What does it mean to positively transform
society? And why do some people feel a
need to do so?
“Is it worth spending your entire life building a bridge that you may
never cross yourself?”
“Answer me this--during your trip through India, did you ever take
shade under a tree you planted?”
One evening in Chennai.
Alex: What would you do with your life if you were told you were going to die?
Kumar: Yeah, I’m not sure what I would do if I was told I was going to die.
Colin: Well guess what? You are going to die. What are you going to do about it?
Wow. Where to begin? I arrived back from India two nights ago, and I start school again
in 5 days. I have about a million thoughts running through my head at this moment. It
will take time to fully comprehend the experience of the past two months.
This document contains my personal take on the journey. A very brief account in terms of
everything we experienced. Rest assured, we have the whole thing on tape!
We certainly jumped headfirst into India. Bargained with the paan-spitting rickshaw
drivers of Delhi—only found ourselves in one rickshaw accident. Purchased plastic
Buddha’s from children tapping on our windows. Ate dosa’s and chuttney from the street
side vendors, and asked for seconds. Folded our hands and said “Namaste”. Slept in a
filthy train station in Dhanbad, “the Coal Capital of India”. Treated to dinner at the Taj
Hotel by an oil man. Never nodded “yes” or “no” when asked if we would like bottled
water, but instead bobbled our heads. Bathed in the Ganges River despite knowing it is
perhaps the dirtiest waters in the world. Visited an IT call center. Heard our fortunes told
by a Hindu spirit speaking through a man in a temple in a village in Rajasthan (the spirit
says I should get a brown dog). Realized that giant holes in the sidewalks are to be
expected at night.
The details written in this document are simply the major parts that pop into my head at
the moment (and what I have been able to crank out in the past two days!). However, the
small parts are just as important. Spending time with the rickshaw pullers of Kolkata.
Flying kites on a Sunday afternoon with slum kids over railroad tracks. Sitting along a
cliff watching an impending storm approach from the ocean. Attending an Indian
wedding and celebrating life in Delhi. Speaking to an old woman about what it was like
to meet Ghandi.
We nearly completed a full circle around India: Delhi. Varanasi. Bihar. Jarkhand. West
Bengal. Kolkata. Chennai. Bangalore. Coonoor. Goa. Ahmedabad. Rajhastan. Mumbai.
But after 2 months, I feel I am in no place to tell you about my understandings of India. It
is a culture rooted in thousands of years of history, and I merely played the part—
skimmed the surface. However, I think I learned a little about human nature in which I
can share with you. I met people along the way that certainly challenged my view of life
and the world, and I think could challenge yours.
I learned if you go searching life for the negative things, you will find it. If you go
searching life for the positive things, you will find it. I think one will leave you much
more satisfied. And along the journey, have peace of mind!
In Delhi, at the beginning of our trip, a man asked us, “what will you do with your film?”.
I told him my thoughts of giving back to the people we meet along our journey in India.
He answered, “but how does a river flow down a mountain? Does it give water back
upstream?”. The journey has taught me a valuable lesson: pay it forward.
I do not think we need to travel the world to make great discoveries. However, there
comes a time when we need to challenge the context of the world we perceive around us.
For me, going to India changed the context of my world. Made me uncomfortable. I was
able to recognize things in people that I have let go unnoticed in much of my life.
I had the immense pleasure to grow close with two friends, Colin and Kumar. We learned
much about ourselves through our interactions with one another. At the end of the trip, I
asked Kumar, “Are you proud of what we were able to accomplish?”. He replied, “I do
not think “proud” is the right word. More appropriately, I feel overwhelmed with a
gratefulness to have had this opportunity.”
I could not have said it any better.
September 3rd, 2010
This first story is about stars, and how
dreams are realized.
Change the context of your world,
Change your content with the world.
Then you can change the world.
-Professor Anil Gupta, August 25th, 2:00 PM, Ahmadabad, Gujarat.
At the beginning of our trip, we spent time with a young man in Delhi named Rikin
Gandhi. He is a brilliant computer scientist that has turned his focus away from the
computer screen and onto the fields of India. He started an organization called Digital
Green. They provide the tools to farmers to generate media. It allows them to create a
forum to share ideas and accelerate innovation in their communities. Put simply, it is
American Idol for Indian farmers. Nearly 40% of India is media dark, and 60% of the
population is dependent on agriculture. This fills quite a gap.
