulled off an extraordinary pilot session of Letter Earthlings targeted towards people who have had a chapter of cancer in their lives. We absolutely cannot do justice to the stories we heard after, we were left speechless, deeply moved and smiling from ear to ear. We are just going to let you read this blog article for all the stories that unfolded that day.

Khushbu, who hosted her pilot event at her cosy little studio over cups of chai in Bhopal, saw a wide diversity in age and mentioned the tonne of blessings that the tribe has received and interest in the work we do.

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The event gathered folks from 6 years old to 50 years old!

Oh, and if you haven’t seen already, we have also launched LE Online and the response has been great! Spread the word for friends and families that are in faraway places 🙂

We sent out our traditional gift boxes to all our new tribes and what a joy it was watching everyone receive em! There’s something amazing about putting gifts together for people you love =)

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Priceless gifts and little ways to practice kindness

A deep moment of service a few weeks ago inspired this mandala. The quote“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” resonates with so many of us here.

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In interesting news, post the Charlottesville incident, Obama’s tweet set the record for the most liked tweet ever. It was a beautiful quote by Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Something to think about…

The media seemed to really like us the past month – we are always grateful for journalists who tell our story (and lots of incorrect information LOL!) – who choose to cover content of goodness

The awesome Arunesh is our guest blogger covering topics of kindness in various cultural traditions. Read them yet?

*refers to tribes that often attract smaller number of crowd, yet the ones that have the most homely, cosy vibes with intimate one on one conversations

** in the world we live in, it’s almost rebellious to be kind 🙂

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Kindness in Culture – Ubuntu

There is an increasing amount of research revealing that human beings are inherently kind and compassionate. And there are many examples of cultures and communities that live in alignment with these values. Arunesh our volunteer blogger is exploring this theme to uncover inspiring stories of ‘kindness in culture’, from around the world.

So let me begin with a little story. An anthropologist was on a tour to Africa studying the habits and culture of a remote tribe. On the day when he was about to leave, he decided to put together a basket filled with delicious eatables. Placing the same under a tree, he gathered the children from a nearby village. Instructing them further, the kids were told to run towards the tree to fetch the basket. The one reaching first would have a chance to savor those delicacies.

To the man’s surprise, the little kids ran together, hand-in-hand. Eventually, everyone was crowned the winner since all of them finished at the same time. Therefore, each little soul beneath the tree could enjoy the fruits in unison. Mind-boggled by this instance which unfolded before his own eyes, he questioned a young girl about the same. With a smile she replied, “How can one of us be happy when the others are sad?”

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This ideology forms the core or say, an underlying feature of ‘Ubuntu’ which basically means ‘I am because we are.’ Isn’t it amazing? A renowned South African activist, Mr. Desmond Tutu, has explained the philosophy very well. He says, “Africans have a thing called ubuntu. We believe that a person is a person through other persons. That my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanize you, I dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. Therefore you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging.”

Not much remains to be said after this crisp definition of what Ubuntu is all about. Sighting a simple example, why am I writing this? It’s because you (are) and many other people would be reading it. The fundamental act of writing has the power to bridge the gap between an author and a reader. They are intricately linked through a piece of text, however the content maybe. Indeed, this is a broad consideration and varies from true essence of Ubuntu. But the concept of kindling that sense of oneness is a mutual feature between the two. We at The Goodwill Tribe believe the same when it comes to embracing human connections. Kindness and compassion is all you need to make a difference in the lives of people. For the South Africans, it’s a way of life!

Travel, strangers, stories and a little bit of kindness

If you’re following this blog, you’ve probably read about our experiments taking kindness on road-trips. In a very few words, it has been amazing! And so we decided to step things up and partner with the awesome folks at The Big Bang Trip to make connection and kindness activities a feature of the road-trips. They bring a group of strangers (trippers) together on unforgettable road-trips.

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The next road-trip is from 23rd September to 30th September and we’re going to Uttrakhand. We will be visiting Landour, Mussoorie, Lansdowne, and Kousani; places that remain unexplored and have a magical charm about them.

When you travel, it feels like you are stepping out of your life completely, and you have a chance to just absorb the wonder of new places, people, practices and perspectives. What’s even better is getting to travel with complete strangers – which is the way all these road-trips work. So you will be sharing stories, meals, rooms, laughter, conversations and new experiences with strangers, who might even turn into dear friends. The trips are a lot about all the storytelling that happens among people meeting each for the first time, and just really having a blast together. It’s an amazing experience of sameness – where we realise that for all that makes us different, there is so much that makes us the same.

