It was the husband’s birthday, and he’d just returned that morning from the land down under. Also, NaMo had decided to address the chaiwallahs that same afternoon in the heart of the city. And we were expected to be down south for this Indiblogger meet. The chances were not looking that bright, yet I was determined to go. It was an IndiChange Meet. It was bound to be different than the regular fare. Right enough, I made it there just in time with two other blogger friends.

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The quaint little elevator that required us to stand horizontally, and very close to each other, had us in splits. The reception was grand, and the hosts were warm as ever. As luck would have it, we had more than an hour to spare as we waited for bloggers to walk in. We used this time to mingle around and draw our picture for the word of the year. Mine was ‘Serendipity’.

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Finally at about 3 pm we were ready to start. Being on the threshold of Christmas, Nihal and Anoop indulged in choir practice. Twelve Days of Christmas will never be the same again, we made sure. Post 30 seconds of fame and talking about our preferred word for the year, we got to the serious discussion – #HopeProject Milaap IndiBlogger Meet.

To the uninitiated, Milaap is a crowd funding project, and you can find more details on their website. As the name suggests it is bridging the gap between the have and the have-nots across the  country. For as little as Rs 500/- you can give someone an opportunity to turn their life around. This is NOT charity, but a friendly loan. 100% of your amount is offered to the borrower, and yes, your loan does get repaid over a period of time. You can even keep a track of it on their site with your personal login id. How cool is that!

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Many questions were raised about the working and the authenticity of this project. The Milaap team patiently answered everyone. But what really silenced us all was the AV of a former Devadasi, Mahananda. Today she is an entrepreneur. What I have written in two sentences, she has taken a lifetime to cross. Milaap has given her that second chance. During the question answer session, we also got to hear a live account from a gentleman who had actually done a site visit. Being a tough cookie, he made a wish to visit exactly the same people that he had funded. Milaap did not disappoint and organized for this rendezvous. Today his company is on the regular donor list.

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Milaap also gave us all Rs 500/- vouchers, where we could choose who to lend the funds to. When I logged onto the site, I was greeted by a black and white collage. As I moved the mouse around, the picture that was selected changed to colour. A simple click could be the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow to someone’s life. A mere Rs 500/- that I could randomly spend on coffee for two or a new released book or DVD could change somebody’s life for good. When you hold such power in your hand, you feel so inadequate. Yes, inadequate, because prior to this moment the value of money had never been so magnanimous. And worse, you never had an inkling of it either because your worlds never collided.

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As I left that meet, (a little early since it was hubby’s birthday, remember?), I couldn’t help but feel a bit let down. The meet could have done with more blogger power. I have seen the turnout for BRANDS. Why did Mumbai decide a no-show for HEART? We talk about change, we talk about positivity, about time we get our backsides off that chair! Armchair activism has gone to newer heights because it is so easy to write and publish a blog post. Getting the hands dirty, now that is a tough arena. It is so easy to ask, how transparent is your process? But it is equally difficult to be honest in day to day living. My point being, Milaap is doing way much more than I, as a person, have done. If I can help, I will. If every blogger in the IndiDirectory manages  to raise a minimum of Rs 500/- loan, can you imagine the tidal wave of change that will sweep across the nation? And that my friend, is probably the cost of a T-shirt that you’d take away from an IndiMeet at some point. Just saying.

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I am going to set a personal goal for 2014 for my contribution to Milaap. Even if I don’t succeed, at least I know I tried.  I started with helping Anjuyara Molla and Group with Rs 1000/- to purchase solar lanterns. And it feels real good. They are Rs 10200/- short. They promise to repay the loan within a period of one year. Suddenly, giving up on a book or coffee once in a while doesn’t seem so bad. 🙂

There are no free lunches in life. We, unfortunately, have gotten used to the afternoon siesta. We love to receive. Why do we clench our fists when the time comes to give? I don’t even know how many have blogged about this considering there are no fancy gadgets being dangled as carrots. It really is time to wake up and smell the coffee. And if you can help someone set shop to prepare it, why not? After all, it is all about karma. What you give is what you get!

Let’s make 2014 the YEAR OF HOPE for someone other than our inner circle, shall we?

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