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hey nippon how are you i'm doing good how are you i'm doing great so before we start i do want to say that your name nippon which means an expert so you've been an expert in a number of fields you are the founder of this uh organization called service space uh tell me a little bit about what they do What is Service Spaces well service spaces uh started in 1999 in the silicon valley by we started by building websites for non-profits and now we do a whole bunch of other projects but at its core it's a volunteer-run ecosystem and here the volunteers are not just serving to help others and create an external impact that's there but you're also serving to for inner transformation to change yourself along the way um and so it's a it's a it's a big incubator of all kinds of projects that try to circulate a little bit more love in the world yeah so talking about love every time i get your email i see you have a very unique signature and you have a mission statement around it what is it about like what is something about smiles what is it exactly i i don't know usually i'm smiling so i write based on what i'm what i'm feeling in that moment but um yeah i'll often sign my emails saying with smiles yeah and every time i read your email i would smile because it's such a nice way to end it and i also read somewhere that you were studying at berkeley you were doing computer science and philosophy and you were on the path to you know the high-tech path and then you had a change of heart uh what happened there and how has that journey been like were there any pitfalls you know we all want to do good but what was your experience in that Giving to be happy yeah i mean i think this was you have to kind of understand the context that of that time silicon valley dot com greed was all over the place and here i was uh an indian guy coming out of berkeley into that field and there were lots of very lucrative opportunities but my heart said that that wasn't my calling that you can uh accumulate a lot um and still not be happy you know and so for me i at that time i was thinking more about happiness and i realized that it takes giving to be happy and giving you know to give you don't first need to acquire a whole lot a lot of people think first you get and then you give and i i realize that that's actually kind of a there's a there's a fault in that logic which because according to that logic then we are born bankrupt yeah and then you accumulate and then you give you know and i just think that you can accumulate a few things like maybe financial resources you accumulate over time maybe your reputation you accumulate over time maybe fame you accumulate over time but things like love we're born with you know and so if you can think in that broad way like how can i give uh with so many other forms of wealth and i think that became the thrust of the rest of my my work i realized i i in giving i was a lot happier than i was in getting or taking um or accumulating like the security you feel from accumulation pales in comparison to the connection you feel when you are giving um and so taking this i mean this is a very difficult path right to even explain to people your you know your parents your children your right everybody right everybody first thing you when you go to a party you're like you know hey what do you do and i'm like yeah i volunteer and they're like no what do you really do i'm like no i really volunteer they're just like okay well next person you know um we'll talk to you later we're or in the indian community you know people will be like oh shouldn't you be taking care of your parents instead of like you know living off of them i was like no i'm not living off of them it's like are you taking care of them what kind of a son are you i was like well why don't you go ask my parents you know but uh you have you have that whole cultural thing of like oh and so many sacrifices were made for me to have the opportunities and i had so much potential all that kind of stuff that people tell you and you're like and and in those eyes you're seen as wasting all of that potential because you're going out and practicing giving that's something you do when you're 65 you know after you retire like that's not something you do out after college um and so yeah it was a you know it's it's a kind of uphill battle um and uh you you work through it and you have to listen to that inner voice you know you have to listen to that uh calling inside you and even my parents wanted to make sure that it wasn't just i was i wasn't just doing a rash thing that i actually genuinely felt it so they did accept your choice and they were i'm sure at the end of the day they were happy but during that time it must be hard for them as well right yeah they wanted me to be sustainable they said look we can take care of ourselves we want you to follow your dreams but like we want you to make sure we want to also make sure that you know how to take care of yourself you know um and so and and this is not a it's like none of their friends kids are doing this kind of thing so it's there's no precedent for it you know so in your mind it's a new story and uh you know they they certainly especially my mom was certainly worried and was like no this is not a why don't you do it on the side or why don't you go out first make all the money and then retire and then go do all this you know early retirement you know i technically relate to that because i mean obviously i'm not at your stage but i feel the same you know i always wanted to do something in this field and that was the thing everybody kept saying yeah you should just do it on the side it's good yeah so you know last year has been quite dramatic for all of us right pandemic and everything and we talked a little bit before about the the kitchens that you were holding which is not going on right now the karma kitchens the volunteers what else have you learned in pandemic i mean what is like a couple of just maybe the one biggest lesson that you think that you can talk about Living bridges well i think one biggest thing is i think that in the pandemic everyone started to think that life every there's so much so many emergencies and your react react react react you know to the here and now and i think when you just take that very short-term view you forget about the long-term view which is not just emergency but emergence which is a longer-term view and longer term could go all the way you know they have these living bridges in meghalay i don't know if you know about these bridges but they try to put these concrete posts on both sides and build a bridge and all those would like fall down and what they realized is what what survives are these living bridges and living bridges are essentially trees on both sides whose roots start to interconnect so every generation takes these roots and they know what to do to connect these roots to the next bit and then the next generation comes in and takes it to the next and over many many generations you have this thick root system on which people can walk and traverse and these roots they're known as living bridges they take many generations but they are so robust they are so resilient they are so sturdy and they serve everybody so i think there's place for short term and emergencies and then there's space for emergence and how do we balance that personally but also systemically right how do we do that and i think most of our systems are rooted in the short term yeah are rooted in the here and now are rooted in consumerism and i don't think that that is nearly as deep as i'm thinking something beyond and i think one other thing i would add is that i think sorry i think thinking about like is this a war story or is this a love story i think was a great question yeah right like is it are we are we being attacked and oh my god if we don't fight back we're gonna we're gonna die or is this an invitation to deepen our interconnection and to deepen our love or is it both and which one is it more how are they interconnected like all these kinds of questions are a little bit more nuanced yeah than just saying oh my god let's go you know let's go attack this thing and eliminate it yeah i really think what you're saying is really a reset button for all of us right in our lives is really like we started thinking in a different aspect because we were forced to think about it almost and that's what exactly what you're saying right you look at it as a bridge or is it a tree or is it like you know all these things we were forced to do because it happened yeah yeah and i mean the media kept saying all these negative stories of how there's so much fear yeah alongside the fear there's always also a great rise in compassion alongside the suffering there were so many people who were trying to alleviate suffering like everyday heroes doing like the smallest things with with incredible you know even in the first days like people even if they were quarantined they're playing going to the balcony and playing music and and figuring out a chorus right like the police are stopping and playing guitars you know it's like kids are having a lemonade stand and saying free jokes you know it was just a parallel universe that we started living in almost yeah well i think people respond with love like people want to respond with love when you see suffering that's half of the story sure there's a lot of suffering yeah but another half of the story is that when faced with that we have this tendency we we have this kind of innate

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