In the middle of our conversation, Rikin told us that he used to want to be an astronaut. “I
loved reading the first hand accounts of people that have been to space. You won’t find a
single person that wasn’t profoundly affected by the experience. They see earth, floating
there. No strings attached. Just floating! The beauty of our home. The fragility of our
existence. They see humanity. And when they return, they find a way to connect to the
very roots of it. Some become teachers. Farmers. Although I’m no longer working to be
an astronaut, that idea still drives me everyday in my work here.”
The words Rikin said stuck in my head. Two weeks after Delhi, we ended up at a home
for polio kids in Bihar. There were nearly 300 children sitting on the floor the evening we
arrived, waiting patiently. My own personal hero is Joseph Kittinger. I decided to tell
Joseph’s life story (translated by a friend, with my own twist!).
I told them a story about a boy who grew up on a farm. He dreamed of going to
outerspace. Man started war. The boy joined the air force. His plane was shot down. He
was hurt, but it didn’t stop his dream. He had his first taste of flying! He took up a hot air
balloon, and went around the earth. Near the end, his balloon crashed in the desert. He
was hurt, but it didn’t stop him. He had just seen the world around from up there. But
still, he was unsatisfied. He had always dreamed of space. And one day, he climbed into
his balloon, and went straight up. Up, and up, and up! When he reached space, it was the
most beautiful site he had ever beheld. He jumped. He floated down for 13 minutes and
45 seconds. And when he came back down to earth, he had finally seen it for its true
beauty. He returned back to his father’s farm.
“Hey guys, we should meet the first Indian that went to outerspace”. “Has an Indian
ever been space?” “No clue. Google it.”
Indeed, India has had one astronaut go to space. His name is Rakesh Sharma. He lives in
a remote town in Tamil Nadu called Coonoor. He stepped out of the public light long
ago. We reached out to a friend in Chennai in the morning, asking him to connect us with
Rakesh. By evening, we had his number.
He said he was apprehensive to do interviews, but would make an exception because his
son is a filmmaker. A couple of days later, we were driving seven hours south of
Bangalore into the most beautiful place I have ever seen on planet earth. The rolling
mountains of Tamil Nadu. Tea country. Green steps climbing up into a beautiful, sunny,
blue sky. Windows rolled down. We reached his home by late afternoon.
He lives on top of a mountain with his wife and mother (seemingly the only place
suitable for someone who has been to space). It is a place where you feel the world stop.
He is soft spoken and kind, and an incredibly thoughtful man. His home was built from
the mud in those very hills, runs on solar power, and harvests rainwater. We sat for the
next three hours in his office and listened to him tell his journey, what it was like in those
moments in space, what it felt like to look down at earth for the first time, and how it had
Near the end of our trip, we met a young man named Taaget. He lives in Ahmadabad and
is 26-years-old. He failed 12th standard when he was 18-years-old, and dropped out there
after. He has dedicated his life to teaching children about astronomy. His home is filled
with books about astronomy and odd space collectables. He built a telescope and brings it
to poor and impoverished areas around the city. He often works in the slums, and recently
traveled to the war-torn parts of Kashmir to speak in front of the children (they stopped
him at the border because his telescope looked like a rocket launcher). He said, “when we
look up at the stars, we all see the same thing. We are all apart of the same home. It
doesn’t matter our country origin, our religion, nor our caste. It holds the same beauty
for all of us.”
We visited the home of the great Mahatma Ghandi. Albert Einstein once said of this man:
“Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever
in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” We felt an amazing peacefulness and energy
in that place. On one side of the ashram was a small home, essentially a gated courtyard.
Today, 150 children live there. They all come from the Untouchables, the lowest caste in
Indian society. Their parents are sweepers, sanitation workers.
On Kumar’s last night in India, we arranged to have Taaget bring his telescope to the
home that evening for the kids to view. We found a classical music school called Saptak
and asked them if they would be interested in performing at the Ghandi Ashram that
evening for 150 children. They obliged.
It turned out to be one of the most magical nights of my entire life. I have provided an
MP3 of the song that was performed (located in the original Kickstarter message).
The song was written by the founder of Saptak. I looked across at the children. All their
attention focused on the performers. I saw children pretending to play sitar. I felt so full
of life at that moment!
The man that has run the Ghandi home for more than 15 years came up to me during the
performance....tears in his eyes, but a big smile on his face. "I'm so sorry, but I have to
go. My grandmother has just passed on. Thank you for tonight."