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When people are travelling, their minds and hearts are open to the beauty of kindness and the power of connection. And so we design a few custom experiences for the trippers to connect more deeply to themselves, others and to have fun and spread smiles through some random acts of kindness.

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If this sounds like an experience you would like to be a part of, register now to join us on this trip of a lifetime!

Letters of love, taking on cancer – Nagpur

“We are all just a car crash, a diagnosis, an unexpected phone call, a newfound love, or a broken heart away from becoming a completely different person. How beautifully fragile are we that so many things can take but a moment to alter who we are for forever?”

-Samuel Decker Thompson

Isn’t it amazing how simply yet beautifully Thompson talks about the unpredictability of our lives? We never know how an event will impact our life and change it forever. Cancer is one such experience that can alter a person’s personality and make her/him a completely different person.

In the Nagpur edition of Letter Earthlings, we thought why not take cancer and try to change the way people look at it. We wrote letters to cancer survivors, cancer patients and to the families who have lost their loved ones to cancer. ‘Why not use our positive and kind words to heal and soothe a cancer survivor’ was our main idea behind organizing this event.

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We live in a world that is divided by race, class, gender, but in this divided world, kindness and hope hold us together. Cancer is a disease that has confused the entire world, and the world is fighting cancer together. The one common element we found in every cancer survivor’s story was their strength and their will power to beat the disease and come out of it stronger. We wanted to write letters to cancer survivors to salute their ‘never say die’ spirit.

Chemotherapy and radiation are treatments that take a toll on a patient not only physically, but also psychologically; in such a critical time, it means a world to have someone by your side, someone who will make you believe in your inner strength. Constant support and a few positive words can make a huge difference to someone who is going through so much pain.

We often hear people saying one must always follow her/his dreams, come what may, but not many of us actually have the guts to do it. One of the survivor stories we read went on to prove that if you are really passionate about something, nothing can stop you. This middle aged woman is battling breast cancer, her daughter, who had requested a letter, wrote, how her mother’s love for music helped her cope up with her chemo and radiation. Today her mother is a stage performer!

Another instance that was heartwarming, was watching a tiny 12 year old patiently writing as many letters as she could. The care, love and compassion with which she was penning down each letter and personalizing it, was really touching!

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The event that was a huge success, gave all of us a new perspective to look at this negative disease. Reading the stories of cancer patients and survivors made us realize that optimism, love and will power can move mountains! The positive outlook of these cancer patients made us reflect on how we unnecessarily crib about little things and blow them out of proportion.

In a world that is so self-centred, it was overwhelming to see so many people join us selflessly for a good cause. If there is one thing I’m sure everyone took home with them, it was a wider world vision. In this age of selfies, this event taught us to look beyond ourselves.

Blissed out – Kuwait

“Just as the stars shine bright in the dark so does any act of kindness” – GWT Kuwait

Blissed Out is an event organised by The Goodwill Tribe Kuwait, with the intention of creating an atmosphere of living in solace with oneself and being in a state of pure happiness, despite our busy lives.

This time The Goodwill Tribe Kuwait joined forces with the Stargazing Group Kuwait to experience the power of silence, music and calmness of nature’s presence.

The reason we chose to stargaze, was to remind ourselves that we are so lost in our own life’s issues and worries, we fail to embrace the blessings of the small things we have in life. Just as Draya Mooney said, “Look at the stars. See their beauty. And in that beauty, see yourself.”

Apart from stargazing we decided to have an encore of Silent Sound, where we invite musicians whether pros or bathroom singers, (totally agree that the acoustics are great in the restroom :)) to perform in a space where they can be themselves.

Together with music, we had a session of Bonfire Tales a.k.a One Kind, in which we shared about what kindness means to each one of us and what makes us truly happy.
We also spoke about the power of silence and the importance of time in solitude.

Meditating was so peaceful in the desert, and there’s nothing like being at rest with oneself, regardless of whatever is happening around us..the stars reminded us that we have so many options left even if some didn’t work out..

Be kind , stay humble ..

The Goodwill Tribe Story

There’s never been a time in history where human beings have been as digitally connected as we are today; paradoxically we’ve never been as disconnected, from our souls and our tribes, from our passion and compassion. We walk past one other without any acknowledgement and smiling at a stranger is so rare; when we meet, we say ‘how are you?’, but don’t really stop to listen; we don’t know our neighbours, have no sense of community and feel like we’re in a constant race against time. This disconnection is what inspired The Goodwill Tribe. We’re on a mission to inspire human connection and compassion.

