The little things

We went on a trip to Coorg, a few months back. It was a road trip with 4 people going from Chennai to Coorg in a car. We all were happy to go on a trip as it was a break from ‘day to day routine’ after a long gap. I was a bit conscious, as the company I had was totally different from my ideal travel companions. I am the person who would like to visit as many places possible, at a tourist spot. The other three wanted to cover the least possible places and relax at hotel/Zostel for the rest of the time.

If you know, there are very few hill stations in the south. So we had a very specific recommendation about a place Mandalpatti from many people. First two days, we visited a few places, but I was more concerned about the ones we were skipping. Finally, We went to Mandalpatti on the third day. It was a pleasant experience with clouds in front of our eyes and cool breeze touching our skin; while standing on the edge of a mountain. 

As soon as anyone reaches the top he/she could see a small structure. Everyone wanted to be on that last stretch of height even after reaching 4050 ft. Everyone had that urge to climb those stairs and go up by a meagre 10 ft. Like everyone else, we too had to try this!  We tried, there was no such difference. We laughed at ourselves, and others, on how we aren’t satisfied with what we are getting. With this experience, I also reflected on the last two days trip. I thought that I should have been more worried about whether I was in that moment or not, when we went to a spot, than being constantly concerned about missing others. 

The discussion extended on how we always want something different. While we may have good work and money, we might miss the culture. We shift for an organisation with a good culture, and with that change we generally end up missing good work or the salary part. This is just a small example

 It can happen with our relationships with people. When we are around someone we might be busy in the virtual world, only to miss them while they aren’t there. We want to be like our dad in childhood, only to miss it while we grow up. 

Though we will only know the value of something in hindsight, I thought let me start enjoying the little things that I am part of. Maybe next time, I will try to absorb the smell of tea at hand, or enjoy my everyday calls with family more, or enjoy the stay in south Indian city more. Maybe!

Honesty in Dishonesty

I had to travel from Delhi to Indore. I was already late to reach the station. It was almost the time and I was afraid that I might miss it. I was rushing with two bags in my hands, One of which was quite heavy. I saw that the train was delayed by 30 mins and took a deep breath. The train was at the 4th platform. So I had to take carry the luggage to the 4th platform using overbridge. This was a bit irritating after a journey in state transport bus from Rohtak for 5 hours. 

Just as I was taking my last few downward steps, I saw a guy, he was visibly very much helpless. He was asking two men about something. He was somehow now able to converse with those men. Out of pity feeling, I asked him what happened. He tried to talk in his broken Hindi. I somehow sensed that he might be Marathi speaking guy. I said few words in Marathi n suddenly his face lit up. He was indeed a Maharashtriyan guy. He then told me that he had been traveling with his family (He, his mother, father and a sister) before they got separated from his father. His father was having all the cash and they literally have nothing .

Then I probed him, “Which place in Maharashtra?”

He reverted “Nanded.”

I said, “I am from Hingoli district (which is near Nanded) where are you exactly from?”

He reverted, “Sengaon in Hingoli district”

I was surprised as it was my place. So I asked him an exact place and he was from a village 6 kms from mine. I couldn’t believe it, so I asked him for his I’d proof. He showed me his driving license. He was indeed from a place near me. I also got to know that he and I have someone mutual known person. I tried to call that person by taking the number from my dad. I couldn’t reach him and my dad to advised me to not to help unless the uncle ask to do so. I had also heard stories from my friends about people making excuses at Delhi station and then taking money. But, my heart wasn’t listening, it wasn’t accepting that it was a just another coincidence – a person met me at Delhi station, who is in need n is exactly from a place 1500 kms  in Maharashtra. It can’t be just coincidence. I shall definitely help him. I took all my luggage, looked at my watch, I had 12 mins to afford which was a short duration. Still, I went Out and got cash from ATM and gave him 2500 rupees.

I didn’t ask him for return but he himself promised me to return it. He took my dad’s number and address. Hence I admitted to my dad of helping him and asked him to take money whenever this guy visits. Few days went by and my dad kept telling me that no one came. I was asking him to keep patience as it will take time for this guy to arrange money. Finally after months of not turning up, we accepted that this guy isn’t going to return it. It was a bad experience for me and a lesson learnt.

