We recently completed our first Integrity Idol Fellowship in Nepal. Read below about Radip Tandukar’s experience.
The Integrity Fellowship 2017 took me to a district of surprises, Diktel of Khotang. I never imagined that in this age a district just 325 kms away from Kathmandu; neighboring prosperous districts would still be devoid of a concrete road access. I never thought that after crossing the mighty Sunkoshi over a suspension bridge, I would have to board another vehicle that would then finally take me to my destination. But the surprises gained from my disappointment subsided after the first sip of Tulsi tea with the Integrity Idol; Gyanmani Nepal, and I embraced myself for the positivity that was on its way.
I had a vague picture of Mr Gyanmani, a person whom I was to shadow, in the back of my mind; a lean man with shallow glasses wearing a hat and climbing hills. But after meeting him, I was convinced that I was in for a greater discovery of a person who was soon going to be my hero.
I believe a man’s identity is a collage of all those infinite personalities with various characters and situations. I was lucky enough to witness different sides of Gyanmani through this fellowship, which could not be possible in any other way. Throughout the fellowship, I ate what he ate, went where he went and I tried to understand how he thought. It all made so much sense in the end when you can contemplate the exact situation through two different scopes.
Every night, before going to bed we used to share our food for thought while sipping Tulsi tea covered by the epiphany of the night. He would recite Sanskrit verses of wisdom and I tried to fill those up in me. He taught a lot of things that I believed were the key essence of life. He always used to say that a tree yields fruits not to devour them itself but for the sake of filling others belly. So is the purpose of a human’s life. “A man is born with a purpose and the purpose is to serve others.”
I was also deeply inspired by his quality of living and consciousness of food intake. He has planted a number of cruciferous plants in his kitchen garden and a hedge of Tulsi plants surrounds his residence. Also, he is very open to more biological and organic measures of dealing with pests and diseases. He uses complete organic bio-fertilizer prepared by decomposing urine. His culture has inspired me to change my eating habit and be a vegetarian as well. I have seen that if we avoid meat intake it increases the stability of mind and reduces abrupt anger and overreaction in hugely. He told me that living is quite cheap if you produce what you consume. His monthly expenditure never exceeds 4,000 rupees. A man with simple living and high thinking lifestyle.
His past accomplishments in the field of education development are also worth mentioning. After being assigned as a Chief Education Officer of Paanchthar he was able to escalate the annual SLC pass rate of community schools from 14% to an astonishing more than 60% in a single year. His adamant behavior has also resulted in the resignation of a number of teachers who had a record of being drunk during class hours. He showed me that one man can build a mission and not stumble or flicker from the goal. Through his fearless mission and not so amicable relationship with the villains of development, he has been able to provide the children with quality education. His such strong determination taught me that ‘Somebody might not be able to do everything but everybody can do something.’ He inspired me to take actions against anything that I know and believe is not right. He taught me perseverance and patience. He taught me that patience is not how long you wait but how you react when the result finally arrives.
Seeing him in the ‘End of Service Meet’ at Evoke 3 days after the end of fellowship was a beautiful moment. There I recollected all our memories from Khotang. The time when his address to me transitioned from ‘jee’ to ‘babu’; how we watched English movies to improve his English; how he spoke highly of his dream to revolutionize the education system in Nepal and how he still remained insatiable to do more.
I was presenting about my experiences to a mass audience when a familiar sound reached my ear lobes. I found out that the familiar sound was his phone’s ringtone. I was so much accustomed to his ringtone and hearing it after 3 days was like living those moments of discovery again.