Readers of Daily (w)rite, if you’re here, please welcome Anouradha Bakshi, my friend, philosopher and touchstone for more than a decade.
She runs Project WHY, a little non-profit with a large heart, in New Delhi.
For this whole week, she’s taking over Daily (w)rite.
Please give her all the love and attention you usually give me, because she merits it far more than I ever will.
For the Write Tribe Festival of Words it is my absolute pleasure to blog for Damyanti Biswas.
For this week I’ll be blogging on word prompts posted at the Write Tribe.
Serenity is the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled. Of equanimity, when you are able to accept whatever comes your way, even if if is not what you wanted.
It has taken me a long while to understand this, and eventually make it a way of life.
Many masters came my way –some spiritual, some not– urging me to look at life with serenity but the pitfalls were many in the early decades of my life. My life was so self-centred, and even a tad empty.
It was only when Project Why came into being that I understood that without serenity, I would not succeed. With Project Why, my actions impacted others; it was no longer a solo journey. There were many stumbling blocks, and the one way to overcome them was to accept those that could not be removed, and move on.
I remember the day we were told we could not teach slum kids in a park as the children were ‘dirty’. In earlier times I would have screamed and held my ground, but on that day I knew it was better to find another space.This is what has enabled Project Why to thrive for almost two decades.
Many masters at Project Why have taught me the meaning of serenity, especially my wonderful centre managers Rani and Dharmender who never give up no matter what the challenge.
Rani, in spite of her young age when she joined, impressed me with her way of handling situations and always finding the wise way out. She never got bogged down by her personal situation, which was grim, but managed to transform her life and that of her loved ones.
Dharmender never loses his cool. I have seen him handling angry parents or even an entire community, that was on the verge of turning against us, with calm and wisdom. He brought them to his side.
My amazing child Shamika has also been my teacher. She decided at the age of 15 to work with children with special needs and took on her peer group who could not understand why she left her life to work in slums. She handled her detractors with wisdom beyond her age and came out a winner.
Pushpa and Sophiya , my incredible teachers, had the ability to transform garbage dumps into temples of learning– taking on every blow that came their way, not shying from rebuilding the school each time it was brought down, and even cleaning the mess left behind every night by local drunkards.
Each one of them acted with serenity.
I have made serenity my mantra, no matter what life throws my way. I have had my share of misfortunes and hardships, but this attitude has helped me weather the storms.
Everything in perfection
Everything for a purpose
The universe always works in my favour
I allow and surrender
This mantra has allowed me to deal with my partner’s cancer without panic, and find alternative ways of healing that enabled him to bounce back. I could overcome my financial troubles that seemed insurmountable, and give up the house I grew up in without anger or recrimination. All of it passed, and the sun shone again.
Today, I am faced with the prospect of having to shut down a major part of Project Why.
I accept what is to come, and know that it will all be for the best. I simply have to soldier on with serenity!
Do you find it difficult to keep your calm in the face of challenges? How do you find serenity in a turbulent world?
Anouradha Bakshi is the descendant of an indentured labour and a freedom fighter, and the daughter of a senior diplomat. She travelled the world before settling in India.
A professor in French, an interpreter and a conference organiser, she found her true calling when she set up Project WHY in the year 2000.
She is a wife, and a mother not only to her two girls, but also to the scores of children whose dreams she holds in custody.
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I love this article!! I resonated with this a lot – it’s truly is so important to find a sense of serenity, peace, calm and a clear mind in this fast-paced, “turbulent” world that forgets what tranquility means at times. Unfortunately, we seem to live in a world that is constantly caught in a flurry of entitled-ness, selfishness, empty ambition, greed, anger and hatred. We lose touch with our humanity by placing so much importance on material success and status, rather than seeking wisdom, knowledge and connection with nature and from within ourselves! I find serenity and peace in nature – the one place in our world that has true, genuine connection with humanity. You are such an incredible role model for teens like myself! I love your writing, your blog and admire so much what you have made your life purpose. I hope to live a life like yours someday in the future. Thank you again.
Thank you for sharing!.. you are no doubt an inspiration for many!!… 🙂
“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” Frederick Buechner
Thank you for sharing this beautiful quote and for your warm words
The garden is where I am at peace.
Nature is the biggest stress buster. Sadly many do not understand this. Thank you for sharing your experience.
If one is like Dharmender, never losing his cool and facing anger with calm and wisdom, one will certainly experience inner serenity.
Yes Madhavi, Dharmendra never ceases to amaze and has been such an inspiration.
Hi Anouradha – ‘Serenity’ is a wonderful word … it calms one to say it … thankfully I’ve relaxed and become less agitated in recent decades … and it makes a difference. I accept what comes along and adjust accordingly … and hope that life will come right for many, but do what I can to help in the meantime and in my daily life – cheers HIlary
What a wise attitude Hilary. Thank you for sharing. Serenity is a wonderful and calming word and helps take on the vicissitudes of life.. Wish you peace and serenity. Hugs
lovely post and amazing project you have there! Very inspiring. How I find my serenity daily? I try it connect to what is around me. Take a picture and connect it with some thoughts, ideas that come through my mind that moment, that day. It’s crazy out there and in my mind at times, so connect towards myself helps. And through sharing I hope to inspire others and share with others that they are not alone out there.
