Driving up to Massachusetts to meet the rest of the Niswarth gang, my mother and I were met with several unforeseen complications. First, thirty minutes into our nine-hour drive, I realized I forgot my malaria pills on my desk at home. Whoops! This meant turning around and essentially starting over. Second, while on the highway in Connecticut, we were rear ended by another car. Thankfully no one was hurt and everything is okay! It seems that even when you have a plan or when everything seems to be going accordingly to plan things can come up which can derail you, shake you up, and get you off track.
These incidents make me think of certain aspects of Gandhi’s autobiography which I read this past week in preparation for the trip. When we think about Gandhi, his life seems extraordinary. He did an inordinate amount of good work for India and beyond. But in coming up with his plan for satyagraha, active nonviolent resistance, he also met a number of obstacles and challenges. Inevitably, complications arose threatening Gandhi’s plans. However, Gandhi faced the challenges and dealt with complications. He didn’t give up. He was able regroup and move on. We often think of Gandhi as larger than life but inconvenient things happened to Gandhi too. Upon completing his schooling in England, he was unable to find work as a barrister in India. He had to accept a job in South Africa instead. There, Gandhi also worked as a social organizer campaigning for Indian rights in South Africa and became engaged in deep studies of religions. His work in South Africa gave him the experience and insight he needed to eventually develop satyagraha and unite the Indians. His work with religion gave him a direction in which to point his efforts to: “What I want to achieve,- what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years,- is self realization, to see God face to face, to attain Moksha... All that I do by way of speaking and writing, and all my ventures in the political field, are directed to this same end”. Ultimately, the challenges Gandhi faced and how he dealt with them contributed to his great work in India.
As I think about boarding the plane at Logan Airport tomorrow I also realize that our trip to India is bound to have a good amount of complications and challenges. However, we should follow Gandhi’s example. As Mr. Mundra says, we just need to “go with the flow”. When things come up, we will figure it out. When I realized my malaria pills were at home we turned around and got them. When we were rear ended, we pulled over to the side of the road. I am confident that we will be able to recover and benefit from any complications we might have. As the saying goes, “flexible people never get bent out of shape”. In a day the Niswarth gang will be headed to India, or at least that’s the plan.