While posted at the Indian Navy Headquarters in Delhi, I was residing at Princess Park Officer’s Mess on Copernicus Marg. Every weekend during my morning and evening jogs, I used to visit the nearby auditoriums and fine art centers like Kamani, LTG, Sangeet Natak Akademi, NSD, Sri Ram Centre, Triveni etc and note down the details of the forthcomi​ng cultural events displayed on the respective notice boards.

It was at one of those jaunts that I chanced upon a poster about Smt. Shubha Mugdal’s SPIC MACAY concert at the Lady Irwin College (LIC). On the specified day I landed up at the college for the concert and was impressed by the warm welcome accorded to me by students who were handling the information desk. These students made me feel as if they were handling their own family function. I was pleasantly surprised.

I have been to many functions managed by college students but this kind of personal involvement was never experienced before. I was handed a yellow colored invite-cum-schedule for the forthcoming events and was invited to attend a SPIC MACAY meeting too, held every Saturday at their college’s front lawns. After the concert, the feeling of purposefulness, enthusiasm and complete involvement of the young students lingered on with me.

As Lady Irwin College was at a walking distance from my house and Saturday was an off day, I started attending the meetings, perhaps with a hidden agenda to know about the free cultural programmes to be held every week. All the invites for various programmes being held in and around Delhi, received by SPIC MACAY, were circulated amongst all the persons present in the meeting so that proper dissemination of information takes place. I am now amused to recollect that more often than not, I would happily “maro” an odd invitation card or two. Whenever Dr Kiran Seth requested me to take on any responsibility or coord-ination, the stock reply would invariably be “Sir, Abhi mujhe thoda samajhne dijiye”. Not knowing that SPIC MACAY samajhne ki nahi, anubhav karne ke liye hai! (SPICMACAY is to be experienced not studied) Anyway, this process continued for couple of months and arguably I was the loser.

On a particular Saturday, after the meeting ended, I was going to meet a friend of mine at the India Habitat Centre. SPIC MACAY was organizing a concert by Late Pt Ram Ashreya Jha at the same venue and Dr Seth requested me to drop three students in my car there. I agreed. Since there was still some time before my friend turned up, I went along with these students to the venue.

I was surprised to see that there were just two or three volunteers present and still lots of things to be done. I could not leave them and joined them in setting the place right. As luck would have it, my friend got stuck in another meeting and I decided not only to attend the concert but support these students. The vibrancy of these young students was infectious and I was inspired to translate my “samajhna” state of mind to action. I realized that working with them made me recollect my own student days and I felt transformed back into a student all over again. This was my first hands-on-experience of a SPIC MCACY event.

Smitten by the enthusiasm and warmth exhibited by my newly found young friends I started attending SPIC MACAY meetings regularly. I was very impressed by the passion and vibrancy of students from different schools & colleges. Attending SPIC MACAY programmes & meetings was like travelling back in time – it seemed that my school & college times had come back. Uske baad pata nahi kab main SPIC MACAY ka ho gaya aur SPIC MACAY mera ho gaya... The amalgamation was incredible as I introspect today.

In 2008, I had the unique privilege of having the darshan of H.H. Dalai Lama at Mcleodganj (Dhramshala) along with the scholarship students. While waiting for his darshan in his abode, I read one of his quotes “Life is a journey & I would prefer to travel with like minded people”. Thus in SPIC MACAY, I found a platform to meet like- minded people and make the journey of my life pleasant and enjoyable. Not only have I enjoyed the journey but have grown as a human being too. Perhaps this is a more intrinsic growth than a metabolical one.

I have learnt numerous valuable lessons of life during a decade of my association with SPICMACAY, but due to paucity of space, I shall restrict myself to sharing only three of them. In my earlier life (before joining SPICMACAY), I always avoided taking any additional responsibility. I would convince myself by thinking that “It was not my job or I was not meant for this or Why should I do it?”

Lesson No. 1: Unless one takes up challenges and display total commitment, there is no real growth. Growth sans responsibilities is hypocrisy. Earlier, I would form opinions rather soon. Now I know every human has their own strengths and weaknesses and that people behave differently at different situations. 

Lesson 2 is that a person always has a choice to relate to one’s shortcomings or strengths. Today I continuously endeavor to relate to people from their strengths and the net result is the list of my friends or well wishers is growing by the day. This is actually a qualitative growth. I have always wanted to be convinced or understand situations or people. What I 

​ ​have distinguished today is that many beau-tiful things in life are subtle and abstract and require introspection and opening of the inner eye to comprehend.

Lesson 3 that I learnt is that life is not to be understood or be convinced about. It is to be appreciated and enjoyed. In the process my belief in the mystic power of the universe has become very strong. I am experiencing more peace, ease and grace in life.

If a person like me can benefit, anyone else on this world can benefit too. I strongly feel that any one who has been with the movement for a reasonable period of time has definitely grown as a human. During a decade of my association, I have witnessed number of students, non students growing exponentially in every sphere of life. Therefore, I would invite everyone to join the cause and see the magic happening to you... 

- Ricky Srivastava