Thank you so much your kind words. Connecting with yourself really helps regaining peace and calm. I also find it helps a lot. Thank you for sharing.
As you say, serenity is a wonderful tool. And acceptance – not meaning that whatever happens is okay, because sometimes it really isn’t – but having the wisdom to know what can be changed and what cannot.
Serenity is a wonderful too as you say and mastering the wisdom to know what can and cannot be changed is key. I am amazed at how well people like Pushpa and Sophiya have understood this. I learn every day.
It may be something that is easier to understand on an instinctive level than it is intellectually.
You are so right Mick..
Beautiful souls all of you. I find it quite easy to be serene at work, but in my personal life when there are incidents with loved ones, it is exceedingly hard and at that time my faith in God and thoughts focussed on Him help me through those times. Music also helps to bring me back to a state of calm. Nice post.
God bless you Suzy. You are right at times remaining calm is not easy. Music is calming and faith does steer you back to serenity.
What a beautiful post. How do I enter into moments of serenity? Reading blogs like this helps. Reading, prayer and meditation, time with nature, time with loved ones, spending some time give towards others or for a cause.
Thank you Simon. Your examples are so true. I often indulge in most of what you suggest and it works.
Your posts are always so inspiring Anoudi.. I was particularly impressed by Dharmendra who could handle calmly an angry community.
Thank you Balaka. You are so kind. Dharmendra is indeed very impressive and has been a rock in this journey. It is unbelievable how much he has taught me
Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. More power to you.?
Thank you Amarjeet for your kind words and support.
Indeed, circumstances make one learn things and everyone who comes into your life is a teacher. I too used to be very short tempered till I realised that agitation only makes a situation worse – calmness is what gets one through. I have been following your work at Project Why for a while now and commend you for your patience and dedication. The world needs people like you to inspire and change it for the better. I too would like to join your ilk but circumstances have made me delay this for another two years. My volunteer work for the past 13 years with an NGO for cancer kids ( SJICC) has been interrupted since the arrival of my grandchildren. But while I believe in helping others less fortunate, I also believe that charity begins at home and I am helping my daughters with their own professional careers. But I know that life will unfold the way it is meant to and once again I will get back to my volunteer work.
Thank you for you kind words. I feel humbled and overwhelmed. It is amazing how every soul you come across teaches you something. I have learnt so much from Project Why and my incredible team.
I can understand how grandchildren take all the space in our heart and life, I have one too but he lives thousand of miles away. I am sure you will get back to your volunteer work. I hope you will come and visit us at Project Why some day.
Hello Anouradha. It’s so nice to read about you and your journey. You are a very brave woman, and your endeavours vouch for your bravery and compassion. Yes, acceptance is very important, and it is a very tough lesson to learn. Adversity does lead to prosperity of mind and soul. Giving to others with the hope of making a positive difference is truly selfless. I hope that Project WHY is also able to emerge from the battles that surround it. Whatever happens, the journey will not end, sometimes a new turn is necessary for a new chapter to begin. God bless you and all those souls whose hearts you have touched.
Thank you Terveen for your warm words of support. I am deeply touched. You are right, sometimes a new turn is needed for new beginnings. I do hope that we will find the way ahead.
When our children become our teachers we know we’ve done something right! I so hope that your project will continue, but based on what I’ve read here about your resilience, I know it will.
My daughter has been my biggest teacher in more ways than one ! So I hope I have done something right! Thank you for your words of support. Things will work out. The efforts of so many has gone into creating our Okhla Centre and people like Pushpa and Sophiya deserve the best.
In stressful and challenging situations whether we react or respond, that makes the difference. In moments where we have zero control, focusing on what we can do in that moment helps a lot. Thanks for sharing your awe-inspiring journey, Anouradha! I am sure there will be a way and means to save and support Project WHY!
Thank you Shilpa for your warm words of support. You are right, in times of strife we have to just focus on the moment. I drawn inspiration from my incredible team, from women like Pushpa and Sophiya who are examples of serene courage and have taught me so much. For them and all the children I need to find a way of saving Okhla.
Serenity is that deep, inner peace. For me, it’s knowing God is in control no matter what happens. Thus, no reason to get stressed or worry. (Not that I don’t sometimes, but hey, I’m not perfect.)
We’ll keep praying you don’t have to shut down anything.
You are right Alex, serenity is inner peace, and the belief that all is well. Not always easy though.
Thank you for your prayers.It would be a shame if we have to close Okhla down as the children need us there as there is no other organisation and should we close they risk dropping out and losing the hope of fulfilling their dreams. And a wonderful team of teachers would lose their only source of income.