The Power of Community

I wipe my green mesh sponge on the soapy dish and scrub the steel plate squeaky clean. And then I pass my plate down the assembly line. One by one, our workload increases, and soon enough, we have a pile of dishes laid out in front of us from the numerous customers at the Seva Cafe. The concept of a Seva Cafe is very simple yet meaningful. It is completely run by volunteers, who cook and clean for the cafe customers. The customers do not pay for their meal, albeit donate an amount that they deem fit for the meal of the next customer, and the cycle continues.

One very vivid memory that has been etched into my mind is that of a little girl, 10 years old at best, lugging around a heavy jug of water. I observed her carefully as she poured water into glasses, struggling with the size of the jug, yet staying determined to complete her task. On emptying the jug to the last drop, she would run back for more water and continue her job. And that was when it hit me. If someone as small as her could contribute in her own meaningful way, why couldn’t we pitch in to help as well?

Five of us finished our meal heartily and set to work on the task. However, none of us had anticipated what awaited us. As soon as we entered the busy throng in the kitchen, we were directed to the wash basins. Almost at once, we were thrust into the work of cleaning about 30 dishes at a time. Our delicate hands were not used to doing such work, and we struggled to keep up with the pace of the increasing pile of dishes being dumped in front of us. We scrubbed, rinsed and dried with such energy that my hands felt like they were about to fall off. After about 40 minutes or so, our clothes were completely drenched, our hair partly covered in soap and our pile was still increasing. But most importantly, our spirits were not broken. We left the Cafe feeling satisfied and content with ourselves.

The Seva Cafe to me epitomized the concept of community. All of us come from a very fast-paced form of life, where individualism surpasses the true meaning of society. Ahmedabad as a whole seemed to provide a warm feeling of community and promoted the welfare of others. Everywhere we went, we were greeted by a group of people who pinned handmade paper flowers on us. The flowers spread the message of these 5 words – Love, Truth, Beauty, Hope and Give – simple words which enhanced the true meaning of community. I felt positive vibrations from each and every person we met in Ahmedabad, for they were all happy, grateful, and took pride in their community and city.

It is said that what goes around, comes around. I truly feel that this trip helped all of us realize the true meaning of being united for a purpose, and always being there for each other. The Ahmedabad trip brought our group much closer together, and the spirit of the city started to grow on us. We managed to accomplish a lot in our four days, and returned back to Mumbai with a cocktail of emotions and feelings in our hearts.

Not only did the trip help us to come together as a group, but it also helped us to delve deeper into ourselves as individuals. We began to contemplate and ponder about what kind of people we were becoming from a completely new perspective. We were given a lot of opportunities to reflect – whether it was through meditation, the silent dinner, or simply the peaceful and relaxing atmosphere surrounding us.

I believe that we have all come back from Ahmedabad as changed persons. Perhaps we have only become more confused as to what our true purpose in life is, both as individuals and global citizens of society. If there is one thing that I have learnt from the trip, it is that we can never know exactly what is right and what is wrong. The only thing we have real control over is ourselves. Our heart and soul is like a treasure chest, and only we possess the power to unlock it and discover the deep jewels hidden inside.


The Cathedral and John Connon School