There is more than just the proverbial cultural diversity that two people from different parts of the world stand for when they come together. They stand for shared history, human emotions, laughter and problems; all with an extraordinary universality to them.
The venue of the ongoing Peace Fest shifts to Indian School Of Business, Mohali while the camaraderie continues. The twelfth edition of the Global Youth Peace Festival boasts participation by peace activists from war-torn countries of Syria, Liberia and Aghanistan, as also Mongolia, Thailand, Palestine, Philippines, Uganda, among others.
Shared history: South Africa
A law graduate from South Africa, Nadia Gava has had a long list of reasons for visiting India. The fact, “that we share history and are very similar is just one of them. In South Africa also we have a lot of diversity. People think India is chaotic but I think it is genius. We are very chaotic too and I am used to this chaos,” she shares, hailing from a place a few hours away from Cape Town and all set to practice International Human Rights when she goes back home. It’s a first visit and on the list are Agra, Rishikesh, Varanasi, Shimla. “I am here for a month,” she adds, while helping herself with Indian food during lunch break. “I love palak paneer.”
When we talk of shared history, there is no denying the Gandhi and his days spent in South Africa. She nods, “I think his teachings hold so much of relevance even today. We need to apply them while arriving at practical solutions to today’s issues.”
Knowing Corbusier: Japan
Twenty-one-year-old Shiori Ogaki’s friend came to India to study IT and she has only heard all good things. Having been in Chandigarh for two days now, she can confirm some of the things. “It’s very different from our own culture but I am impressed,” shares the geography student, who has heard of Le Corbusier.
“He has made a museum in Japan as well and I know about him and have wanted to visit Chandigarh ever since.” Has she heard of Gandhi? “Oh yes, I studied about him in high school and about the Dandi March as well.” She adds, “We studied about Indo-Pak conflict as well.”
For a beautiful world: Mongolia
As a top 10 finalist of Miss World 2016, Mongolia’s Bayartsetseg Altangerel is friends with three winners of beauty pageants from India. Only she doesn’t remember their names. “The names are a little difficult to memorise. They are all in Mumbai,” she shares, while telling us about the pageants they participated in.
“They would be Miss World 2016, Miss Earth 2015 and Miss International 2014.” Well, acting is the next step for anyone from the world of beauty pageant. “I am an actress too in Mongolia and America. I just finished a film with Steven Seagal.”
Well, then where does activism fit amidst all this? “It’s about balancing and also it’s always been my dream to visit India. When we picture India, we think of culture, history and heritage.”
It’s one day to go for Gandhi Jayanti in India. Perhaps, she’d heard of him. “Who hasn’t?”
Conflict and gandhi
If you are looking over the shoulder fearing a gunshot, anything is enough to get you out of the country. A festival that celebrates peace all the more. “But I came here especially to see Taj Mahal,” shares Samar Awadallah, from Palestine. For the engineer pursuing an MBA back home, definition of normal is quite stunted and unfortunate. “There are days you go to work, in the evenings go out like ordinary people and there are days you just cannot move out of home. You learn to live with it.” She adds, “I have to check three to four times just to get back home from where I study. In between there are two check points which take ages.”
It’s hard to imagine is she has any complaints over here and she says, “For the first two days I did not get coffee. And the one I got today was too sweet and the food is too spicy.” We’re sure she’ll take it all in her stride.
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