I was planning about how many days should I take off from work, when to travel, where to stay, what to pack and what to do those three days in Delhi. I booked a nice hotel via Sumeru, made arrangement to get Indian sim card, planned how much money to take with me and even notified the bank that I would be using my Credit Card in India.
Slowly things seemed to come together. I had put a lot of thoughts and had carefully planned each and every part of the travel. As the day was getting close, I refined the plan several times and made sure that there won't be any last minute surprises. I thought, what a wonderful plan this had turned out to be and was getting more and more confident every day about the travel. I wanted to make sure that every thing is thought through and the travel is as comfortable as it could be. Little did I know that the Nature had a totally different plan for me.
When I woke up on the day of the travel, I noticed I had over slept. I was more than an hour behind schedule but I was still confident. After all I had planned every single hour of this travel. What could possibly go wrong?. When I opened my eyes after the morning meditation, I noticed I was very much behind the schedule.
As we drove to the Caltrain station, the morning rush had already begun and we were stuck in a traffic jam. The traffic was moving so slow that my Plan A (catch 9:00 train), Plan B (catch 9:15 train) and Plan C (catch 9:30 train) all failed. We arrived at the station after narrowly missing 9:30 train. The next train was only at 10:05 which would make it difficult to be on time for checking in at the airport. I started to worry a bit if I would make it on time for check in at the airport.
I ran to the taxi stand hoping to take a taxi to the airport. Atleast that should get me to the airport on time, I thought. But when i reached the taxi stand, it was all empty and it made me anxious.
Having no other options, I took the caltrain and all through the journey I was praying that I should reach the airport on time. Just then, the Caltrain broke down near Burlingame. The Caltrain officials had no clue what went wrong and did not know how long will it take to fix it. All they could tell was a technician was on the way.
I started to feel desperate. After taking a few deep breaths, i called a taxi which arrived in 10 minutes. I explained my situation to the taxi driver. He really did a good job and dropped me in San Francisco International Departure as fast as he could. I thanked him much.
At the check in counter, I told the official, that I'm late and requested her to let me check in for the flight. She looked at my travel plan and said, "Sir, your flight was at 12:00 early morning and you are here at 11:00 after noon. You have already missed your flight"
That moment, it felt as if all my planning fell apart. All my hope of attending World Cultural Festival just vanished. Felt totally helpless and empty.
Part of me said, there will be a way, drop all your doership and pray for help. I closed my eyes and prayed.
I asked the lady at the counter, "So, what do I do now? What are my options? I really have to go to Delhi. Help me"
She said there is another flight leaving in an hour and she can transfer my booking to it. "There will be a small No Show fine for missing your flight", she said and asked me "Do you like a window seat or aisle?". My eyes were lit and the heart was filled with joy. I told her she was God sent to me, grabbed the boarding pass and ran to the security check.
She warned that the connection in Singapore is very tight. I looked at the Singapore - Delhi boarding pass. It had only the boarding time and not the actual departure time. The boarding time was given as 1:30 a.m.
Our flight got very much delayed in Seoul, South Korea. It was 1:30 a.m. and time for boarding the Singapore - Delhi flight but we still haven't landed in Singapore yet. Once again the feeling of uncertainty gripped me and I again prayed for help.
We landed only at 1:45 a.m. in Singapore and by the time I got of the plane it was 2:00 a.m. We ran to the terminal for the connection and we made it just on time. We were the last ones to board the Delhi flight. They closed the door as soon as we boarded and began preparations for take off.
Reached Delhi and I went to the hotel which I booked through Sumeru. Looks like Sumeru changed my hotel reservation to a different hotel and did not communicate this clearly to me. I also did not pay much attention to the detail in their email and was totally unaware of this change. When I checked in at the hotel, they not only didn't find my reservation and did not have any vacancy. I insisted that i need a room. The manager found out that one room would be vacated in an hour and requested me to be patient. He gave me some tea, setup wifi on my phone, showed me the wash room, gave me my indian sim card and helped me set it up. I got a place to stay.
