A beautiful.sunny day in London. Arrive at Tottenham Court Road, then crossover to start at the very beginning of Oxford Street. The "Mecca of Shopping" as I know it, with the Primark flagship store at Oxford Street. And, post COVID, many a spaces on the Iconic Street are seen abegging for rentals (sadly ) , but Primark never fails to disappoint. Four floors or is it more, a shoppers delight for sure. Floors on floors of goods longing to go home with you. This time around, lots of sustainable options too , and I rush out with a pretty orange basket made of cloth. Sadly not much time today, as there are friends waiting to meet !!
A quick rush to the Govinda and Hare Krishna temple ( the Mandir) , and then on to a relaxed dinner with friends.
At the Riding horse Cafe ( What a name and what history, with stables repurposed for food!) ,we have a relaxed meal with friends from IIT Delhi. Just as we get up to leave, in walks who else but Alia Bhatt with Soni Razdan. Whoa! Had heard that she was shooting for her Hollywood debut in London, but never expected to see her here. And a quick introduction to the amblingindian ( the new common woman of India- and the book - amblingindian diaries) , they oblige with very sweet selfies and back I am, now floating in the clouds.
No doubt my good karma of going to the Gurdwara with a Sikh friend ( Ramma- just before this), Mecca and Mandir just after helped. Just so it's no offence to anyone, Oxford street is the ultimate for shoppers , and hence called it the Mecca of shopping. Just so that no religion gets offended ( Nupur Sharma controversy being so new ), making it crystal clear here!
There is enough to do to understand Hinduism deep enough. And while I love being a Hindu, it comes with respect and reverence for all other religions too.
Just as visiting a church and basking in the glory of centuries old faith, or meditating near a Buddhist shrine feels peaceful, it is heartening to hear some of the good tenets of Islam and Sikhism. I don't know much, but their dedication to prayer, charity , along with the Selfless service of Sikhs, are beautiful, to say the least.
And, for people who haven't been to , or seen India, people of all faiths truly live together . Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Amir Khan - the ruling superstar trio + icons = Tricons are adored by many, irrespective of their faiths . Many of my trusted helps came from other faiths, and it just doesn't matter. My own home help, coming from a different faith, has been with us for ages. Having stood with her to help in many a difficult times, she always bestows a good wish for us ,and the wish is mutual. Just reposes the belief , humanity is more than faith.
Interesting coincidence- just last week, i was looking for new music, and came across Ali Sethi, a singer, and his amazing songs plus interviews. A Harvard Graduate, a writer, and a singer, truly phenomenonal to boot. I was floored. He talked about India and its neighbours having the same roots, the music and the art having merged and metamorphosed into various endearing art forms- with so much in common, and the futility of fighting. It is seriously wasteful for India's neighbours ( anyone can guess which is the hostile one) to fight -right, and make animosity the basis for all relations ? When we all came from the same soil, and will go back there, why not we all live peacefully while we are here, on this mortal earth?
That's my prayer , lets all live in peace and with tolerance, across the world. It is diversity that makes life worthwhile. What if all of us had the same faiths, same dressing style, same architecture? Can you imagine how boring life would be? In diversity we thrive, and to my knowledge, India is a beautiful symbol of diversity in real life. My prayer to all countries in the world is to keep harmony in diversity , and appreciate what it brings . Akin to having the cake and eating it too!.
"Icing on the cake- meeting sweetest Alia Bhatt and Soni Razdan yesterday in London."
With love to all faiths,
Aina Rao, the amblingindian. ( www.amblingindian.com)- quirky blog on India by a new common woman of India,
Ambling Indian Diaries, a top 10 Amazon humor book