IYC – Bulletin 11

August 9, 2013

Lakshmi Vilas Palace – Sankalp (Lunch) – Practice – Surya (Dinner)

          The day of August 9th was filled with pleasant activities.  Before I describe this day’s activities, we have to remember a few people because of whom the Saurashtra trip and the stay in Vadodara went smoothly.

Nimishkaka or Nimishbhai, researched and bargained with all the hotels in the cities we visited. He was in constant communication with hotel owners and managers, and he even visited some of the hotels beforehand to see how they were. After we selected hotels he made all the reservations on our behalf.  Nimishbhai took care of all our transportation logistics and anything we needed.  He would always tell us to let him know if there was any work.  One day, at the last minute we found out that Hotel Royal Orchid Central could not provide us a space for practice. Immediately, Nimishbhai arranged a big hall at a nearby club for our practice.  Then, he was worried about our drinking water.  He, himself, brought a huge package of large water bottles and carried them all the way upstairs.  He was thinking of our needs ahead of time and got them done on time with a smile.  He and his family hosted our lunch at Sankalp.

It is time to remember, Mukundbhai, Maltiben, Virajben and their family members, who hosted us for three days when we were finalizing most of our planning before the trip.  Their support was amazing.  They were ready to help us–whether it was researching restaurants in all the cities we visited or putting together all the individual snack bags, or any other work.  They arranged our trip to the Lakshmi Vilas Palace and also hosted our dinner at Surya.  When our city tour guide canceled at the last minute, Rasheshbhai, Nimishbhai’s brother, gladly agreed to accompany us, guiding the bus driver and pointing out historical city sights.

Nilesh and Apexa hosted a fun dinner at a pizza restaurant in Vadodara, and the Parikh family hosted a dinner in Porbandar. Jaymeenbhai, Nixitaben, Nayanaben, and Truptiben took care of the snacks for our trip.  Our four doctors were constantly helpful, taking care of patients and making sure we were taking good precautions.  All others helped in various ways and were ready to help whenever need arose.  Having spiritual background, there was no ego creating any problem.  Everyone followed the guidelines.  One outsider said that having so many people together for few days and not having a single dispute, that itself is a big achievement.  It was a group of happy people.  They were happy within, so external adjustments did not bother them.

The bus came to the Royal Orchid Central hotel to take us all for an excursion of Vadodara and Lakshmi Vilas Palace. When we got down at the palace, Mukundbhai was waiting to greet us and to make sure we had a good time.  He had paid for our tickets.  It is a huge palace that is worth seeing.  We can see how Sayajirao Gaekwad combined eastern and western art and architecture in the palace.  A guide showed us all possible rooms that we can see.  We also saw Ravi Varma’s paintings. From the literature it seems that Swami Vivekananda had visited the palace and had seen Ravi Varma’s paintings.  He also had praised Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwas.  Swami Vivekananda had told Prince Martand Varma at Trivandrum that “of all the ruling princes he had met, he had been most impressed with the capacity, patriotism, energy and foresight of H.H. the Gaekwad of Baroda.”  Swamiji was also perhaps impressed with the Maharani of Gaekwad because he wrote on February 17, 1901 to Miss Macleod from Belur Math “I hope you will go to Baroda and see Maharani” Rasheshbhai guided the bus driver, so we could see few major sites of the old city of Vadodara.

Waiting for the bus in the lobby of Royal Orchid Hotel
Waiting for the bus in the lobby of Royal Orchid Hotel
Going to the Palace
Going to the Palace
In the compound of Lakshmi Vilas Palace
In the compound of Lakshmi Vilas Palace
Rasheshbhai is guiding us
Rasheshbhai is guiding us
Surprise!  Mukundbhai was waiting for us who arranged this trip
Surprise! Mukundbhai was waiting for us who arranged this trip
Entering into a huge gate
Entering into a huge gate
A beautiful painting combining eastern and western art
A beautiful painting combining eastern and western art
Closer look
Closer look
The Parikh Family
The Parikh Family
Look at the palace
Look at the palace
The palace has more than 100 rooms
The palace has more than 100 rooms
The Vidyapith family in front of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace
The Vidyapith family in front of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace
It took 12 years to build the palace(1878-1890);  Swami Vivekananda arrived in Baroda in 1892
It took 12 years to build the palace(1878-1890); Swami Vivekananda arrived in Baroda in 1892
The first stone was laid on Jaunary 12, 1880 (Swami Vivekananda’s birthdate)
The first stone was laid on Jaunary 12, 1880 (Swami Vivekananda’s birthdate)
The daughters of Vivekananda Vidyapith
The daughters of Vivekananda Vidyapith
The sons of Vivekananda Vidyapith
The sons of Vivekananda Vidyapith
The Guide who showed us the palace – Camera was not allowed inside
The Guide who showed us the palace – Camera was not allowed inside
This was the elephant room
This was the elephant room

The next stop was the Sankalp restaurant for lunch.  Nimishbhai and family hosted this lunch.  A section was reserved for all of us.  Some people ordered 4-feet long dosa for a table and were amazed to see its length. Sankalp restaurants is a chain.  The Sanklap restaurant of Vijayawada had produced 48-feet long dosa and was in the Guinness world record book.  People ate varieties of things. Almost all the Vidyapith people who came to attend the convention were here. After lunch many ate “paan” and had good deserts.  A group photo was taken at the restaurant.