After the performance, the children lined up to look through the telescope. They had
never seen one in their life. The sky was cloudy (it is to be expected during monsoon
season), but the moon made an appearance every so often. The children were told that if
they prayed, the moon would come out--but if one of them opened their eyes, then it
would vanish behind the clouds. It was quite beautiful. It didn’t matter to these kids if this
was fact or not. It was true to them because they chose to believe it. The headmistress
began yelling at the children to go to sleep, but they demanded they stay up until every
child had seen the moon through the telescope.
I later asked a professor named Anil Gupta, what changed about the world when man
went into outerspace? He answered, “it changed everything. It changes the context of our
world. The possibilities of what we can accomplish turn to infinity. No longer are we
held down by the possibilities of this place.” He paused for a moment. “I think about the
boy with the telescope. He cannot take the children to the stars, so instead he brings the
stars to them. How lovely!”
Babar Ali is 17-years-old. He is the world’s youngest headmaster. He started his school
when he was 9-years-old, and it has now grown to 955 students. He recently turned down
an offer from Oxford University. Instead, he attends Behrampur University, 15 minutes
from his home, so he can continue to grow his vision.
He has the characteristics of an aloof genius. He paints pictures with his hands in
conversation. A drawing in the air of the reach his school will have someday. “I will see
every child in India receive an education!” He raises his voice when he speaks
aspirationally. He speaks often of his biggest inspiration, the greatest of Indian educators,
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). He recited some of his poems in Bengali. Tagore
himself started a great University.
Babar paces around and often avoids eye contact. A wirey young boy. His father says he
does not swim anymore, although Babar claims he still does. He has a habit of twisting
the skin in the middle of his right cheek. I climbed up in a tree with him and picked Goa
fruit from his courtyard, and his sisters washed them for us. His students learn under the
sky in the same space. His great uncle came over and climbed 60 feet into a coconut tree.
We broke them open and sat around sharing the fruit.
Babar introduced us to the “The Honorable D.K. Ghosh”, a man that he calls his
“supreme counsel”. D.K. Ghosh is a fat man that broke his leg dancing recently. “And
now, the Honorable D.K. Ghosh will sing a song for you.” Babar said this with a smile on
his face--he always tries to hold back his smiles, which curl up the corners of his mouth. I
looked over at him, and I saw he was covering his mouth in an attempt to hold back a
laugh. His eyes darted at me, as if to give a hint at the joke. The Honorable D.K. Ghosh
was a terrible, terrible singer.
We decided to give Babar forty notebooks to use in his school in whatever manner he
chose. When we gave them to him, he took the notebooks out of the bag and began
inspecting them. I left the courtyard for a moment, and when I came back, I saw that he
was still looking over them, flipping through the pages, feeling the texture of the covers.
When Babar speaks about those educated, and those that are not, he speaks in terms of
the light and the darkness. Babar happens to have the only light in his entire village, two
solar powered flashlights donated to his family.
There was a night driving back from Babar’s school. Babar’s father was smoking
cigarettes profusely, exaggerating the sounds of his inhale and exhales. He speaks in
broken English. He leaned towards me, the lights from passing cement trucks hitting his
face. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where words come out
from the depths of truth.” A quote from Tagore.
No matter how gifted a child is, the genius will never be realized if the environment is not
there to nuture it. His father was the first person to encourage Babar with his school. A
woman named Tulu in the village believed that girls need education, and has played a
vital role in convincing families to allow their daughters to attend. One of Babar’s former
female students is now his most valuable teacher. Everyday, she works from sunrise into
the afternoon as a house servant, and then walks to Babar’s school to teach.
An amazing moment happened where this girl drew bindi’s on the children’s faces with
chalk. A new symbol of pride.
Below is a collection of Polaroids, entitled “Family”.
The Rotas Hills.
Bihar happens to be the stronghold of the Maoist rebels, the Naxalites. We had our first
interaction with them before we even crossed the border. They shut down the border as
we were attempting to cross into the state. We waited for two hours and played chess.
Then out of nowhere….“quick! The border is open!”
For a week we stayed in a residence that was 10 kilometers from a place called the Rotas
Hill. This is the Naxal stronghold in Bihar, and consists of about 400 villages. It is
literally on a hill, and there are only two entry points (each one heavily guarded and
monitored by the Naxals). Not the paradigm place we would want to go when capturing
stories about positivity. But what makes a story all the more inspiring is when it is done
against great odds.