The World Cultural Festival was a treat to the Eyes and Ears. There were wonderful Performances by people from all around the World. It was such an splendid event that the mind was stuck with wonder looking at the sheer Magnanimity and the Size of the Event. Every single performance was co-ordinated so beautifully and so perfectly. The whole program execution seemed perfect and flawless. Thousands of artists who have practised separately for the event, performed in unison on the stage on their very first attempt. There were Songs, Dance performances, Music and Renditions by people of so many different cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities.
It was a huge stage. Guruji Sri Sri said the stage is an Engineering Marvel that no foundations were laid and it is a floating structure.
There were dignitaries from all over the world. Guruji Sri Sri was invited by both the Australian and British Prime Ministers to hold the next World Cultural Festival in their respective countries.
It appeared as if everybody wanted to be part of this event. The Rain God showered.
The Sun God put out a nice 'Sun Set' Performance. The Clouds had some mesmerizing formation. All of this combined with the lighting arrangements on the Stage, was a Sight to see and behold.
Guruji Sri Sri has successfully brought together a large section of people from different religions, faiths and backgrounds. Only such events give the much needed Hope and Faith to the Humanity.
Sitting next to me, was a lady from Mongolia. She didn't speak English or any local language. I communicated with her using signs. I wonder how she managed to get there. Every time Guruji appeared on the stage, her face lit up so bright and she took selfies with the stage in the background. One could hardly make out Guruji being so far from the stage but that didn't matter at all. When ever we saw Guruji waving his hands on the big screen, the crowd would cheer all out. It was magical.
It was so evident that Guruji Sri Sri has reached out to so so many millions of people all around the world and touched many many lives. I felt it was a great privilege to participate in the World Cultural Festival. I enjoyed it thoroughly, met so many diverse people, danced in the rain, forgot pretty much everything mundane in life.
I personally met and interacted with people from Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Mongolia, Malaysia, Several Arab Countries, several Indian States, Australia, Canada, etc., Everyone seemed so happy to have come to World Cultural Festival inspite of what ever they had to go though to get here.
We we all meditated, I only remember closing my eyes. Don't know what happened afterwards. Then we heard, "You can slowly and gradually open the eyes". Don't how long that was. Don't know what happened. It was an Awesome Meditation for World Peace.
I had a wish to meet my Art of Living Friends in India. But where will I go searching for them in that 3.5 million strong gathering. But, on the second day while returning back to the hotel, I casually ran into them. I was very happy to meet Sreenivasan, Ramki, Bala and others.
The next day one Volunteer who was responsible for the hotel <-> venue transport, showed us what appeared to be a sewage pond. It was filled with bushes, the water was dark, muddy and a strong stench was coming out of it that no one went near it. He said that is part of the Yamuna river running in that place and it has been like that ever since. It was so sad to see the state of the river. Only Art of Living has been involved in the cleaning of the river. It seemed much more cleaning was needed. It appeared as if no one else was involved. But a few days before the World Cultural Festival, a few people suddenly raised allegations against Art of Living that it is polluting Yamuna though Art of Living is the only Organization that has done cleanup work in Yamuna.->
Every News Channel and Media started spreading these allegations as if they were waiting for this moment. Every single information was blown out of proportion in what appeared to be an organized act to defame Sri Sri and Art of Living.
Sri Sri stayed very calm through out. The way he handled these issues and kept his poise through out is remarkable. It is a privilege to be Guruji's disciple. Bringing together millions of people from different religions, backgrounds, ethnicity and countries together for World Peace is not a small task. Guruji His Holiness Sri Sri has been doing this many times now. The media don't seem to be interested in reporting this phenomena but only shows interest to blow up and report baseless allegations. So sad.
Felt so happy for attending World Cultural Festival and so grateful for Guruji Sri Sri for organizing one and the family for all their support.
Jai Gurudev !!!