It was this time, last year. My big 30th birthday. And I had got the best present ever, when I wrote this.
Akanksha, someone once told me the closest they can come to explaining that word in English is ambition. A quick search on the internet and you see words like ‘desire’ and ‘want’ explaining Akanksha. Desire and want, are about yourself, to me they sound selfish. Ambition, does have a slight negative tone, smelling of arrogance, lacking in soul. All of these perceptions, connotations, synonyms are lost though, the moment you see the amazing work that the Akanksha Foundation is doing in India.
If you have lived in India, and are remotely interested in NGOs working with children, chances are you’ve heard of them. I had too. And found it inspiring. And then I read about the founder, Shaheen Mistry’s journey in the Rashmi Bansal book, ‘I have a dream‘ and I was blown away! The determination, the belief and the simplicity in her thought “in today’s world, how can the idea of basic education be revolutionary?” was beyond inspiring!
Art for Akanksha, is their initiative to provide the Akanksha kids an opportunity to get specialised education in arts. They design and produce a fantastic range of products and market them under the Akanksha brand. In my most precious birthday present until now, I got a chance to spend a day at one of their art workshops at their center in Worli, Mumbai.
So I was at Auroville last year. A community, an international township in the south of India, which is a melting pot of different cultures, people from different parts of the world, for whom this is home.
The idyllic setting and the lovely people creates the perfect atmosphere for both silence and conversations.
Amidst the organic food, the lovely workshops, concerts in the amphitheatre on a beautiful moonlit night, the stunning handicraft there swept me off my feet! Simple and charming. Soulful, like everything else in Auroville, and what the place stands for. Innovation, Beauty, simplicity, recycling, earthy, creating employment opportunities (some of the stuff is made by women from surrounding villages). Truly inspiring!
Here is a low down on my top picks:
What do you do when your best friend makes the most amazing, all natural cosmetics, and you are a sucker for handmade and handcrafted with a blog? Well, you put two and two together (it’s easy math ;-)) and proud as you are, you brag about it!
Meet Ilaria Zinzani and ‘La cosmetica in dispensa’.
I asked her a few questions to write about her and she, who always tells me how well I write, sent these beautifully expressed answers! So warm, personal, honest… so like her… and any interpretation by me, would have been a distortion, so I decided to let it be as is…
Hearing it now, straight from the horses’ mouth (with my little bits)!
A couple months of hiatus, traveling across different continents, relocating to a new country and a month-long intensive yoga workshop at the foothills of the Himalayas later, I finally have my feet and my mind in the same place, enough to write again about the splendours of art and craft. It is in fact one such splendour (which I have actually known about for couple years now), that completely renewed my energy (something they invariably manage to do each time I go there!) and compelled me to start writing again.
Stree Shakti is an empowerment scheme for the women who live in and around the village of Purkal in Uttarakhand.