We heard an incredibly inspiring story from a young girl in Rotas Hill who was the first
woman in recent history to successfully standup against her arranged child marriage (a
tradition still practiced and accepted in the region). An untold civil rights leader. There
were many of these stories of immense courage that we found there.
There are only two organizations that work in Rotas Hill: the Naxals, and another
organization called GEMS. This organization worked to build a Hindi-medium school in
the area. Over the past three years, they have built trust with the local people and
volunteers travel daily to the school. Despite these efforts, it was only several months ago
that the Naxals blew up the school at night. However, relations have improved since then.
GEMS supported us to go there and offered to guide us…under one condition: that only
Kumar go. Because of the anti-Western sentiment in the area, they said taking any
recognizable non-Indians could put lives at risk, and set back the progress back they say
their organization has made. Kumar ended up making the journey. The day he went,
hostages were being released. A story I will leave for him to tell.
During this time, we met with girls that had escaped from child prostitution. This was the
most emotional part of our entire journey, and the only part of the trip I regret. Some of
these girls had escaped their situation only weeks earlier. We interviewed them to get
them to speak about their past. However, this sometimes does more damage than good. A
child is not always ready to speak about a traumatizing experience.
A time I will certainly never forget.
the girl boxers of Chalkari.
We were the first Westerners in recent memory to enter this remote village in the
mountains of Jarkhand. We were told that a boxing ring had been set up in this village
about a year ago. We expected to find built young men with boxing gloves. What we
found instead were young girls.
Women empowerment is not the intent of the organization. The intent is to train the girls
to become boxers in the hope that they can compete in local competitions. However,
something else happens along the way. It gives the girls something that can be rare to
find in this society: individuality.
Education, healthcare, power, and women’s empowerment are all central pillars to rural
development. However, hope is a good place to start. Boxing plants the idea that perhaps
they can do more with their life than simply marry and have children.
the reporters of Patna.
Choti Choti Bate is a human rights journalism group in Patna run completely by children.
They have a newspaper and a radio program that has nearly half a million listeners. The
children are the reporters, which allows stories to be reported on that otherwise would
never have been told.
A 13-year-old girl told a story she reported on about a hotel that depended on child labor
to run their operations. They treated the children unfairly and payed them menial wages.
The children organized and went on strike against the hotel. They ultimately had their
conditions and wages improved.
A 10-year-old girl told a story about how her principal at the government school she
attends was charging 30 rupees per student for tuition. The law states that in her district,
the schools can charge no more than 20 rupees. She filed a complaint with a local
government official, and the principal ultimately dropped the fee down to 20 rupees.
We asked them, “Are you ever in fear?” They all chimed in unison, “Nahi!”
What is society?
Gyanesh started Husk Power Systems, a company that recycles discarded rice husks to
generate power. They have provided power to over 60,000 rural villagers. He grew up in
Bihar, one of the most backward states of India. He left for America as soon as he had the
chance. Gyanesh said he spent much of his life running away from his past, but ultimatey
knew he had to return to his roots. Sitting and speaking with him, I knew I was in the
presence of a true visionary.
I asked him, what does it mean to transform society? He said in reply, “what is society?
Is society your family? Is it your community? Is it the world? Society is what you make it
out to be. I have chosen society to be the world, and I have dedicated my life to changing
it. But although my view may be different than yours, it does not make your view of
the school run by children.
We spent time at an organization called Manzil. It means “destination” in Hindi. A school
in which the children are the teachers. They shape their own education. The kids make
their own classes, and the other children sign up for them. There are computer classes,
dance classes, English classes, music classes to name a few. It costs nothing for the
students to attend. However, if a student arrives late for class, they have to pay a fee.
Ravi Gulati runs Manzil out of his home. There is no part of his home in which children
can’t come off the streets and change to their liking. We spent a week with them.
There was a girl who spent three years in a bed after having typhoid fever. She lost
hearing in one of her ears. Dancing makes her feel more alive than anything else in the
world. She will be a great dancer.
A boy told us a story about how he became lost climbing in the Himalayas at night with
two friends. The only thing that saved them was their ability to follow the lights of a
small town back to safety.
We have the power to choose the way
we want to live our lives.
We met a 17-year-old boy in Delhi, living in a shelter home for former slum kids. His
name is Pradeep. An amazing human being. We sat on a roof top and listened to his story.
He grew up in a two story home in Delhi. His father was a successful businessman.
However, he made some poor choices and lost his business, and ultimately his home.
Pradeep and his family ended up in the street. His father couldn’t care for them properly,
and sent Pradeep and his brother to Bihar to live with their grandparents. Pradeep’s
brother worked in the fields, but Pradeep was young and did not have the stamina to
labor. His grandparents beat him. Pradeep and his brother ran away back to Delhi. When
they arrived, the found their father had died.
They lived in the streets for over a year. It was at this time Pradeep and his brother
choose two different paths. Pradeep choose to join the shelter home, and his brother
joined a gang. Several months ago, his brother was murdered. It was at this time that
Pradeep began preparing for his entrance exam for Hotel Management. He says he thinks
about his brother everyday. His dream is to start his own hotel, and buy back the home he
grew up in.
Sometimes we go searching for
cathedrals, but do not find what we are
looking for. Instead, we find something
much closer to ourselves. A home. This
is taken word for word from my notebook.
Kolkata. Roof top. Sometime in late July. Sitting on the rooftop of the Sunflower Guest
House. Nighttime. Colin and Kumar are sleeping. From here, I can see across the entire
city. The glowing hubs of activity. The darks spots of the slums. Up there on the roof, I
am the master of the city. I am the humble servant of the city. I look up. The stars
scattered across like broken glass in the night sky. I notice a cable above me for the first
time. The outlines of shirts on a clothesline. Down in the street below, tired workers
sleeping on truck beds. Hauling stones all day. A man on a cellphone walking by. A
rickshaw whizzing, zipping through the narrow passage. A guard outside sleeping in his
And I look across, and there is an infinite expanse of buildings. From here, it might as
well go on forever. I pick a spot out there. I step up to the edge of the building, and leap.
And then the world really starts moving! The sleeping outlines of apartments become my
playground. I land on a roof below and tumble into a roll. I keep the momentum moving.
Next roof. I’m so quiet. I am no superhero, but at that moment…I could do anything. And
so, I picked a spot out there. A cathedral steeple in the far distance.
1 A.M. Kolkata. Sunflower Guest House Rooftop.
I walked down into the street below. Nothing is there. Well, everything is there that was
in the day, but sleeping. An occasional rickshaw. Besides that, only the dogs. They are
nocturnal in this city. In the cool night, no one bothers them. They were in and out from
under the resting trucks. And I am here sitting in the street with the dogs. A cathedral on
I walk up to a rickshaw puller. He is sleeping under his rickshaw. A gaunt man with
white hair. Looks 65, probably 40. There is no one else around. I stand over him for a
moment, and then decide to wake him up. I ask for directions. He looks at me confused
and perturbed, unable to understand my English. I walk away. 20 meters back, the
rickshaw puller is still standing there. A gaze fixed on me below a street lamp, the
blinking red lights flashing across his taut skin. I walk back and offer him 20 rupees for
disturbing his sleep.
I hail a taxi. The cathedral sir. CA. THEE. DROLL. I sketch an outline of a steeple. He
stares blankly back at me. 100 rupees. I get in.
1:22 AM. Streets of Kolkata.
We drive through unlit streets. Left turn. Right turn. Left turn. Left turn. I’m sitting in the
backseat. On the left side. With the window down. I show off my extensive catalogue of
Hindi vocabulary. Mera nam Alex hai. Me America se hu. I am bis years old. –this is
about it- We drive for another 10 minutes. He asks me for directions intermittently. I fail
to be of any help. It my first night in the city of Kolkata (give me a few days to figure out
these streets!). He is lost and I am lost.
We arrive to an open street. 2 lanes in one direction. Non-descript buildings. Looks like
every other street I had seen in India. He slows down the car and points to a building.
“Mother Theresa’s home”.
I tell him to stop the car. I exit. The building is a big grey box. Nothing to it. No fan-faire.
No large, epic portrait of Mother Theresa. Bars over the tiny windows. On the side a tiny,
worn plaque…”Mother Theresa’s Home.” I stay for a time and sit and reflect in front of
it. Sometimes miraculous things happen in the most ordinary of places.
1:40 AM. Kolkata Streets.
We continue driving. After stopping and consulting with a police officer for directions,
the driver now understands I am trying to get to the cathedral. We drive in silence across
the city. We arrive in front of the cathedral. There is a long driveway leading to its doors.