Close to four years ago, two of us friends got together and just shared dreams of a way to shake it all up, to connect us all to each other and bring more compassion into the world. Our mission was aligned and we decided to take the first step! We got a few friends together and collected things from our homes that could be gifted to people, and wrapped everything with a lot of love. We gifted everything away at a local flea market. The reactions were magical. The smiles, spontaneous hugs, conversations and laughter opened up a part of our hearts and left us with this inexplicable feeling of fullness. It felt as though everyone had been seeking deeper connections and a space to be kind. We knew then that we had to keep this going.

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And so we experimented with lots of different ideas. At ‘Kindness Confetti’ events we’d get together to surprise strangers with random acts of kindness. At ‘Letter Earthlings’ events we’d get together to write letters of love, support and encouragement to strangers going through a tough time. We receive letter requests for people all over the world, write to them at our community events and then have the letters delivered anonymously to the recipient by snail mail. At ‘One Kind’ events, we come together in a circle of sharing to dig deeper within ourselves and connect through stories and conversations.

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About two years ago, our friends in Bangalore and Chennai, India reached out to say they wanted to do the same in their cities. We were thrilled! We’d never have imagined this then, but we’ve now got local chapters in 11 cities (London, Sydney, Kuwait City, Dubai, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Goa, Kochi, Trivandrum) around the world, with pilot runs in 3 other cities (Jaipur, Rajkot, Fujairah) . All of it organic, all of it volunteer driven, all of it without funding and each city with its own powerful story to share!

In the first ever event in Mumbai, India, so many people turned up to write letters that they had to stand outside the café, lean on cars, and write words of love to a stranger. Our two wonderful tribe members in Kuwait City, hosted an event called Silent Sound where they brought people together to connect through the beauty of music. They had 30 people show up to experience the magic! In London, the tribe hosts all their events in a space called ‘The Museum of Happiness’, yes it exists! In Pune, India, the tribe created a special event where they wrote letters to soldiers serving the nation and shipped off a bag of about 60 anonymous letters of appreciation. In Bangalore, three generations of women came together to knit beautiful woollen caps for a kindness donation drive. And the stories and ripples continue.

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We’ve been super inspired by the journey so far and now really want to step it up! We want to inspire compassion in all settings. And here’s the plan:

  1. Local kindness chapters everywhere
    Volunteer run groups all over the world, that host free events to inspire compassion and human connection in their communities. Imagine every city has a tribe of people dedicated to spreading smiles and inspiring kindness. Imagine what that could ripple into, for all the people involved, for the cities and for the world at large!
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  3. Radical social experiments and events
    Eye opening experiments in human connection that help us break past stereotypes, stigma and conditioning; experiences that facilitate unlearning. We hope to make people pause, connect and perhaps discover a new (natural) way of being with each other. Some examples include:A project that curates the stories of every-day people in an effort to have them feel seen, worthy and beautiful. These stories will be a medium to bring down barriers, challenge stereotypes, help us see past all of our differences and instead focus on what makes us all the same.A specially curated trip that brings strangers together in an experience designed for kindness, compassion and cultivating connection.
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  5. Experience designers
    We believe that compassion can be brought into all settings. It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it. We will design experiences for brands, businesses and spaces that want to include values of human connection and compassion in the DNA of their offerings.For a café, this could mean designing the look and feel of the place, the experiences you have while at the café, prompts for you to connect more deeply with yourself, creative ways to connect with strangers at the café etc.
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  7. Workshops and Activities
    We’re designing workshops around the themes of human connection, empathy, compassion and collaboration for schools, colleges and corporate workplaces.In schools, the activity based workshops are for children to discover and explore these values together. We hope to create a culture of kindness and empathy that children grow up with.In the competitive environment that is college life, our workshops are designed to spark moments of human connection, build community and inspire a culture of collaboration and co-creation.In workplaces, the workshops will empower employees with practices that they can follow, to co-create happier and more compassionate workplaces.

The Goodwill Tribe is going to be registered as a Not for Profit Company. We believe in a more compassionate world and are ready to do the work, one smile at a time. We’re calling on YOU to make this happen! We’ve launched a crowd funding campaign to get us off the ground and support the work for our first year. Check it out!

Contribute now and help us create a #billionsmilecompany

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Kindness Confetti – Kuwait

There is honestly something magical about being kind. The energy that one feels doing any pleasing act is inexplicable. Being a part of the Goodwill Tribe Kuwait, our motto is always to formulate events that inspire the idea of being kind, why is it life changing and how it builds human connection. But often, we are caught in this question of whether we are doing it genuinely from our hearts or just for the sake of organising an event.