3 years down the line, I was coming from Rishikesh to Haridwar on my bike. I stopped in between just to check a call. By the time I ended my call, I find a couple waiting next to me. They told about how they came to Haridwar looking for work but due to fog there in no work. The couple too was from Maharashtra. Once again I thought what a level of coincidence that I stopped my bike at random outskirt point and found someone looking for help. But due to my past experience, I told them I can only help by a few bucks for a meal and extended 150 rs which I had in my wallet. This guy immediately replied, “I don’t want to lie to you. But I had food in this temple (pointing at a temple nearby) So if you are giving money for food, I can’t take it. I need money for the ticket. 500 is something that shall do”. I told him that I don’t have and shall check if there is an ATM in next 500 meters stretch. If I find one I will come back and give money otherwise I won’t. He said OK. Though I didn’t find an ATM in 500 mtr stretch I found one after it. Somehow I didnt had enough motivation to return from that long. There was one side of me telling not to leave someone in the cold of uttarakhad. The other side of me was reminding about the earlier incident. The later side finally turned victorious.

That night I kept thinking how dishonesty in an honest work broke the chain completely. At least few things should be kept pure. If someone wants to cheat there are so many other ways than taking blanket of some pure things. There should be some honesty even in dishonest things.

My tryst with Beggars

Incident 1: The Sin

During my college days, we used to have a lot of construction workers living in the boundary of the college. Their kids used to roam around in the college. As a part of the social club of our college, we had decided to teach these kids. Over the period, the kids got acquainted with us. Many times that these kids used to ask for 2-3 rupees to get a pen or pencil. We never hesitated in giving them the same. One day He had taken a 2 Rs coin. Just an hour after it, I spotted him at the college entrance gate. He went to a Pan shop and got a tobacco packet. I was stunned to realize that Indirectly I have been feeding that tobacco to him.

Then I decided to stick to my family’s principle to feed a beggar/needy to the fullest,  but never give him money.

Incident 2: Feeding the hungry

Next time when I was in Mumbai I saw a kid outside McDonald’s. He was there with his mom. The mother kept asking us to give a burger only for the kid and she doesn’t want anything for herself. Sitting inside the restaurant, I couldn’t take my eyes off the activities of the kid. So finally I gave up, got a burger and gave it to him.

Surprisingly next two times, when I went to that place I again saw the mother and kid there. I was angry by this time and questioned her why she keeps sitting there. She explained it to me that someone offered a burger to the kid and now he is unwilling to eat the normal food prepared. She said it would have been very cheap and easy to prepare food worth a few bucks and feed completely to the kid. But it is almost impossible to feed him with the burgers or anything else which is so costly.

Incident 3: The empathy

By now, I had made up my mind that I shall help in giving something permanent to any beggar or nothing. I thought of giving them something which shall help them in long term.

Unfortunately, I faced a similar situation just 10 days after the McD incident. It was raining heavily that day. I was going in a cab somewhere. The cab took a long time at a signal due to some congestion. I saw two kids selling some items in that rain on a traffic signal. I saw an honest effort to make money there than simply begging. They were wearing just a vest on the top and were fully drenched in the rain. So, I couldn’t resist but offer my umbrella to one of them. He could have accepted but he was indeed a genuine guy. He smilingly told me that it will be better if I buy something from him. If he starts using a raincoat or an umbrella then people who shall be buying from him out of empathy, they too shall not buy.

Incident 4: Finding the best way

Finally one day, outside a mall I again saw a group of kids. They were selling some sketchbooks and the basic elementary books like that of ABCD. This time I thought let me take a book from him but I had no use. Then I thought about it and took a book from him after agreed payment. Immediately I tore down the cover pages of it. I asked the kid did you ever get a chance to read it and he replied with a no. I handed over him the same book and said do read it this time. Now he had no option to sell that again.

An hour after while coming out of the mall, I saw those kids again.  the kids were done with selling all their books and were sitting on the footpath. One was holding the book that I gave them and the other four were sitting with a flower formation around him. I was happy to see this. I thought maybe this is the best thing I could have done –  something which will help them for the future.

VP – Netmeds, IIM Lucknow, VNIT Nagpur

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