Join Us for A Business Retreat to India

Photographs by  Karthika Gupta

Photographs by Karthika Gupta

Laughter is one of life’s best medicines. A person who has the ability to smile and laugh from within, no matter what is happening on the outside, has cracked the code to self-awareness, zen and a maturity far beyond his/her age.

Nowhere else have I truly experienced this concept than among the women and girls of Khandar, a tiny village in the heart of rural Rajasthan, India. Life here for the girls isn’t about selfies, snapchat or pouring hours over the latest fashion trends. Instead it is about working in the fields at the crack of dawn, cooking meals for the family, tending to the cattle, going to school (if they are allowed), rinse and repeat.

When I visited Khandar a few years ago, I was somewhat of a novelty. A ‘videshi’ (foreigner even though I am Indian) called for the entire women folk to come and see who and what I was all about. I did not completely understand what they were saying but bits and pieces of the conversation led me to believe that some of them had gotten up really early to finish their chores and some even wore their school uniforms because it was the only presentable outfit they had.

As I sat with them answering all their questions about my life, one question stopped me dead in my tracks and almost got me to tears. One young girl asked me how on earth did I get permission from my husband to leave the house and travel to Khandar. I had no words for her - my freedom and my life were never topics of discussion, ever! And yet here were girls and women who had spent their whole lives asking for permission for even the simplest of things like visiting each other. That day, I promised myself that at some point in my life, I would do something to help. Something that would bring about a change in mindset not just for the girls but also the menfolk because rural India is still a patriarchy society.

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Fast forward two years later and this time when I visited I saw so many of the same women and girls in Khandar. But now I was hearing stories like Sita who was well respected among the village men because she could read about the latest weather reports on the computer and hence help the farmers during harvest season. Or Lalita who was studying to pass the Indian Police Service (IPS) exam so she could become a police officer with blessings from her father and brother.

The winds of change are slowly sweeping through places like Khandar and other rural villages thanks to all the amazing efforts of women like Dr. Meeta Singh. An ex-Indian army medical officer, Dr. Singh has spent the past twenty years pursuing social entrepreneurship. Under her guidance and her NGO - Dignity Of The Girl Child, she has brought about change in the mindset of many communities like Khandar where the girl child is no longer ostracized for her sex. Instead, parents are encouraged to give equal opportunities to both boys and girls.

And my promise to the girls of Khandar, that too has manifested in a way that I couldn’t be happier. I am so proud to announce that I will be leading a business retreat for creative entrepreneurs to Jaipur, India in November 2018 where we will not only spend time exploring Jaipur but also visit Khandar to meet with the women and girls of the village. I truly believe that curiosity leads to education, education leads to understanding, understanding leads to compassion and compassion, in turn, leads to humanity. And humanity is what ultimately makes the world a much better place for all. These girls don’t need pity, they need acknowledgment, encouragement and positive influences to show them that anything is possible.

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For decades, India has been a destination that many dream of visiting someday to experience a land of mystic, grandiose, color, culture and deep-rooted history. Festivals are celebrated with much pomp and splendor and street food is the best kind of food there. People are always ready with a smile and welcome you into their hearts and homes with warm cups of chai (tea). Conversations are deep-rooted and meaningful beyond the ‘Hello, how are you?’ Smiles are genuine and the interactions with nature, people and animals always leave you feeling innately satisfied and energized. This is the India I want you to see and experience for yourself!

This creative business retreat will be the perfect opportunity for you to get inspired in your own business by engaging with international and local business experts, to invest in true friendships to build a supportive community around you as well as experience the magic that is India with the help of a local. And of course, I am sure we can all learn a thing or two about life from these women and girls.

Click here to learn more about the Business Retreat to India!

Gallery of Photographs