We then realised that we needed to tutor ourselves to being practical with what we do in reality. It is such challenges and experiences that has inspired the Goodwill Tribe Chapter to be incepted in Kuwait and it has only brought immense joy in our lives.

A friend of our tribe said of course at first it seems not too genuine, pretending to be nice at events like these and then we go back to the real world and we are still arrogant, but he himself felt some sort of of ease and mindfulness at “Kindness Confetti” held in Kuwait on 25th June, 2017 and in the end said thank you. 🙂

‘Every act of kindness is like consuming grace and compassion pills’ – Melissa Azavedo

We gathered at Costa Coffee where we for the first hour, prepared mini cards for strangers reminding them that they are awesome or to keep smiling, or just anything positive. For the next half hour we split into pairs and went around giving the cards to random individuals. Our participants were initially a little shy and just wanted to give in their cards and complete their tasks and therefore gave the cards saying “Hey I made this for you” (smiled) and dispersed. Initially our recipients were confused and didn’t really understand what was happening, but as they read the content in the cards, a smile just grew on their face. It was these sweet smiles that motivated our participants to take time and do more good and spread love around.

We then gathered back to the café and shared “Thank you” cards for the service team of the cafe we were at and also to some others around the premises. In our last half hour we just enjoyed our coffee, chocolates and muffins and shared our experiences about the whole journey of the event.

One story that stood out was when one of our friends was giving the card to somebody and then a security guard walks to them and said “What is this?” and his colleague took the card read it and said “Oh it is ok, its’ safe” which brought to our discourse that kindness is SAFE, it does no harm, its innocent, it is non- violent and it is spiritual in nature.

Our kind voyage taught us that kindness begins within ourselves and it is then we are able to go out into the whole world and share it. Heading back to the café after we gave our cards was to understand that sometimes it is so hard to be kind and emphatic in some circumstances but there is still some compassion and love left within ourselves that we have the capability to still be calm even when the world’s problems are crashing on us. It portrayed the understanding that we still got sufficient amount of goodness equivalent to the space smaller than the world (which was the café in our instance) and to never give up spreading joy.

Well… it all comes back to ourselves and it all depends on us to rejuvenate ourselves with the vibe of kind-heartedness and positivity so as to be at peace with ourselves. Life is too short for any negativity.

Words cannot describe the transformation of every individual at our recent event. And therefore we invite you to try simple acts of kindness in your routine whether it be to smile at a stranger or probably tip a little extra to a waiter at your favourite restaurant, to believe in kindness and its influence.
Our Kindness Party in this desert isn’t over, it has just begun. Spread the love and bliss wherever you are.

Stay Humble. Be Kind.

 

Multiple forms of Wealth

Here we are 3 and a half years since The Goodwill Tribe first started, and looking back, we had no idea we’d get this far. All we wanted to do was find a way to pump more love, kindness and connection into our world. We were often told that in order to stick around or scale we’d need financial resources. To keep it simple, we said to ourselves that we’d ask ourselves that question the day the need arises. Perhaps it has now, but, we’d like to share with you what we’ve discovered through our journey and the multiple powerful forms of wealth we have come to acknowledge.

The wealth of shared dreams
Everything started when Sonia reached out to Chandni with her big and beautiful dreams to spread kindness. Chandni sat back and listened amazed at how they were exactly aligned with their dreams. In the years to follow, their friends in other cities who also shared the dream started to align with us, bringing strength and scale to our cause. And then the community started to grow. We are now a team of about 35 people held together by the undeniable force of our shared dream.

The wealth of inspiration
Everything begins with a spark of inspiration. It’s never easy to pin point the exact moment, but it happened somewhere, because of someone, through something. It created that feeling that we all know so well, when the spirit is uplifted, the heart sings and the mind believes it can achieve anything. We found inspiration in the humble work of other people like Nipun Mehta, founder of Service Space, Sheetal Sanghvi, founder of The Urban Ashram, Hannah Brecher, the heart behind More Love Letters, Nivendra Uduman who threw a love letter writing party when we were in University and then went on to start Letter Earthlings, and so many other people. We’ve been inspired by all the content on kindness that is shared through the internet. We’ve been inspired by the million little moments of love and compassion we’ve witnessed in the world around us. And the list goes on, we feel so abundant in inspiration.

