“If there ever is a good time – it is now!”

This is the only Life you have! So, live it fully, doing whatever you love doing!

Yesterday, we met a young (in their late 20s) and very inspiring couple – Resham Gellatly and Zach Marks. They both are from the United States of America and are currently traveling in India – researching on the chaiwallahs of India for a forthcoming book they are writing. To do this project, they have kicked stable, well-paying jobs in the US and have simply taking the “plunge” and “dived deep” into India. They have already met with thousands of chaiwallahs, having covered 15 Indian states in the last four months and propose to meet several thousand more, covering the rest of India, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, by April 2014. Zach’s given up his consulting career (for now) with McKinsey & Co, while Resham’s paused her psychiatry research, in order for them to do this very offbeat, very, very demanding project! They are funding their project themselves – so they are walking a tightrope with their budgets all the time. This means they have to depend on people connecting them to people who are willing to host them as they move from place to place, hopping on to buses and trains. The key for them is to meet as many chaiwallahs as possible – and to understand their stories and lives, and through them, discover India!

Why chaiwallahs? “In a country with tremendous diversity, chaiwallahsare a constant presence, from the deserts of Rajasthan to the seaside megacity of Mumbai, everywhere bringing together people from different backgrounds at their stands. The same way that cab drivers tell the story of New York, we think chaiwallahs can tell the story of India. We have met some incredibly compelling characters – from a Delhi chaiwallah who sells books he has written and self-published at his stall, to a Bollywood spot boy who has been serving chai to the stars for 40 years, to a local politician in rural Odisha who uses the tea kettle as her party symbol,” explains Zach.

A chaiwallah, Zach and Resham
Picture Courtesy: Internet/DNA India
And Resham reveals that the decision to “take on this project and actually get down to doing it” was not very difficult: “We live only once. We realized that Zach’s McKinsey job, or for that matter any other corporate opportunity, would always be there. As would my psychiatry research. We reckoned that if we waited for longer to do what we believed in, and were excited about doing, we will have more responsibilities to deal with. Like a family, kids, demanding careers and such. We said if there ever is a good time, it is now – and that was it!”
There is this very positive aura around Resham and Zach. It is the kind of feeling that you get when you meet people who are genuinely happy with their lives. And that energy, while it’s rare, is infectious. Resham (she has an India connection – her mother is from Punjab) is from Hawaii and Zach’s from Philadelphia. But they didn’t meet in the US. They met, in fact, in New Delhi in 2010-11, while on Fullbright-Nehru Fellowships. Even as their love for each other blossomed, their fascination for Indian chaiwallahs grew. Important, they decided to go wherever their inner joy, their bliss, takes them – together! Listening to them, I was reminded about what Joseph Campbell (1904~1987), the American mythologist and author, had profoundly said: “Follow your bliss and doors will open where only walls existed – and you alone will be able to see those doors.” Resham and Zach are truly following their bliss. And, indeed, doors are opening for them! Resham sums it up beautifully: “We have discovered how kind and caring people in India are. They have opened their homes and hearts to us. Many of our hosts are rank strangers and yet without their generous support our project will not be possible!” Ask Zach, what next, when they eventually get back to picking up their American Life and careers in New York, and he replies: “We honestly don’t know. We are waiting to explore whatever awaits us or comes our way!”

The Zach and Resham story is a beautiful inspiration. It is also a gentle reminder to you and me to never postpone living the Life that you really want to live! Even as you finish reading this, your Life clock has ticked away some of your precious seconds. And you have just so much less time left. If you think too much about a bucket list, it just may become too long and the bucket heavy! So, the best way is to live is start doing whatever you love doing right away! As Resham said – “if there ever is a good time, it is now”!

You can look up Resham and Zach on http://www.chaiwallahsofindia.com