The Weekend That Was
Barring a few weddings of my loved ones and clients, I hadn’t experienced this scale of social gathering in the last two years. Bumping into complete strangers and having a non-stop conversation for three hours ranging from veganism to dating to privacy concerns — this was soulful. I needed this. We needed this.
It started with a WhatsApp message — an invitation to attend B.Cause| BIC Hub’ba. I love the venue — Bangalore International Centre in Domlur. I’ve fond memories of attending discussions and performances here from the pre-pandemic era. So I blocked my calendar, put out social media updates in case anybody else wanted to join in and went on to sync up with one friend so that I’m accountable and I show up for this event on a Saturday morning.
Commendable work by NGOs
The two-day event on February 26–27, 2022 aimed at familiarising ourselves with the work of various not for profit organisations operating in the city of Bengaluru. This meant I was surrounded by folks who are putting out a lot of goodness in the world. It’s up to us on how to engage with them — with our time, money or skills. I played with Muffin, the cute little pup. Just like him, there were other puppies who were up for fostering. One need not adopt them but can care for them for a month or whatever your bandwidth is. Fancy being a foster parent? Head to Let’s Live Together! Then there’s Charlie’s animal rescue centre doing incredible work with animal rescue, rehabilitation, adoption and more. Loved the work that PFA Wildlife Hospital is doing for wildlife rescue and conservation. Did you know owls are trapped, wings and beak clipped and sold for upwards of Rs 20,000 to perform black magic? We can’t change the world overnight, but one small step in the right direction does help.
Switching gears to education, there’s Key Education Foundation working on early childhood education. I derived immense joy in picking up giveaways at their stall — hand puppets and finger puppets. So the next day, I took some quirky quilled earrings for the kind women manning this stall. Also brought home their brochures and shared it with my househelp for her kids to benefit from the free online programme.
Knowing about the work that Sathi does with rescuing and resettling children found on railway platforms reminded me of all the Bollywood movies with twisted plots. But this is for real. They are empowering street children and vulnerable children of migrant families through residential care homes and comprehensive education.
Next up, the All India Blind Football Association had something quirky — miniature footballs with anklet bells inside to make sound so that you identify the ball’s location. Snehadeep Trust for the disabled was manning this booth.
Indian Cancer Society had cool stuff to engage visitors. When they offered me postcards to colour, I handed over the ones I had already doodled and was carrying with me on Day 2 of the event. “You are an artist”, I heard from the lady at the booth. I sheepishly said, “Just picked this up during the pandemic. I hope the folks like it”.
Moving on, I had a long discussion with someone working on menstrual health. She tried to convert women into being cnvironment friendly by using menstrual cups. Great for the environment but neither me nor the gynaecologist friend who accompanied me on Day 2 could change our mind.
We also learned about waste segregation and I am that person who mentions how my hometown, Indore is doing a fabulous job at this, So is my current neighbourhood, HSR. We segregate wet and dry waste. This allows for more recycling and less stuff going to the landfills. Time for disclosure — I always keep cloth bags in my two-wheeler and those Swiggy jute bags in my handbag because impulse purchases do not come with a warning sign!
Testimonials and pictures
Interestingly, I spotted The Third Share coffee on a booth and remarked how we picked it up from our visit to the Buffalo Back Collective and loved brewing it at home. I was asked for a video testimonial and made to feel fairly important as I did this. The good folks here are working with small farmers in regions like the Nilgiris and helping them increase their incomes. Did I tell you at least three of the booths asked me to pose for a picture that’d make it to their visitors page? Draping a handloom saree on a Saturday morning and showing up 10 minutes before the start of the event (to calm myself and gain confidence in moving around) did turn out to be magical! I teach pre-date rituals to single people in my cohort-based course on dating. I might as well calm myself and show up as my best self in the world!
The art of noticing
Among the interesting observations I made, every other booth was selling face masks! Some embroidered, some with hand block prints, and others with pictures of dogs in case of animal rescue NGOs. A lot of organic stuff, handloom sarees, candles, decoupage bottles and crafts made their way to the booths. I am inspired by the usage of hand block prints in newspapers and cardboard boxes. What a beautiful way to upcycle and reuse it as gift wraps and storage boxes! We spinned the wheel at one booth to determine which quiz we’d take. We tilted our heads towards left for False and right for True as part of an Instagram quiz. We rolled the dice and picked up neon Green and neon Pink chits accordingly to engage in a conversation on sensitive topics like child sexual abuse. We collected freebies and brochures and visiting cards and above all, tonnes of memories — of goodness, of kind people and commendable work.
WOW Vegan Stuff
The rooftop was buzzing with a vegan market curated by Namu. Yes, the same lady complimented me on my hairstyle on both days and we semi-hugged each other on Day 2! Did I tell you that I feel blessed to have had amazing Khow Suey? Vegan Sushi and Dimsum were good too. Good job, Sriracha! I loved the unique flavours of jams from Jarganic — apple cinnamon and pineapple chilli are my favourite. I am yet to open other jars in my kitchen but I’m pretty sure they’d be great. While I haven’t picked up the beautiful teddy bear candle from The Wick and Co., I absolutely loved it, among other designs.
Kind people are my kindaa people
In a series of random acts of kindness experienced first hand, we got lip balms from Arbanity, some Zinc and Magnesium supplements (I gave it to my friend and she gave it to her house help in the hope that she’ll have it), an empty glass jar from Jarganic (my friend loves collecting glass jars and she jumped with joy on getting this one), a gorgeous paper flower from plant-based clothing brand Hibiscus (They were wrapping up the booth when I told them how much I loved it and they gave it to me, just like that! Can’t wait to adorn my newly painted rented home with this one), and lots of food because they were wrapping up the event!
Life came full circle as I was an early visitor on Day 1 and experienced the hustle-bustle of setting up the booths, figuring out where the washrooms are, who’s in charge of what, can there be more posters or space for standees. I was among the last ones to leave on Day 2 and watched the relief of wrapping up knowing that it was a successful event based on the metrics they were tracking — number of visitors/sales etc. I only spent a few hours between both these days at the venue, yet the infectious energy rubbed on.
Shout out to Ravichandar V and his team at Bangalore International Centre and allies who hosted such a wonderful event that brought amazing people and their work together. Loved the community and the sense of belonging we experienced.