Hello, I am Janak joshi, warrior with USAF 1001st Combat Search & Rescue Unit who happens to be a venture capitalist and technologist from Boston.
My first impressions about MRA (now LMAD) came from my aunt who was persistent in getting me to Asia Plateau, for reasons I never understood back then but thank her for life that she was behind me attending. To date, she still greets me with “I told you so . . . “.
It’s a strange feeling, sitting here, almost 10,000 miles away from Panchgani, that I remember every single hour of my experience at YC 1995. It is 20 below zero outside today, snowing and dark as a moonless midnight at 4 PM as I transcend to reflect on my former self. My journey since, has been more about finding others to help me connect better with them and understanding my subconscious mind to relate to the world with love and compassion.
In the early 90’s, I was a typical 16-year-old teenager from Bombay whose world centered around himself with a life that I thought had all the meaning I ever wanted. I was exposed to a different world, a world of excess, vanity and rebellion. My “youth camp” was about spending summer vacations in Europe and Far East, attending Bollywood premiers and martial arts camp. I thought my state of being was actually how the rest of the world operated. I had never interacted with anyone outside my walled garden and my circle of curated friends and family, who had but all the ingredients I ever needed to be happy.
Yes, I was a hard headed and a little bit spoilt kid, now almost 25 years ago, until I was exposed to the power behind introspection, reflection and mindfulness around my actions. These were but foreign concepts for me, let alone even speak this language.
During my first day of camp in ‘95, I met people from a dozen different states speaking a dozen different languages and who looked, dressed and behaved differently than I was. Made me nervous to think that I could actually talk to them and interact with folks like them for 7 days. This was not meant for me and this is not something I had signed up for. But that thought quickly faded once I was befriended by a group of folks from Amravati. I forget their names but I do not forget their faces and their words: “You must be Janak, it is so nice to have you with us and be a part of our family”. No stranger had ever said that to me before. I felt at peace and calm knowing that I was not going to be alone and lonely in a world of strangers who were not like me. I wish to reconnect with them but not sure who they were.
1995 was my first real youth camp experience or as I tell people, my first real interaction with the rest of the world and the fact that I was just player, not the center. Hearing stories, good, bad and ugly from scores of folks around the world had a somber effect on my inner self. I remember going silent for an entire day, almost in a meditative state before I even started to share my side of the story. But my story was real about my inner feelings around who I was and where and what my purpose lie in life. At 16, there was little I could do to change and influence the world and little I even understood but those 7 days defined who I was going to be for years to come.
I was then introduced to a fascinating concept of quiet-time, which is harder to practice than it sounds for a 16 year old. But the gravitas underneath it’s core concepts laid the foundational capabilities in my mind for decades and one that has helped me deal with any and all situations with family, work, martial arts and in the military. Quiet time for me is sometimes blocking all thoughts and emptying the mind while sometimes it is about focusing on a single topic to understand it better and sometimes it is about reflecting on actions that could have gone better. I remember being on an extraction mission with army units in a very chaotic and threatening situation far from home and blocking out everything but the necessary components to survive, which frankly kept us from being compromised. That’s quiet time for me.
I continued as an organizer in the 1996 camp and left India in 1997. I recently met Viral & Neha in 2016, 20 years since we had last met. And it was as if we never left and as if we had been talking everyday. The bonds you make at Asia plateau will last you forever, and the teachings – hopefully beyond your lifetime. It is up to you to keep up with the teachings, the discipline and the drive to motivate others to be a better person.
Asia Plateau made me recognize my purpose and my abilities and most importantly, the fact that compassion, love and helpfulness ultimately reigns supreme. I try hard everyday to transfer everything I know to my son Akash, who I know will do great in life. He has yet to meet Viral but I am sure we will in the coming years.
For God & Country.