When we stayed at the ashram in Sevagram, we were joined by two guys our age named Suraj and Akash. They were hired to help us out for our stay there and over time, they became very close to us. Each student was given some money to put towards projects and organizations of our choice in India and the whole group chipped in to help fully fund Akash and Suraj’s college education. In addition, Mahendra and Prashant graciously agreed to sign on as the two men’s mentors.
Having the two guys in my life was like adding two brothers. Our group was female heavy numbers-wise (Wesley and I were the only male students), so adding another two guys was a relief. Right from the beginning, I hit it off with Akash and Suraj.
A conversation with Akash on day one:
A: You do pushups?
D: Oh yes.
A: I do pushups! 100.
D: Oh yeah? Show me.
A: Tomorrow morning. 6am.
D: Ok. See you then.
A: No, no. 5:30am.
D: Ok. 5:30 it is.
A: Ohhhhhh no! 5am.
Part of Akash and Suraj’s job was to help get us hot water for our “showers”. By the end of our stay there, Suraj and I had developed a ritualistic dance around the water barrel. I would sneak up the barrel and pretend to take off the lid. Suraj would comically run over, exclaiming, “No!” I would clumsily pour a small bucket of hot water into the bigger one and then he would grab it from my hand to show how it was done. Then, I would make an effort to carry the bucket a few feet before he would take it from me, deftly moving it to my bathroom. I’d wait for him outside the bathroom door, comically bow and say “dhanyavad” (thank you) in a playful but sincere manner.
Akash and Suraj became my workout buddies. Akash would call me out to do some pushups with him in the morning. Suraj would join me on runs and do pull-ups. Late into the night, the two of them would sit on my porch and make jokes, playfully wrestle and join in on card games.
Adding someone into your inner circle - and in Wardha, Akash and Suraj were definitely there - can be a powerful experience. My friendship with Akash and Suraj moved on quickly to brotherhood. It made me think of when my sister married Garrett, an amazing guy who I am proud to call my brother-in-law.
I’m incredibly close to Josh and Elizabeth. My siblings are my backbone and will be with me for all the big movements of my life. Never did I think that this select inner circle could change, but adding Garrett has been a powerful experience. When two can be a force in your world, three can make you do the impossible.