Along with 490 young Indian changemakers and 9 other international participants, I visited the pioneers of social entrepreneurship in India on a 15-day “Awakening Journey” (or Jagriti Yatra, in Hindi), last winter. It was an experience untouched by time and I realised 7 things that I try to keep with me. The 490 Indian youth came from all over the country — from the remote areas of Tamil Nadu to the capital Delhi or the tribal communities of Jharkhand — to embark on a collective journey that will inspire and empower them to build the future of India, through social entrepreneurship. We’ll stay 15 days altogether in a non-AC sleeper train where we would sleep, attend conferences, drink chai and eat dal fry, play Uno and queue for the bucket showers every day. And we will travel 8,000 km to visit 15 role models in 12 different cities: Yaaron Chalo !

Here is an extract of the notes I took during the trip (the complete text can be found here: Indians have a very different relation to dancing than everywhere I’ve been (closest I’ve seen are Benin and Mexico): it’s in their blood. Dancing really is a serious business here ! They just start to dance as soon as they hear music, regardless of where they are — in the premises of Aravind Eye Care Hospital, on train platforms, inside the train, on cricket fields, in the streets — and regardless of the time — 7 am, 4 pm, 11 pm, same same na.Also, I could stare at Indians dancing for a whole day: yes, I’m hypnotised by Bollywood choreographies. Actually, they won’t let you just stare at them: they’ll add you to their circle, give you the “instructions” (like: “bhaiya, just pretend you remove a light bulb with the right hand and you open a drawer with the left hand”). It sounds cute, I know, but it’s really, REALLY, intense and I wonder how much calories you burn after removing thousands of virtual light bulbs. All of this is so different in the 2 countries I’m from (France & Vietnam), where people usually don’t start to dance randomly in public (and in private). Why not? I just love that Indians dance anywhere, anytime, no matter what: it’s totally normal. Anywhere is a dancefloor !

Published by