Tag Archives: #oneworld

Diversity And Inclusion – Airbnb

I had written a post about Diversity and Inclusion a while ago. And I am still fascinated by the power of diversity.

I like to travel as some of you know – and I realized that for the last few trips we have always stayed at an Airbnb. I remember being skeptical about the idea initially. What! Do you live in someone’s house? They live there too! How does that work?

But, after the very first one, I was hooked to the idea. I was a total convert. Why do I like Airbnb? And how is it related to Diversity and inclusion. For those of you not familiar with Airbnb – here is the link to the website. But even important is their mission

“Our diverse global community makes Airbnb possible. Building an inclusive platform for all hosts and guests is our greatest goal, and we’re always working to improve it.”

Brian Chesky – co-founder and CEO of Airbnb states the following succinctly.

If you think about it, the very foundation of Airbnb is based on inclusion. You open your houses first to a stranger and then open your hearts to them as well. It is difficult to not like a human after you have ‘really’ seen them. For example, in my most recent trip to Toronto with my friend we were staying with an Asian family – complete with a kid, grandparent, and the parents. It was a very lovely Airbnb – the living room and kitchen was a common area, our bedrooms and bathroom were separated.

And if you are from an Asian culture, you instinctively understand the situation. The grandparent(s) usually travels along with the family to take care of the kid. They did not speak English, and we did not speak Chinese. The first day we were there, we were very polite and just nodded and smiled at each other if we crossed paths. At night the little kid starts crying. My friend and I give each other a look – ‘Kids’ and we went to sleep as the rooms were very well segregated. Next day we saw what they had for breakfast, they saw that we skipped breakfast. We could see the kid viewing us to see what we did, how we did etc. That evening she came up to us with her mother shyly and gave us two candies. Next day we returned the favor. And by that time we had become quite familiar with each other. And when we left, we took selfies. We exchanged our names.

Now, this is what happens in a joint family in India. You live with other people – you ADJUST, and you ACCEPT. This is what makes us a grow as a person. Living in Airbnb reminds me of that. And at the same time in a world where technology is pulling people away, we need more of these instances to remind us that we are all humans who share space on this lovely planet called earth.

I enjoy these tiny, intimate connection with people who I have never met – because it reminds me of our oneness.

Beyond Borders

As some of you know, I teach Bollywood Dance once a week. My students are from varied backgrounds, some Indian – some American, Spanish, Korean…The songs are in Hindi – the national language of India. So, the students regardless of whether they know the language or not dance to the music.

I was telling my parents about this really cool Tamil (Another Indian Language) song – Koova Koova which one of my students requested that we dance to. My dad’s comment was, “Well, you don’t know Tamil that well.” And that got me thinking about how students in my class do not understand the language but still love and enjoy the dance. The tagline for my dance company email is “Dance is the language of the soul.”

Some things in life cross boundaries set by humans and dancing, music, art – anything of a creative nature falls in that category.

Even if you don’t know how to say Hello – a small smile with a nod does it usually.

Human Emotions are universal. Anger is anger – there is no millionaire anger and poor man’s anger. Human emotions are the same – whether you are a Hindu, or a Catholic or Jewish – we all feel the same emotions. The anguish of heartbreak, sadness at leaving a loved one, loss of a close one – we all go through the same feelings. Laughter is universal – even if you don’t understand the language, there is something about humor that catches on. Love of a mom in India and love of a mom in Europe are not different – they are the same. These emotions bring us together, and they bring us down to earth where we are all born equal regardless of human-made boundaries like race, caste, religion, sex, wealth, etc.

Suffering is also universal. Let’s say you are a millionaire who is upset that one of his jets has a dent and let’say you are a struggling low-income father trying to feed his family. Both of them are suffering – the pain and anguish that each one of them feels are real. We have decided that food is a basic need, and hence the suffering is more significant for the father – but the tug in your heart when your desire is not met is the same for all humans.

All of the humanity shares these common threads. Instead of focusing on what is common we tend to focus on our differences. I wonder why that is? Is it because of human conditioning? Is it because of Media? Is it because – ‘this is the way things are?’ I don’t know but it makes me wonder does the answer to the question matter as much as awareness of the fact that we have a lot more common going on for us than differences.

Once we become aware – our actions will follow. We will look at the person cutting ahead of us in the queue and think back to the time we did that too. We will look at the person talking loudly on the phone and realize that I felt anger and irritated also.

And if you are one of the very few perfect role models in our world, then something that Buddha said might come in handy. “We have no right to judge somebody else because we have spent so many countless births in the human condition that we have played all roles from beggar to King, thief to a constable, male to female.”