Upleta – Ahmedabad – Vadodara
The youngsters and adults, who went to explore Uperkot in Junagadh, came back before 8:00 a.m. We all had breakfast at the hotel and then finished packing so we could check out. Today was the last day of the trip. People were happy that the trip so far had been excellent. The original plan was to go back to Vadodara from Junagadh via Ahmedabad. But, Yagnesh Maharaj (Swami Atmadipananda) of Porbandar requested and insisted that we go back via Upleta. He said, “It is on your way and a few householders at Upleta are doing an excellent service which you would like to see.” We all agreed.
We got onto the bus and headed to Upleta. We passed villages and farms, and then, all of a sudden, we saw an eye-catching building. A sign read: “Sri Ramakrishna Vivekananda Seva Samiti” and “Maa Sarada Bhavan.”
People were waiting for us, and as we got down from the bus they greeted all of us with great affection. First they asked us to go to the prayer hall, the “Shri Ramakrishna Prarthana Mandir.” The new building, the green environment, the organizers’ love, and the beautifully decorated altar created a very serene atmosphere. Yagnesh Maharaj had told them that we sing dhoons and bhajans. So they asked us to sing. The harmonium was ready, and we all sat down to offer our singing. We sang Thakur, Maa, and Swamiji’s dhoons and bhajans.
Then, the organizers showed us their classrooms. Most of the Center’s programs are run by women and are for women. After nearby village women finish their morning choirs at home, vans bring them to this Center where they learn various skills such as sewing, computer software, arts and crafts, and many other things. They sell their products and earn some money. Some of the artwork was amazing and could easily compete with exhibition items in art galleries. Women and children also get medical help at the Center. We heard that the organizers are trying to make this Center a part of the Sarada Math of Belur.
We were lead to another building where we had tea and were shown the handicrafts for sale. Vidyapith’s mothers, daughters, and a few fathers were going crazy to buy things. The products were good and they wanted to help the women who come to this Center.
A small donation was given on behalf of all of us. They wanted to have a picture taken for this. We could not say, ‘no.’After everyone’s shopping desire was fulfilled, we got onto the bus. The organizers stood lovingly to say “bye” to us and told us to come again. We were glad that we had decided to make this stop at Upleta.
We had a long journey back to Ahmedabad and Vadodara. On the bus, while thinking about the entire trip, everyone was filled with satisfaction. Some were emotional. By the grace of God everything had worked out well and we had covered so many things. We wanted to reach Vadodara before dark, so we decided not to stop for lunch or dinner anywhere. We had so many snacks and goodies on the bus that we could enjoy on our way. So every now and then we’d pass out different goodies, and thus not only did we have some fun but we also saved time. We made small breaks on the way and soon arrived at Ahmedabad. Several families were getting off here. Again, the pain of separation came. But, we knew that we were going to meet soon in Vadodara. The bus finally came to the Royal Orchid Central Hotel in Vadodara. We were exhausted but extremely happy about our successful trip. We were thinking of all the people who had helped to make this trip successful and prayed to God for His blessings. It was a big relief for all who were responsible for the trip.
Those who were staying at the hotel went to a nearby restaurant to celebrate this trip and ate a delicious dinner that included rotala, kadhi, laddu, and many other things. That night the organizers had a very good sleep.
“This life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive.” – Swami Vivekananda