Another day, another oppurtunity

View from Sondei Fort Trek


“There’s a saying: ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. ‘ That is why it’s called the present.”–Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda (a quote from a kids’ movie my brother and I loved).

The old mate Master Oogway knew was onto something.

That pretty much sums up this past week. A mirage of experiences, moments of overwhelm, sickness, disheartedness and self-doubt, paired with moments of admiration, gratitude and laughter. I reflect on the understanding that we cannot change yesterday and don’t know what’ll happen tomorrow; all we have is now, so give it your best shot! I’ve made multiple mistakes this week, yet every day is another chance to improve. 

This week we heard about the devastating floods that hit Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). Our hearts went out to the people at home having to deal with all the damage and disruption to their lives. We were fortunate that none of our direct whānau had serious damage to their whare. Arohanui Tāmaki Makaurau. It was heartwarming to hear about people coming together to help the community during this time.

Weekly rundown:

Monday: I cannot believe how much can happen in one week. 

Over the past few days, our UOA whānau have been falling sick, either with fevers/colds or Dehli belly… 

I was fortunate enough to miss the Dehli belly (Future Jana: only for now, ahah); however, I did catch a fever and had to stay home. Being home and staying in the room was great for resting my body and recovering. My amazing supervisor Seema was very understanding that I couldn’t come to work. Honestly, I was feeling really overwhelmed and anxious throughout the day, thinking about everything I needed to do and whether I could truly contribute to Aastha Parivaar. However, I realised being sick usually heightens a lot of emotions (thanks, mum, aha), so just let your body heal and keep going. 

Whether you are sick or just experiencing a low mood, I find the quote “This too shall pass.” a really comforting message to reflect on in good and bad times. Appreciate that you need both to experience one; feel it out, and you’ll feel good again. Also, remember the small (but important) things that make you feel good, going for a walk, having chai, dancing like no one’s watching, talking to someone, asking for help, working out, reading a book, journaling…whatever it is!

Desk set up in room.


Working from home again, still feeling unwell but luckily feeling a bit better. Feeling immense gratitude for being surrounded by such supportive people. It’s crazy how most of us were strangers a few weeks ago, and now we feel like a whānau. Tash, my incredible roommate, always makes my day with her daily rundown when she gets home. She is working for ‘Doctors for You,’ who do such essential work by providing free healthcare for the underprivileged globally. Lots of her time is spent at clinics in the slums and hearing about the range of health issues they face, from children’s legs being bowed to everyone receiving supplement packages (e.g., protein powder) because they are not getting essential nutrients from their diet. Incredibly lucky not to have faced these challenges as a child.

After Tash got home, we got some treats from a local shop to give to our work collages to celebrate the upcoming Republic Day.


Feeling energised getting back to work at unit 2. Becoming more comfortable navigating the area, still being attentive due to it being in a red light zone; not many foreigners visit this area. Had an excellent zoom call with my supervisor clarifying the direction I am heading with my work for them and how I can make the most of my time. The ladies at Unit 2 are always so incredibly welcoming to me. You definitely understand the importance of connection when speaking the same language. Some of the ladies speak some English, and I am slowly picking up Hindi, but you definitely appreciate how nice it is to connect with everyone around you, especially when you cannot


Today is Republic day, which celebrates the establishment of the Indian Constitution. This day off work was a great chance to regroup and connect with the UOA whānau again. We were privileged enough to book tickets for Agra for the next weekend to see the Taj Mahal! An experience we came to find that many locals never get the chance to for their whole lives. Another moment of reflection on our many privileged experiences on this trip. I booked the tickets for a group of us. I am not usually the first to step up and organise these things. So, stepping up and doing so felt great…(Jana from the future: good on you for booking the flights…just remember to triple-check all the details…like the return date…because…booking a weekend trip with the return flight scheduled for a month away is a slight issue…a hefty $130pp rebook issue…lesson learned). 

