The KYS Retreat – A Lot Can Happen With The Right Circle (And Good Coffee!)

KYS retreat
Team KYS - the only picture we took that day - outside the Gurudwara

Nandini, our Chief Doing Officer, shares her perspective on our monthly KYS retreat.

After last month’s retreat, I was looking forward to this month’s (March) adventure. When else will all four of us explore our city together? The day was planned for us (courtesy of our Chief Thinking Officer, Jaideep). The best part? We went off the grid and spent the day tuning into ourselves. No mobile phones glued to our palms. No random promotional emails we didn’t subscribe for. No earphones, just the sounds generated by other people, and in that “noise”, I heard a crow cawing, a cow mooing, a sparrow chirping, and the wind talking to me. For once, the urge to capture the world in my photo album was ignored – a conscious effort. Basically, we got rid of the multitasking mode that we are usually in to focus on a single agenda – The KnowYourStar team retreat.

Unlike the last time, all of the places we visited were new to me. All of them!

Old Is Gold

Vasudev Adigas – where we met for breakfast is Karnataka’s favourite flavour. Their masala dosas and neer dosas settled in our stomachs as soon as they arrived. They were delicious! We had a pleasant surprise when Jaideep picked up one of the Adiga water bottles, and on the other side of the label were instructions on how to convert the plastic bottle into a pen stand. Pretty, functional and reusable! Not crush and throw away, but a very nice way to recycle. How lovely is that? I don’t know who the designer is, but I know he or she is a Volunesian at heart.

While we wrapped up our meals and were relishing our juices, Anj pointed out these quirky posters to me, which crack me up even now.

KYS retreat
Quirky poster spotted at Vasudev Adigas

Finding Nourishment

After nourishing ourselves, we headed out, still clueless about what came next. We voiced our usual speculations and realised that we were walking towards a park! Unfortunately, we then found out that none of the parks would shelter us until 4 pm. Seeking shelter from the heat, we ended up at a beautiful spot called ‘Cafe Terra’. Yay! Another new place for me to experience. We had passed it earlier and I had eyed their lovely window – it featured an interesting design that reminded me of a hobbit hole! It felt like Jaideep had read my mind, and we found ourselves sitting down and ordering cups of green tea, preparing for our #MarchToEmptiness.

Experiencing Oneness

This time, we learnt the art of holding a circle and spent two hours sharing our thoughts and feelings. We realised the trick to holding a successful circle is respecting each other’s time and sentiments. We held space for each other, kept our judgements outside the circle, and emptied ourselves of all the joys and worries we held, both professionally and personally. We realised our work is such that the lines between our personal and professional lives have considerably blurred. What emerged from the circle helped us make our connection as a team (and a family!) stronger.

We sat face-to-face, speaking from the heart, and there was a special kind of beauty in being really heard.  It is probably what we all long for the most. Everyone has so much to say, but often only walls listen (That includes our Facebook walls!) We brainstormed on our past initiatives, what we wanted to do in the future and the things we needed to improve upon, while being completely present. Learned from each other. Grew. Resonated. Connected. Impacted. We took a dive in all spheres, in all dimensions.

Valuing Authenticity

Next stop was lunch at Nagarjuna. Andhra-style! Guessing the songs being played in the background, we relished our pappu and rice, and ate more than our bodies required. It was just so yummy! That banana leaf with sambar, rasam, payasam, curd, chutney, pickle, papad, gun powder, ghee rice and pappu is still floating in front of my eyes now. I am hungry for it all over again! The authenticity of the place has ensured that it is loved by one and all.

Understanding Tolerance And Honour

Overloaded with all the love from Andhra Pradesh, it was time to go to another state, or rather, sect. We found ourselves at the gates of a Gurudwara. The doors were wide open to us, and to everyone else too, of any caste or creed. We covered our heads and bowed down to the Guru Granth Sahib. Then, we silently walked through the premises, reading about Sikhism and the Gurus. What we learned from our silent readings was such a revelation.

We learned that the values of Sikhism were crowdsourced! They have chosen the best parts of different religions from around the world, and stuck to the basics. They believe in one true God – the creation – who has no shape or size, but is within us and in every other creation around us. They believe in meditation, service and compassion! What all of us caught on to was their mention of the community coming together in ‘Sangat’ (to take part in the community Kirtan) and ‘Pangat’ (to take part in the community offerings of the Langar). Participating in holy prayer and selfless service are two powerful ways for a community to come together, regardless of social status.

When we were almost finished with our learning tour of the Gurudwara, an all-woman Kirtan began in Punjabi. Though we understood nothing because of the language, we just sat there with our eyes closed. When we left, after happily consuming the prasad, all of us were so rejuvenated; we just knew that the Gurbani had communicated to us in the universal language of love.

Everything Happens For A Reason

It was 3.30pm. The scorching sun didn’t show any signs of mercy, and our next stop – the Ulsoor Lake – would open only at 4pm. Bangalore has been oven-like for the last month and we had half an hour to kill. Amidst this was a coffee lover craving a cup of filter coffee. Trying to find Jaideep’s revered coffeewalla, we stumbled upon a lovely nursery/cafe – ‘Cafe Cerrise’. Anjali found her one true love there – the Vietnamese Coffee! Over cups of lemon tea (and the famous coffee!), our conversation spanned current educational standards in schools to our solutions for the problems in the system. We spent a few happy hours chatting in the cafe, admiring the beautiful plants that surrounded us, and the gorgeous ceramic serveware.

Finally, it was time to go home. Though most of our day was the result of happy coincidences, we wouldn’t have changed a thing for the world. It was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect, review and revitalise – something we sorely needed before the busy month ahead. April is sure to bring new triumphs and challenges our way, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us!

Liked reading this? Then you might also like to read Team KYS Retreat – A Chance To Reconnect And Reflect.

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