What has been happening in the US right now is terrible. The fire of hatred engulfs city after city, day after day. The looting and arson are unwatchable on one hand. The brutality applied by the Government is terrifying on the other. I am struggling to put my head around the hatred, apathy and egotism exhibited from different quarters there, especially when the entire world is in the middle of a socioeconomic crisis in a scale not witnessed before!
I am simply confused, because what Uma and I have experienced so far is only love, empathy and kindness. People have gone out of the way to extend their hands to us. It felt as if all of them had been feeling protective of us!
When things started going pear-shaped all over the word, the first phone call came from Nicky checking in how we are doing. It was quickly followed by my friend Subbu from Australia, Simon, Kalpesh, John and Venky. Simiyon, one year junior to me at Uni, has been messaging me regularly offering his counsel and ideas.
Then Joyce started giving her chiropractic care for free. With no income in sight for months on, I emailed Nat that I wanted to suspend his lawnmowing service, he simply replied that he would continue to mow for free until we start seeing some income. Celia laughed it off when I asked her how much I needed to pay for the garden maintenance.
In the early days of the lockdown, Uma and I started going for long walks daily. It was strange to walk through empty streets with only teddy bears keeping us company from windows, gates and letterboxes. But one day, we passed over a stranger who had been sweeping fallen autumn leaves from her driveway. We ended up chatting, mindful of our social distancing requirements.
We mentioned to her how overwhelming we had been feeling at that moment, worrying about the future of Take Me 2 The World. She looked at us seriously and said, "For a kiwi like me, it would be great to travel with you and understand New Zealand from your point of view as immigrants". We parted ways after bidding adieu.
Once we reached home, Uma and I talked about what Lyn had just said. I decided to send a newsletter to our network of past guests, friends and well wishers, inviting them to brainstorm ideas with us. The reply emails with responses and inputs simply oozed love and care! We then followed it up with a Zoom meeting. It was fascinating to see how much people wanted us to succeed!
Together, we came up with several ideas:
1. We will immediately capitalize on Uma's culinary & teaching skills, which should help us with short-term cashflow.
2. We will launch a series of International Themed Tours with New Zealand for Kiwis, who cannot travel overseas - Bring the World to New Zealand, so to speak.
3. Our specialty is creating tailor-made itineraries. We will promote it as a service.
Immediately after the zoom meeting, Al and Alison called us and said they have transferred a $1,000 to our account as a Koha. They advised us to use it to bring our ideas into action. We were left speechless with their kindness!
We immediately registered Uma's Indian Homemade Food service with the city council, delivering dinners on Wednesdays on pre-order. As soon as we posted about this service on Uma's Indian Vegetarian Cooking Class Facebook Page, the planned 15 meals sold out! Jayne straightaway gave us $60, asking us to use the excess to spend on our initial outlay! Jeanine was giving constructive feedback each week and even offered to collaborate.
I have no doubt that we would be a success story when we come out of this. But the victory doesn't belong to Uma and me alone, but collectively to every single one of the lovely people of our Whanau! It is no accident that I mentioned at our BNI Chapter meeting this week that I feel Blessed and Positive.