We had Birmingham chapter's kickoff Asha event today (actually yesterday, as it is past 12:00 am now). A pav bhaji and masala chai/coffee selling table at an I-day function. What in the name of Merlin's beard is masala coffee, you may ask. Coffee+tea masala, what else? Well let me tell you it was an instant hit and a great substitute till chai made it to the selling table. Talk about innovation!
Initially though it was looking like there were more volunteers than people actually buying beverages. We would see one known face in the crowd and call out for him/her in unison. Then that fellow had to consume chai/coffee on behalf of his entire family and friends, paying one dollar for every cup and a little more, all for a good cause.
But soon this was about to change. People started flocking towards the pav bhaji stand, children and adults alike. The aroma of the food had begun to spread, so had the knowledge of a Birmingham chapter of Asha. With an ever enthusiastic team and an unstoppable assembly line, plate after another plate started being sold. The entire time people were in that room, I had never seen that table devoid of customers. And there were some who showed genuine interest in Asha and the activities of our chapter. So far so good.
The endeavors were received very well by the people. Everyone seemed to express a certain positive energy which was endearing. Each one who wanted to contribute in anyway came forward. The room seemed to overflow with hope, asha, especially for some of those children back home. But it is not this one event, the challenge of keeping the sustained willingness of people to help intact, lies ahead. As lie many other challenges.
That being said let me come back to the topic of pav bhaji. Even after a profitable sale and very nice comments about the effort, we had about one third of the food stuff left. What do we do with it? Definitely wastage wasn't even an option. So we divided it amongst the volunteers and were just beginning to wrap it up, when by some 'divine' intervention the temple committee agreed to purchase all of it.
What followed has to be seen to be believed. Within minutes, there were a flurry of activities - out came the to-go boxes, 'Bam' went a scoop of bhaji, pavs were buttered, toasted and got popped into the boxes in counts of 4, chopped cilantro and onions made their way into tiny corners, boxes got numbered and DONE. Talk about efficiency...there can't be a better example.
The day couldn't have been spent better. It was a great learning experience for each one of us I am sure. We plan to put this learning to use towards our growth and progress, in our future endeavors. We made some new friends, we met some old ones. The seed has been sowed. It needs the nurture now, which we are all willing to provide with as much time and passion as possible, as we ourselves learn and grow under the banner of Asha.
What a great evening it has been! Personally I feel, the bond with the magic city is a little bit stronger after tonight. I feel like a baby who has taken her first few steps. The entire path and its challenges lie ahead.
A round of applause to Asha - Birmingham and all its volunteers on our first event.