But trees blocked my view, and I was unable to behold its grandeur. A guard approaches
the iron clad gate. I ask him if I can enter. He me a flat no. “We open at 9 AM”. He walks
away back to his stoop.
The driver is leaning against the hood of his car. I join him. I imagine his curiosity of
what the hell I am doing. I tell him to keep driving. Take me somewhere.
2 AM. Kolkata streets leading back home.
It was getting early. The driver turned back to the guest house. An additional 250 rupees.
Sometimes we go searching for cathedrals, but do not find what we are looking for.
Instead, we find something much closer to ourselves. A home.
Jugaadoo: A working title for our film.
Jugaad- A Hindi word introduced to us by a young girl in Delhi named Shalu. There is no
direct Hindi to English translation. It essentially means to take advantage of one’s
immediate environment in order to find a solution--innovation that comes out of a
scarcity of resources.
“The villager was tired of sitting on dirt. She reached up and took a large leaf off a tree,
and smiled a big wide smile as she sat on her new mat.”
“Why did washing machines sell so well when they were first came to market in Punjab?
They were used to make lassi (essentially Indian milkshakes).”
We saw Jugaad implemented by nearly everyone we met. They found shortcuts around
their circumstances to find a solution to their problem that may not have been obvious.
What the film will look like:
"Oftentimes, really powerful ideas are presented in very clinical language. But people
connect with emotional storytelling, and these ideas need to be humanized so they can
reach the most people possible."- Jesse Dylan, filmmaker.
Upon completion, the film will be placed online for free viewing. We have about 90
hours of footage. To organize this into a 1.5 hour film will take us a little bit of time. We
are aiming for a release date of April 2011. This will be around the same time the
soundtrack will be complete. We appreciate your patience in this process.
Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of One Laptop Per Child, once said in regards to his
mission: “this is not a laptop project. This is an education project.” I take inspiration from
this line. I believe that this is not a film project. This is an education project.
Education should start a conversation in which everyone is a participant. I believe this is
where the most valuable learning is rooted. We hope to be able to build a conversation
around the film in which everyone has an opportunity to contribute.
The vision of the final product is a multi-dimensional, interactive piece. Imagine the
film as a river network. You have the main river flow (the film). However, there are
branches that go off. Perhaps there are 6 minutes in the film on Manzil, the alternative
education school in Delhi. If I am particularly interested in this part of the film, I can go
off the main stream and into this branch. I can learn more about Manzil. Watch
additional footage. See photographs. I can stay in this pond for a while and fish for ideas.
I may take fish from this pond, and I may leave my own. Perhaps contribute content
about other schools around the world that take a similar approach to Manzil. Or begin a
discussion thread about why I may disagree with their approach. How far the river flows
depends on how far people are willing to travel.
I have yet to see a documentary that does anything like this, and we are very excited to
explore this option.
“The Journey Makes Life Worth Living
(our last moments in India…for now!)”
It poured down rain on our last day in India. We went down to the water in Mumbai, in
front of the gateway of India. Colin took a piece of cardboard and wrote “THE
JOURNEY MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING (our last moments in India….for now!).
We were nearly the only people without umbrellas, soaking up the rain. We took a
photograph with the sign. I left it on the ground, with my shoes next to it. I had worn
them the entire trip through India, and they were nearly falling apart.
Later that night, just before the taxi was coming to take us to the airport, Colin and I went
down to the water again to see if anyone had messed with our sign. When we arrived, it
was still resting there. Except my shoes were gone.
Someone had taken them, but left their own.
“One last thought….for now!”
To live a life for our world is to live a life in which you give your existence to see that the
world you leave is better than the world you came into. This why we are here. This is
why we exist. I wrote this sitting with Colin and Kumar on a rooftop in Bangalore. I
believed it then, and I believe it now.
There are moments of doubt along any journey. But there are profound moments that
reassures us of our own potential, of our traveling companions, of our mission, and of
Moments where I find myself sitting underneath the stars, caught between the leaves of
coconut trees. "Was that a shooting a star?" West Bengal. Babar Ali sitting next to me.
The world’s youngest headmaster. His brother holding the only flashlight in the entire
village on him. Babar explaining to me why he turned down an offer to attend Oxford
University. Telling me a story of the poet that inspires him. What his favorite fruit is.
And I keep asking myself, how in the hell did we get here? Am I dreaming? And then I
remember. Ah yes, that’s right. You are why.
We can’t thank you enough.