Entering Sankalp, Alkapuri, Vadodara
Entering Sankalp, Alkapuri, Vadodara
Waiting for food
Waiting for food
Nimishbhai, the host
Nimishbhai, the host
Later on we gave him a handmade card (made by Sneha)
Later on we gave him a handmade card (made by Sneha)
We cannot thank Nimishbhai enough…(all signed it)
We cannot thank Nimishbhai enough…(all signed it)
Thanking Rasheshbhai (some light moments)
Thanking Rasheshbhai (some light moments)
Cousins are together
Cousins are together
Delicious food
Delicious food
Look at the length of the dosa
Look at the length of the dosa
Kids had a great time
Kids had a great time
Group photo in Sankalp… a joyful memory
Group photo in Sankalp… a joyful memory

Now, it was the time for practice.  As mentioned before, Nimishbhai found a hall nearby for us.  The bus took us there.  We all gathered in an empty hall and sat on the floor.  It was an air-conditioned room.  We practiced the Shanti Mantras, recitations, Bhajan, dhoon and our “Arise! Awake!…” song.  For more than two hours we practiced.  During the practice there was a very heavy rain storm.  It was about 6:45 p.m. and we had to go to Surya Hotel for dinner.  When we left, rain had almost stopped.

Reciting Shanti Mantras
Reciting Shanti Mantras
Practicing bhajan and dhoon
Practicing bhajan and dhoon

Within half an hour we arrived at the Surya Hotel.  As soon as we entered into a decorative and well-lit reception room, we found a sign that said, “Welcome to delegates of Vidyapith Family, New Jersey.  @5th Avenue Hall (5th floor)” We went to the 5th floor and there was a similar sign at the door.  It was a special dinner.  The dinner was hosted by Mukundbhai and Maltiben & Family.  They welcomed us inside a big banquet room.  Decorative table-cloths, chairs covered with white covers, special lights, and people created a very good mood for dinner.  Some soft drinks were served.  People got some time to talk to each other.  Soon, the room was full of joyful noise.  Nisha introduced the host family members.  People then enjoyed appetizers, the main course menu items, and deserts.  There was a family oriented environment in the hall.  After desert, everyone received a gift of the book, “In Indian Culture, why do we…”  All were very happy by the loving hospitality of the host.   While going home, there was no bus and because of rain it was difficult to get many rickshaws.  So, Nimishbhi and Mukundbhai’s son Kunalbhai gave rides to all of us from the Surya hotel to the Royal Orchid Central hotel.  For this, they had to make several trips between the hotels.

Bus is ready to go to Hotel Surya
Bus is ready to go to Hotel Surya
Welcome sign
Welcome sign
Sign on the 5th floor
Sign on the 5th floor
Host family was already there – Hello, How are you?
Host family was already there – Hello, How are you?
Sharing the joy
Sharing the joy
Introduction of the Host family
Introduction of the Host family
Serving soft drinks
Serving soft drinks
Tanisha & Trisha
Tanisha & Trisha
The appetizers were delicious
The appetizers were delicious
Time to chat
Time to chat
We are having good time too!
We are having good time too!
Let us start eating
Let us start eating
Varieties of things
Varieties of things
Nisha, come on, eat something
Nisha, come on, eat something
We will eat last
We will eat last
So many things to share
So many things to share
It was so funny!
It was so funny!
Host family members
Host family members
Let us eat
Let us eat
What should I take?
What should I take?
Cute Tanisha makes Trupti Aunty happy!
Cute Tanisha makes Trupti Aunty happy!
The grand dinner
Maltiben makes sure everything is okay
Uncle, are you okay? Can I get you something?
Uncle, are you okay? Can I get you something?
All are enjoying dinner
All are enjoying dinner
Posing for the picture
Posing for the picture
Having good time
Having good time
We are ready for deserts
We are ready for deserts
It’s fun to bother Smit
It’s fun to bother Smit
Ansh had a funny joke
Ansh had a funny joke
We are ready for deserts
We are ready for deserts
Am I allowed to have desert?
Am I allowed to have desert?
I am going to reach your hand
I am going to reach your hand
Gifts are ready after dinner
Gifts are ready after dinner
Trisha is going to give gifts to all
Trisha is going to give gifts to all
Thank you Trisha
Thank you Trisha
Everyone loves Tanisha
Everyone loves Tanisha
Some serious discussions
Some serious discussions
Uncle with Mukundbhai and Maltiben (the host)
Uncle with Mukundbhai and Maltiben (the host)
Let us see how the picture came out
Let us see how the picture came out
(From left to right)  Rasheshbhai, Mukundbhai, Uncle, Nimishbhai and his wife Chandaniben
(From left to right) Rasheshbhai, Mukundbhai, Uncle, Nimishbhai and his wife Chandaniben

It was late at night, but a few adults who were in charge of the accounting, sat together and finalized the accounts.  Then, all slept thinking about the two-day International Youth Convention that was starting the next day.  We had planned to reach at the auditorium by 8:15 a.m.

“Even the least work done for others awakens the power within, gradually instills into the heart the strength of a lion.”    – Swami Vivekananda

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