Saturday, July 23, 2011

Niki Shah's Letter of gratitude to his grandfather

Dear Dada

I am very grateful to you for what you have taught me-the basics of life. You taught me to be respectful towards women, children and elders; to care for everyone; pursue and share knowledge without arrogance; and remain satisfied and content with what has been provided to me in life.  And those teachings have been the foundation of my life upon which I continue to prosper spiritually, socially, and economically.

For example, while teaching me math and English when I was in 5th standard, you asked me, "Niki, if you were make a difference in the lives of ordinary people, what would you do?"  I replied, "Dada, I would make sure that the population was healthy and better educated so that a more peaceful and prosperous world could exist-where people have access to the economic opportunities they desire and dream of.

Reflecting back on that conversation today, I had an opportunity to impact 10 children, 8 girls and 2 boys at school # 3 in Passaic, NJ by sharing with them the benefits of healthy eating and living  and then doing hatha yoga. I immediately thought about the example you have set for me.  You respected and cared for each individual that crossed your life.  You practiced a  holistic life by rising early, engaging in yoga and physical activity,  eating healthy and exact portions at the proper time, working hard, always reading and writing, and then, going to bed early to rise early.  You  understood your role as a grandfather and the aspects of child development. 

You explained my shortcomings and mistakes, lifted me up when I was down,  coached and mentored me every day of my life and made sure I was physically  active and eating healthy.  And today because of those teachings, mentoring  and coaching, I am successful in learning and educating, and successful in  most tasks I undertake.

I felt grateful for your teachings and your example as I was interacting with children at School # 3 in Passaic, NJ.  As an AmeriCorps VISTA working  for the Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC), I had the opportunity to lead a yoga and nutrition class with these 10 children.   All of us introduced ourselves.  We talked about the fruits and vegetables we ate, our lifestyle and diet, how much playing time we had in the streets, to the food (both good and bad) that was being provided in the school.  Collectively, we spend one hour together fixing ourselves in to the various yoga asanas from the Surya Namaskar to the Bhastrika Pranayama.  We started the class with laughter and joy and then filled with serenity and focus only to write in
our journals about our experiences, feelings and lifestyles we all had.  I wrote about mine.  I said:

"Today, I am glad that I spent one hour of my day with the children at School # 3.  I appreciate the positive attitude and joy that children exhibited, I enjoyed learning and sharing knowledge, I am grateful to know that children are focused on eating a balanced diet focused on fruits and vegetables.  I feel relaxed and happy to see the smiles on the faces of these 10 children and burdened by the fact that 1 girl does not eat dinner and that the  peach a girl ate was "rotten."  Next week, I want to do more yoga and see more smiles.  I am committed to noting in my journal the physical activity and reading and writing exercises I conduct with my friends at School # 3 in Passaic, NJ."

From the perspective of HASC, it is important to take the teachings of faith and philosophy to bridge gaps between communities and then address those gaps-whether it is through yoga and nutrition on the health front, or encouraging a child to read books and playing with him or her in a park, or meeting the needs of the senior citizens, or empowering a recent immigrant to conduct their lives in the United States and become prosperous-or just putting up a smile to encourage and motivate others.

With this day behind me, I look forward to continuing this journey to continue making a difference in the lives of every individual I cross-whether it is through physical activity and nutrition, or bringing a smile on someone's face and making individuals feel good about their life. But in making that impact, I am grateful, again, for what you have taught me and the legacy you have left behind.

Your Loving Grandson,


1 comment:

  1. Very Nice and awesome one, Niki...This makes lot of difference. Thanks for sharing.