The wealth of time
Everyone on the team spends between 8 to 16 hours a month working on The Goodwill Tribe projects. They’ve chosen to be generous with their time and contribute it towards working for humanity. Everyone who comes for an event is taking time out of their lives because they believe in a better world. They’re taking time to deepen their inherent goodness, tap into their kindness capacity and connect with strangers. We appreciate the wealth of time that has been contributed to shape and sustain The Goodwill Tribe.

The wealth of ideas
We believe that reality is what you make it. And we’ve been exposed to so many amazing ideas of what our world could be. Our events have all been designed around rich ideas that have evolved in people’s minds. Each person in the tribe has astounded us with their creative ideas to inspire kindness and connection.

The wealth of community
At a Letter Earthlings event, we invite people to bring stationary from their own homes and they do! Sometimes we need help prepping for an event and reach out to the community. People respond, they turn up to help out. When we’re hosting an event outdoors it’s not surprising for people to come armed with a flask of tea and biscuits to share. We’re truly experiencing the power of community. This is what our world once was like, with people living together in close knit groups, where everyone took care of each other. We are aware of the wealth of community and are glad to watch it show its face, it is always guiding and supporting us with our intention and in our actions.

The wealth of technology
Our work has been possible only through the gift of technology. It is through the power of the Internet that members from 12 different Goodwill Tribe chapters around the world have come together on this shared mission. Many chapters have come into being because of a chance stumbling upon our website. Most of us have not met each other, yet are strongly connected through technology that brings us closer. We’ve got a Whatsapp group that is our channel for daily updates and stories. We use Skype to run our operations and on-board new chapters in any part of the world. We gather together on a monthly call on Zoom (a video conferencing software) to share stories, learning’s and inspiration. We bank on our Website and our Facebook page to get the word out about all of our events. Our blog is our voice to the world, it’s where we share the amazing moments we’ve experienced through our experiments with kindness and regular Skype calls and email ensures we are running operationally smooth. Beyond this, we believe that all these inspiring digital instances of kindness and compassion trigger many subtle and invisible ripples of goodness in the world!

It is only recently that we became aware of the multiple forms of wealth we have been tapping into all along, but it’s the thread that holds this blanket of compassion together. It’s a powerful thought to know that all of us are abundant in so many ways beyond financial resources. We feel full with all that we do every day.

We ask you to take a look at your life, and all the little pieces that make it what it is. Appreciate the wealth, you are abundant 🙂

 

Kindness in Culture – India

There is an increasing amount of research revealing that human beings are inherently kind and compassionate. And there are many examples of cultures and communities that live in alignment with these values. Arunesh our volunteer blogger is exploring this theme to uncover inspiring stories of ‘kindness in culture’, from around the world.

Ever heard about a mega-kitchen which serves thousands of people day in and day out, that too for free? This service is truly out of the love for mankind and known as ‘langar’ or ‘Guru ka langar’, which basically means a common kitchen at a Gurudwara, where food is served to all the visitors at absolutely no cost.

It is believed to be adopted by the first Sikh guru, Sant Guru Nanak and has been followed since then within the Sikh community. Each and every day, a number of pilgrims are fed for those who seek it. No person is turned down who knock upon their doors. The sole purpose behind this practice is to uphold the principle of equality amongst all people regardless of their background or social status. This a revolutionary concept all together in the caste-based society of 16th century India where Sikhism began. Additionally, the tradition of langar carries forward the ethics of sharing, community and oneness of all humankind.

So let us venture deep into this culture of langar, something which has been creating a lot of difference in the lives of people. What the Sikh people do is that they prepare delicious food, high in quality and full of nutrients. This meal usually consists of daal (lentils), rice, roti, a vegetable and kheer (sweet dish). All of this is prepared in massive utensils for the masses and curated by one or more Sikh families every week. It is prepared with much love, not to forget the divinity involved in it. Being served twice within a day, the process is quite methodical and very disciplined​. The people are made to sit in straight rows and need to cover their heads while eating as a mark of respect for the food. Once the lot has consumed their part of langar, another batch of citizens pour in for the next round of serving.

In India, the Golden Temple at Amritsar is considered to be one of the most sacred gurudwaras for the Sikhs. The footfall at the langar of this temple is about 50,000 each day which doubles up to 100,000 during the festive season. Just imagine the magnitude at which the preparations are done, thus the kitchens work almost 20 hours a day. To cater this huge demand a number of volunteers known as ‘sewadars’, come together and take part in providing service to fellow human beings.