After organising the trip, we had a beautiful day of walking around Colaba and seeing the Gateway of India at night. Also, evening reflections at the famous Leopold Cafe (one site of the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, a very horrific time for the local people.)

Gateway of India. Visited at night on Republic Day but didn’t take a photo…tried to be present and take in the moment ahah.


Fridays are remote working days for me, which has turned out to be most of this week due to sickness and public holidays. Finished creating some banners for Aastha Parivaar’s upcoming conference. Realising that even if I am working from home, it is essential to go out at some point and change the environment. Wondering around to get out of an anxious headspace, got a coffee and a henna tattoo by an exceptionally talented artist at Colaba causeway. 

No words!


Me and Tash had a well needed sleep in. Then, an informative zoom meeting with our coordinators, Naveen and Kate from GCC Mumbai. It was grounding to discuss why we are here and how to make the most of our time. Had a meet and greet with students from NMINS University! It was so lovely to hear later that when we arrived, they felt like we were very open and welcoming to them. Activities included an icebreaker, us exchanging songs from our cultures and then BOLLYWOOD DANCING!! Cannot express how much fun we all had learning and dancing with the students. During the reflection session with Naveen and the group, I was really grateful for everyone being so open and vulnerable about our experience so far. It gives everyone permission to be honest and feel safe sharing their thoughts.

At NMIMS University Meet and Greet.
Happy Birthday Emma! NMIMs staff surprising Emma with a cake!
Some of the UOA whānau outside the NMIMs University.
Kulfi! Cannot recommend this mouth-watering desert enough. We enjoyed dinner and desert at Judu Beach.


What a day. 4 am start with Tash, Joelle and Chris. We took a 3hr Ola to the base of the Sondei fort trek. Advice for long Ola rides, shared by a doctor Tash works with: many drivers work insanely long hours, and there is a high prevalence of accidents, especially with tourists travelling long distances. Because of this, along the way, we kept checking in with our driver to make sure he wasn’t getting too tired. It must be so hard on their health, driving such long hours to provide for their family and trying to navigate the unpredictable traffic here. 

Grateful to arrive safely. Being one hour early, we had heaps of time to stretch as we waited for the sun to rise and for our guide to meet us. We joined the other families doing the trek. We were generously given a lift to the starting point from a couple, both surgeons, one eye doctor and one orthopaedic doctor. 

Group of men we met on the trek who were super keen to hear about Aotearoa and compare the artwork on our currencies.
Section of the trek. In monsoon season all the grass is extremely green.
Worship station at the top of the Trek.

Cannot tell you how great it felt to be reconnected with nature. A simple 45-minute hike, exploring the unique landscape, unlike the terrain at home. Awaiting at the top were multiple stray dogs, monkeys and a beautiful prayer station. A hasty journey down the trek, car ride, auto-rickshaw, train, and walk back to YWCA. Quickly freshening up, then off to Lollapalooza, the first time it’s been hosted in Mumbai. Had such a great time with the group, another special occasion to interact with local people, hear music people our age listen to and have a night full of dance.

Entrance to Lollapalooza!

Without discrediting how lucky we were to be at the festival, there was a tang of bittersweetness that lingered thinking about what it meant to be there. The contrast between the superficial constructed setting we were in and the harsh reality for most locals just on the other side of the barriers. We cherished the experience while reflecting that the value of our ticket could essentially change the life of people not far from where we were dancing. 

An eventful week full of appreciation for the people around me and being in good health. Creating the intention to be more conscious of the things I choose to spend my time, energy and money on. Are all my actions aligning with my values? No, not yet. I will continue to be on the journey of putting these into alignment. Another day, another opportunity to act differently now, knowing more than I did the day before.

Thank you for making it this far on blog 2! I’d love to hear your thoughts about anything and your reflections on similar experiences.

Thought provoking sign explaining an art piece in a excessively massive mall in Mumbai.
Red carrots!
A few of the many stalls at Judu Beach!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *