A little over two years ago, thirteen men met to walk the banks of the Narmada as part of a leadership walk. Eight days of spiritual and humbling walk to find out their purpose. No wallet, no mobile phones, just being with ourselves and the brotherhood to figure ourselves out.
The bond of divesity
While all of these fellows were exceptional people, these two were the ones my heart connected with the most. One was a 31-year old entrepreneur with an unheard-of kind of name, of Persian descent, divorcee, and the other was a 25-year old Tamil Catholic, unmarried adulting man, naive, confused but supremely kind soul. They opened their heart to me, a 40-year old Malayalee, an atheist, a separated human on my own journey.
We walked, talked, cried, climbed, hurt, laughed, shared, stripped, ate, and slept together those eight days. This journey forged a brotherhood tighter than we ever imagined was possible. Read more about the walk here
We parted after the walk. I continued my learning journey until the day the pandemic kicked in. As a solo traveler, I was always on the go and had no place to nest. I was not comfortable going back to my hometown and finding shelter given my state of mind then. The 31-year old opened up his home for me. I could live with him as long as I wanted and grew wings to be on my own again. The 25-year old would do frequent sanity checks on me as we all were in the same town.
Something positive during Pandemic
The bond we had forged grew stronger. Our time together was in the space of naked truth and unburdening, with unfiltered conversations and unconditional love and support for each other.
When the first wave subsided, the three of us decided to backpack and revisit a few stretches from our walk. Our picks were Gokarna and Murudeshwar, after a brief stop at Goa. Initially, a few other friends were traveling with us. The space the three of us had made a few people jealous. There were fights about the closeness we shared and how it impacted our intimacy with others. But, we three reveled in the company we shared.
A piece of me
On that trip, we spent Christmas on the beach. As a token of love and appreciation for the wonderful brothers they had been to me, I gifted them my most prized possessions: My Two Watches. At one time, I took pride in wearing them. Now I wanted these two gentlemen to keep them. For me, it meant that they had a piece of me with them.
The present day saga
Time passed. The youngest, 25 years old, decided to get married. We were all looking forward to this reunion and celebrating in full glory.
Just then, I contracted the virus. I sat sulking in isolation, hating that I had to miss this occasion. Something I had been looking forward to with much anticipation.
I tried to keep myself busy on the day to not feel anything. There was an eerie silence on the Whatsapp group too. Then I got a message from them. Something which overwhelmed me made me gooey and felt loved and included beyond words.
It was a beautiful photo of their wrists adorned with the two watches I had gifted them.
The brotherhood found a way to make my presence felt even when I was miles away. A part of me was there with them at the wedding.
What a way to toast – Inclusion, Diversity, and Friendship!
Hard hitting questions
This feeling will stay with me all through my life. It made me think about how we go the extra mile for those we love and care about in our personal life.
What about diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Why do we find it so challenging? These questions so categorically came up.
- Do we consider a colleague in the minority, who nevertheless contributes to the company aim, when they aren’t there in the room and we’re planning an outing, an offsite, task distribution, or any other choice that affects their work lives?
- Are we addressing the elephant in the room?
- Are we aware of any potential prejudices we may possess?
- Are we treating the person with respect, regardless of their identity, which we may or may not share?
- How can we, as HR professionals and business leaders, make intentional space for diversity, attract talent, and ensure that our company’s goals are met?
- What can we do for inclusion and diversity – for persons of all faiths, races, dietary preferences, sexual orientations, disabilities, gender identities, and generations in the same space?
Be Human and Humble
Times are rapidly changing. The race against time and money will soon be won by a few. Leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves with what is left of humanity. Being human and humble is a choice we all should consider making. That’s what will keep our body, mind, and spirit alive. That’s the part that makes us feel like we have a sense of belonging, involvement, and citizenship. And we are cherished, trusted, and respected.