The sheer scale of operations, including the number of devoted volunteers makes it the greatest example of participation of Sikhs in the service of humanity. What noble act will you witness other than this which is so selfless and pure. Every man and woman is served a holy meal without being turned away. This also exhibits their welcoming nature along with a strong desire to make a significant impact in the lives of people. You will see the same enthusiasm and generosity across all the gurudwaras in the world with the only aim of spreading kindness and assuring equality among people from all walks of life. It is really heartening (and the best examples to look forward to) example of the culture of kindness. More power to them!

Letter Earthlings Dubai

We hosted a beautiful Letter Earthlings event in Dubai last weekend where 19 of us came together to write 70 letters that will soon reach 5 people who live across the world!

The event was at XVA art hotel and café, and their beautiful, calming space really set the tone for our gathering. Anita and her two lovely sons Aryan and Siddharth, 11 and 14 years of age, were the first to arrive, very promptly, 20 minutes before we were to start. Karen found out about the event from a friend of hers travelling into Dubai, only an hour and a half before it started, but still turned up with a bunch of stamps, stars and pretty little things to add love to the letters. Satish had been lost, trying to find his way through the winding alleys that lead to the café, until he stumbled upon ever smiling Joanne who was also on her way to the event. It feels like there were many serendipitous moments that brought people together in the circle.

We were blown away by the sincerity with which people were writing. They were truly there to step up their feeling of empathy for those they were writing to and expressed this so well in their beautifully crafted and designed letters. Just watching this made us smile so much 🙂

We closed with a circle of sharing where everyone shared one recent story of connection with a stranger. Mavi shared about a recent taxi ride in Amsterdam that had left her in tears because of how deeply she connected to the driver. They had this almost ‘emergency break moment’, when they discovered that both of them were vegan! Karen shared about her experience writing the letters and about how deeply she connected to one of the requests. Varunya elevated the energy (as always) with her powerful story of connection to a family at a café in Dubai. Turned out that the man she was talking to was a new hire to the company she works for and she’d just emailed an hour before! She gave his entire family heart pins and was ecstatic when he showed up for his first day of work wearing his heart (on his sleeve).  Satish laid his heart open with his deep shares about his deep empathy and love for people. He’d recently helped an old couple get to the hospital easily, and was embraced with so much love for doing so. Joanne was moved by two new friends she made on her travels to Casablanca, who were just so curious to get to know her better and understand her culture. Constantina shared an amazing experience from her travels in Iran, where she’d met a local family on the bus and ended up staying with them at their home for a night, creating moments of human connection that will stay in her heart. Toprak shared about her experience during the event and how she’d found that she was able to deeply empathise with everyone she was writing to. Anita shared a powerful story of communication that went beyond language. She’d worked in the department of mental health at a hospital and a young woman who’d been in and out over 4 years, finally shared what she was going through in a language Anita barely understood. Anita’s youngest son Aryan beautifully reflected on the event, “Being here is my moment of connecting with strangers. It’s nice to be with all of you, write, laugh and have a good time. My heart feels good.” Troy perhaps the sincerest writer shared that he hoped the letters he wrote would touch the hearts of the people who received them and make some kind of difference to their day! Ravi, a frequent volunteer shared how he loved showing up at these events to connect with people. Sonia shared a story of connecting deeply with a taxi driver in Dubai, so much so that he refused to take a payment from her when she arrived at her destination. Siddharth beautifully said, “I see what we are doing here as a way of bringing a beacon of light and hope into the lives of people.” Shweta wrapped it up with a very kind story of how a colleague had gone a long way to transform a rough day by surprising with her favourite banana bread.

Nikki who couldn’t stay till the end sent us a note sharing, “when I was walking back home I realised how complete and selfless I felt. Those were an amazing 45 minutes of my life after a very long time. Doing an anonymous activity made sure that not even my unconscious ego was served at all.” Karl amazed us with his sketch of the London skyline in a mindfully crafted letter to a recipient in London. Aimy and Pooja as always brought their genuine hearts and desire to be kind to the circle.

Overall it was a little bit of magic and a lot of kindness. We are grateful! 🙂

Letter Earthlings is one of our most popular projects. We receive letter requests from individuals through our google form; for their friends, family, colleagues or maybe even themselves. These requests maybe for someone going through a tough or just for someone who needs to reminded of their awesomeness. And then we get together at community events to write letters of love, encouragement and support to these strangers all around the world. The letters are beautifully packaged and posted anonymously to the recipients. And one fine day the recipient receives this bundle of handwritten letters filled with love and compassion from different parts of the world 🙂