Even as my 100th Conversation comes up on Saturday, April 13th, I am marveling at the magic and beauty of Life.
These 100 Conversations are special for a few reasons:
all of them have been non-commercial
they represent the most consistent effort in Chennai to curate and host live, reflective, Conversations on Life and Happiness
they have featured a whopping 164 guests in 4+ years and
they have been curated and hosted through the darkest time of our Life – for Vaani and me!
To be sure, our 11-year-old bankruptcy endures; a phase that has often been marked by long spells of worklessness and pennilessness. Yet, each of these 100 Conversations has been therapeutic; each has helped us to learn, unlearn and share Life lessons.
When I hosted my first Conversation on January 22, 2015 with film critic Baradwaj Rangan (while starting the #BlissCatchers Series), Vaani and I never thought this effort would go on for 4+ years or that we would end up bringing so much consistency and focus to it. We loved the opportunity to do something in line with our Purpose of “Inspiring ‘Happyness'”! And we said, “Let’s go be useful”! Success was anyway eluding us – we did not have work or money. But we were learning a lot through this challenging phase in our Life. And all we wanted to do was to share our learnings. But what happens when you do something selflessly, when you do what you love doing, is always beautiful. That’s perhaps why we have come this far, ready with our 100th Conversation on April 13th!
Until our Conversation Series’ came up, there wasn’t any similar effort in Chennai. There were panel discussions and Talks, but there were no explorations of lived experiences and of Happiness through live, reflective, Conversations. Our initiative over these years has, we believe, helped whoever has been touched, realize that Life must be faced, no matter what, and that you can – and must – be happy despite the circumstances.
Statistically, our 100 Conversations have featured 164 guests in all, between Jan 2015 and April 2019, across 47 #BlissCatcher sessions, 4 #happynessconversations sessions, 22 #UncommonLeader sessions, 20 #ArtistsSoul sessions and 7 #HeartofMatter-HC sessions. All of these 100 Conversations have been curated by Vaani, alongside me, making the journey truly memorable for us.
None of what we have done may have been possible without the support of our venue partners and, of course, thanks to each of our 164 guests who agreed to be in conversation with us and share their lived experiences, to make our world a better, happier place!
So, as we host this 100th Conversation, Vaani and I are soaked in gratitude – we will remain eternally grateful to Life for this transformational experience; without the bankruptcy, we would not have understood that Happiness is really being non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering, we would not have set out to share this learning with our immediate circle of influence: through my Blog, my book ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’ and through our Conversation Series’.
In early 2008, AVIS Viswanathan and Vaani Anand – soul-mates, friends, husband-wife, business partners – were staring at a bankruptcy of their Firm. A series of business decisions had brought them to the brink of penury. AVIS wrote a Book “Fall Like A Rose Petal – A father’s lessons on how to be happy and content while living without money” which was published by Westland in August 2014. The Book shares, through letters AVIS wrote to their two children, Aashirwad and Aanchal, the spiritual lessons that the family learnt through their Life-changing experience – of hopelessness, of fear, of court cases, of police complaints, of insolvency, of pennilessness. Also of faith, patience, love, companionship, abundance and soul.
‘Rise In Love’ is a film made by a young film-making student Shalu C. She was inspired by AVIS’ Book and was keen to explore how “true love thrives in the face of adversity”. In a world ridden with dysfunctional relationships, Shalu discovers that a rare magic and chemistry between Vaani and AVIS has helped them both deal with their complex, numbing Life situation strongly, even as it has kept this small family of four together, despite a storm ravaging their material lives.
The film is based on a series of conversations Shalu had with Vaani and AVIS and with people who know them very well. It’s a film that teaches you to appreciate the beauty of companionship, that inspires you to be happy despite the circumstances, that tells why relating between people is more important than the relationship itself, that motivates you to face Life squarely and that shows you how you too can ‘rise in love’!
PS: This film is not a complete re-adaptation of AVIS’ Book nor does it attempt to portray all the challenges that Vaani and AVIS are faced with.