I first dreamt of planet why more than a thousand nights ago! It was almost a magical moment where fact and fiction coalesced under the watchful eyes of a little prince. Like in all dreams everything was in the realm of the possible and I allowed the dream to seed first in my own mind and then in that of others. At that time planet why to me was: a happy place where those with no hope could seek not only refuge but find meaning, where no one’s children would study just like others, where skills would be taught, where days and would filled with laughter and happiness and childhoods would be reconquered with renewed assurance watched by my smiling little prince.

Please bear with me as I travel down memory lane and unravel this puzzle of dream and reality. The need for planet why stemmed from a complex web of emotions and feelings the biggest one being worry. As I watched project why grow and flourish I also started sensing its fragility as its existence was deeply entwined in mine. Many a times I imagined what would happen if I were to exit unexpectedly and what came to mind was indeed frightening. Would Manu have to roam the streets and rummage in dustbins for food? Would Utpal be compelled to leave school as no one would pay his fees? And where would would Champa, Anjali, Radha, Munna and their pals go? In those moments my blood would run cold and I would break in a cold sweat. I could not allow this to happen, pwhy had to live beyond me in some new avatar. The umbilical cord had to be severed. But how: that was the question. How would this dream become reality.

I did not know. I simply held on to my dream with both hands and all my heart. I could see the happy place and knew I had to make it happen. For a long time my dream lived in my mind. I use to conjure it at will and spend hours fine tuning it: I could see it live and thrive. And yet if dreams are to become reality you have to muster the courage to address the uncomfortable questions and the one that plagued me the most was how would my happy place sustain itself if I was not there to hold its hand. That is when my friend the God of lesser beings decided to enter my dream and lend a little help. It came in the form of a person telling me about how another dream had come true thousands of miles away. She told me about Cusco and the Ninos Hotel. Don’t ask me why but I knew that was the way to go. My happy place would not only be a home for my loved ones but also a guest house that would sustain it.

The dream became stronger. I would not only be able to help my lost souls but also ensure that pwhy lived on, albeit in a new manifestation. It was time to share the dream no matter how impossible it seemed. And I did and believe me it did not go down well initially. Many found it preposterous. But I persisted. Somehow I knew deep inside me that it was the right way to go. There were many false starts, times when we actually believed that dream would become reality but then it all came down like a house of cards leaving me hurting and bewildered but I held on to my dream even when it looked improbable to all and even if the hurt seemed too much to bear.

I guess the God of Lesser Beings must have taken pity on the old biddy as he sent one of his timely miracles and we were able to purchase a plot of land, making planet why shift from the realm of fantasy to that of reality. And the soon the rock pile ceased to be one as St Exupery’s words came back to me: A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral . The next step was to secure funding to build my cathedral. Naively as always I copied what was written on my heart to paper and credulously believed that others would embrace my way. It sounded so simple. But then the world shook as markets tumbled. There was nothing one could do but watch helplessly and tuck away the dream in the recesses of ones’ mind before someone broke it.

Time passed. The fears returned as the fragility of pwhy became even more apparent with each new grey hair or creaking knee. I could not keep watching, I had to act. I prayed for another miracle but none was forthcoming. I shared my angst with the few I trusted seeking help. Some one suggested a more business like approach; candid and passionate appeals had no place in today’s hard hitting world. The proposal needed to be vetted, but all that cost money and we had none. But when all doors seemed closed, God does open a window. An Angel appeared and agreed to do the much needed feasibility study of planet why. What followed were weeks of nail biting and furious pacing. But the God of Lesser Beings decided to be extra benevolent and the study was completed and ended with the words: In our opinion, the proposed development at Planet Why is a lucrative and financially feasible and one which would be able to generate much higher returns than are typically found in guest houses operating across Delhi. This was sheer music to my ageing years. But it also meant that the dream needed to be actualised and the search for funds begin all over again. This was nothing short of terrifying. Would I be able to achieve this? I knew I had no choice and I also knew that the God of Lesser Beings would be with me. And moreover planet why would take time as no cathedral is built in a day! That meant that funds would be needed to carry on our daily work.

As I write these words, many the world over have come forward to hold my hand and help me make my dream come true. What we need is a huge miracle, is the God of Lesser Beings listening?

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