Happy Diwali from Matt, Tushar (and the other 400 million)

Happy Diwali everyone! We hope you all are having a great time at home this festive season. With all your encouragement, our experiment has ended successfully. But, we wish we could tell you that we are excited that it’s all over. Wish we could tell you that we are happy to have our “normal” lives back. Wish we could say that our sumptuous celebratory feast two nights ago was as satisfying as we had been hoping for throughout our experiment. There was nothing wrong with the food. In fact, it probably was one of the best meals we’ve ever had, packed with massive amounts of love from our hosts. However, each bite was a sad reminder of the harsh reality that there are 400 million people in our country for whom such a meal will remain a dream for quite some time. That we can move on to our comfortable life, but they remain in the battlefield of survival – a life of tough choices and tall constraints. A life where freedom means little and hunger is plenty.

This realization lives with us this festive season. We know that even the poor spend time and money to celebrate festivals. We also know that however hard life might sound at that income level, it is a life filled with stories of fortitude and hope. Some maybe less fortunate than others monetarily, but they aren’t necessarily less happy. But it disturbs us to spend money on most of the things that we now consider excesses. Do we really need that hair product or that branded cologne? Is dining out at expensive restaurants necessary for a happy weekend? At a larger level, do we deserve all the riches we have around us? Is it just plain luck that we were born into circumstances that allowed us to build a life of comfort? What makes the other half any less deserving of many of these material possessions, (which many of us consider essential) or, more importantly, tools for self-development (education) or self-preservation (healthcare)?

We don’t know the answers to these questions. But we do know the feeling of guilt that is with us now. Guilt that is compounded by the love and generosity we got from people who live on the other side, despite their tough lives. We may have treated them as strangers all our lives, but they surely didn’t treat us as that way. From those that we met on the street to those that we spent greater time with or lived with, we only received encouragement and caring advice for our endeavor, despite our obvious awkwardness. This is perhaps something many of us, who are among the “neo-rich”, can learn from, before getting frustrated at the waiters/drivers/servants/fellow bus passengers, who we expect to behave in the way we want them to, despite whatever troubles they maybe going through in their lives or however hungry they maybe, physically or emotionally. In the last month, they never haggled with us before giving us that ride down the road, the complementary nimbu, or that chai. Do we really have to haggle with them before settling on a price all the time?

As you celebrate Diwali, we urge you to think about the other half of the country; their hopes, dreams, frustrations, and challenges. Perhaps our reaction is only temporary, but we certainly hope that the perspective and the compassion this experiment has instilled in us lasts much beyond this October. A feeling that we hope you will share as well on this Diwali.


9 Comments to “Happy Diwali from Matt, Tushar (and the other 400 million)”

  1. Matt and Tushar.
    Thank you for sharing your journey and thoughts with us.For many of us who have only lived in cities and never had to worry about having a roof over our heads or the next meal- this has been an awakening. Of course we were surrounded by beggars and poor people but few of us had a social conscience. People like you will drive a change …..
    I hope you have a guilt free Diwali…you guys have done more in 1 month than most of us in a lifetime!! Kudos

  2. Guys, Wish you both a very Happy Diwali! I am truly impressed and touched by your message. At the very least, we need to value what we have today…but I hope each of us uses the immense privileges we have today to do something, be it just a wee bit, for those who aren’t as fortunate as we are.

    Happy Diwali again!

  3. Thank you for the inspiring idea! Can i hope dat is only a beginning and you will have some exclusive social plans for future… Best of luck:)

  4. Guys, your message was really inspiring and heart touching. I hope that many more people would pause to look around and make the realisations that you did. Wish you all the best.

  5. Amazing. Perspective and compassion was all I kept telling you ever missed and now that job is done 🙂 This is how you will become great, I know for sure.

  6. Simply extraordinary! An inspiring, touching and soul stirring experiment. Hope you are able to trigger off a social revolution of sorts that eventually wipes out the disparity that exists in society, I think if we could all join hands and clamour for the implementation of the bill for the unorganised sector which Baba Adhav is fighting for (remember he won the TOI’s Lifetime Contribution Award this year) it can have a huge impact on the poor downtrodden people. I think that the bill which ensures minimum wages for the unorganised sector will work like a magic wand in uplifting the poor labourers from their current poverty ridden existence. Eager to know your future plans.

  7. question is how can we contribute for the improvement of life of these 400 million plus, would it by paying our taxes to the Government on time, or making donations to those NGO’s who send our Tax Exemption certificates for filing our Tax Returns, or exercising our voting rights for the GREAT politicians who promise to help even election. i am in search for answers……..

  8. Hi Matt & Tushar,
    Its a good start and I congratulate both of you for this
    Can you please email me your contact information to keshavuppal@hotmail.com

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