I was finally released from the hospital yesterday, and it was nice to spend the day with my team again.
We were scheduled to meet the Maharajah of Travancore, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, at the royal palace yesterday at 10:30 a.m., but the doctors didn't discharge me until after noon.
So a few members of the team were able to meet the king in the morning before coming to the hospital to pick me up.
The maharajah, 91, is the brother to the last ruling king in Kerala, who surrendered power peacefully in the 1940s when the state elected to transform into a democracy.
The royal family, of Hindu dynasty, remains one of the wealthiest in the world. My teammates arrived at the hospital shortly after their meeting with the king. They were all dressed up in new Indian garb, bejeweled and sparkling as any Indian female would dress if they were about to spend a morning with a King.
Maharajah has been ill the past few days and was discharged from the hospital early just to meet our team at his palace.
Following the morning meeting at the palace, the team was instructed to return to the palace in the afternoon for additional fellowship. But we received a phone call around 1 p.m. that the king was unable to meet us again. He was weak from illness, and likely needed rest.
I asked my teammates to fill me in on the meeting since I wasn't able to be there in person, and one of my favorite stories of the day was hearing that they were able to enjoy tea and conversation in the same sitting area where Queen Elizabeth and Jackie Kennedy Onassis once sat visiting the royal family. There, they drank tea and discussed one very interesting topic that I recently discussed at the Rotary District Conference in Kovalam.
One of the guest speakers at the conference, a legislative minister, spoke about strengthening India through educating women.
When you educate a man, you're educating a person, but when you educate a woman, you're educating an entire community, he so eloquently stated.
The minister spoke about prospering nations and the relationship they each share with high rates of educated women. When women are the beneficiaries of higher learning, he said, nations and economies are transformed for the better.
It was a novel idea and one that I connected with instantly. And I remember while hearing that message, I glanced at my teammate, Janine Campbell, and smiled at her as we shared a quiet moment of eyebrow-lifting and head-nodding agreement.
After the visit to the palace, my teammates explained the king had a similar conversation with Jackie O. many decades ago. When she returned to the United States, she wrote an article on the importance of educating women that was published in Time Magazine.
Even though I wasn't able to be there, it was so enlightening to hear that a 91-year-old king was progressive enough in his time and reign to emphasize the importance of women, and community prosperity through female education.
It's a message I needed to hear once, but most certainly appreciate hearing twice.
Until tomorrow, Victoria.
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