Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J is for JOYN #AtoZChallenge

June 2016. Dehradun.
The rain had washed the valley green and stopped.

We weren't sure if we'd need to carry the folding umbrellas but I stuffed one in my bag anyway.

I hailed an auto-rickshaw to drive away from the hustle and bustle of the city and head towards Rajpur. The only instruction I gave the rickshaw walla was to follow Shweta, the one who was riding her two wheeler just ahead of the auto and showing me the way. My son sat behind her as her passenger. We manoeuvred Rajpur's green and tree lined roads in tandem to arrive at our destination: JOYN.

Shweta deserves a post dedicated only to her, but she'll probably kill me if I do it. She's not very good at accepting compliments and a post about her would soon turn into an ode and that may cause some trouble.

She's the kind of person I want to be. She's sort of my niece (I won't go into the long explanation of how we are related). She's a kindred spirit and about a decade and a half younger than me.

JOYN is where she works and I was keen to see her world with my eyes.
This is JOYN
Before we go on, please click here and check this short video to discover what they do. 
Shweta had filled  me in on the people she works with. I knew that everyone I'd see that day had fought a battle to rid themselves of a label (addict, untouchable, recovering alcoholic, ostracized from family for falling in love, etc.) I was nervous. I wasn't bringing anything to them. I didn't want to look at them as 'objects' of awe. I didn't want to interfere with their day. But I did want to be there. 
Thankfully Shweta's love and enthusiasm for JOYN, a place that fits her generous spirit, peeled away my inhibitions and what started as an unsure hello, ended up as gupshup (normal chat about work and life). My camera didn't seem too keen. It was a day to absorb with my heart, not my eyes.
But a handful of  shots managed to get clicked anyway:)
Here's a glimpse into the different processes this cloth that is"spun by hand and woven by hand" goes through before it becomes a bag or a wallet.  
 Block Printing
 Adding the extra detail
Drying the dye
 Cutting the cloth

 Sometimes experimenting to see what'll work
All set to sell. The seconds shop where I got my bag from:
It was almost time to say bye. 
"You have to meet my favourite little guy Masi." said Shweta.
So off we went to seek him out at the creche.
He became my sixteen year old son's favourite little guy, too:)
Here's a quick shot of the elusive Shweta.
When her cousins were looking for well paid jobs to match their degrees, she was buying colours and art books for the children who sell balloons by the roadside in Doon.
Every time I visit Dehradun, I get to glimpse Shweta's world. One year it was at a charity working with children of street beggars. The children would come in, get washed, change into clean clothes, and learn to read and write and make cards or bangles to sell to keep the charity going.
After a hot meal, they'd change back into their rags and go home.
"Most of their parents are addicts, they'll sell their nice clothes." I was told.
The parents had to be paid money (equivalent to what their children would've made on the streets for those many hours of begging) to convince them to send their children.
I told you I could go on and on, but I'll stop.
 Happy with my new purchase: bag and tag, the three of us hailed a rickshaw (together this time) to ride uphill to drink the best coffee in Rajpur.

It's Wednesday today. I'm fixing this post sitting at my kitchen table. I can see that the laundry pile is reaching a dangerously high status and the kitchen floor needs a good mopping, but I'd rather share these words of Gibran than tackle chores right now...(am shrugging you know)
The Prophet
Kahlil Gibran

Then a woman asked, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow

And he answered:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter 
rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that
was burned in the potter's oven?
When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for
that which has been your delight.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and
Be kind to yourself and others:)
Shall Knock on your door tomorrow with K.


  1. What a beautiful post. Gorgeous. Thank you for introducing me to JOYN. My day is better for it.

  2. Very interesting. Do you follow the #AtoZChallenge in Mumbai on a High? I think you would like it.
    Eva - Mail Adventures

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks for visiting Eva. I found Mumbai on a High a couple of days ago. You're right. I like it:)

  3. Interesting information....and hats off to people like Shweta for taking the extra effotrs and walking the extra mile to work for the betterment of the society.

    Am too fortunate to know a kindred soul - Bhavana Mehta - a Ph.D. in Indian Music, who has consciously chosen to work as a music therapist in a school for children with mental and physical disabilities in my hometown of Bhavnagar in Western India. With her qualifications she can easily bag a well-paying job. But she loves what she does and that's what matters.

    Nice to know about JOYN. Keep sharing....keep writing.

    1. Give my love to Bhavana and I shall pass on yours to Shweta:) I like this role of mine. And thank you for reading...makes writing more fun and friendly.

  4. Another beautiful write up but with an extra touch of 'giving-back-to-society ' . Just how many of us do that . I wish people would open their hearts out and not such get stuck in a rut .
    JOYN would definitely be a place I'd love to visit - Shwetha is undoubtedly an angel . Bless her . 💕

    I loved the way you decided to absorb with your heart Arti- you're a kindred soul yourself.
    Loved it all over again 😀

  5. What a lovely post - I'm so happy to have found my way here.

    1. Thank you for visiting Deborah. I'm gonna find you now:)

  6. Their bags are beautiful!
    Thank you for sharing this. :-)


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