Nov 22, 2010
Our daughter having settled in Bhopal, my wife and I have been shuttling between Lucknow and Bhopal for the past five years, mainly because we wanted to be with our two little grand children Samriddhi, 10 and Samarth, 2.
During one of our recent visits by train to Bhopal, my wife was struggling to get to her upper berth and her age and weight came in the way, hence I was assisting her to reach there. However, I suddenly noticed the man in the lower berth getting up and virtually pleading with my wife to take his lower berth. Though we have been travelling for several years, this is the first time that we came across such a spontaneous gesture to reach out to help and the man so very sweetly impressed upon my wife that he too will reach her age sometime, sooner or later, and what’s more, he even helped her to make the bedding and settle in the lower berth.
I was simply touched by this outpouring of goodwill and I thanked him profusely but he would have nothing of it, and brushed aside my gratitude saying that it was his duty to come forward in such a situation. Now, that is what I call a Classic Act.
Until recently, we had a parish priest who made it a point to visit as many of his parishioners as possible and despite being frail and in mid-seventies, he had hardly ever missed visiting his flock. He had just retired at 75 but was still to hand over his office. One day, as was his wont, he called me and expressed his desire to visit our home and I happily complied with his wishes. Later in the day, he visited us, spoke some pious words and after a brief prayer he set out to go back to the church.
It was dark, and having to cover almost a kilometre in the dark, I did not want to let him go alone, and I decided to accompany him, and knowing him as I did, I knew that he would not let me reach him to the church. I decided to secretly trail him under cover of darkness till he reached the church safely. But hardly had he walked ten metres when he turned round and virtually reprimanded me not to follow him and go back and be with my family. Now, the priest was very old, he had all the ailments that one would inherit at that age, yet he would simply brush aside my offer to accompany him to his place with the words, “The Lord will take care of me.” I am sure, you, the readers will not agree with me if I do not call this “a Classic Act.”
Now, again, many of you surely know what Ratan Tata, popularly known as Mr Clean, had done soon after the heart of South Mumbai was reeked with blood by the terrorists on 26/11/2008.
Mr. Tata saw to it that every employee, including those who had completed even one day as casuals were treated when the hotel was closed. Help was rendered to all including those who died at the railway station, surroundings including the “Pav-Bhaji” vendor and the pan shop owners.
Ratan Tata personally visited the families of all the 80 employees who in some manner or other were affected. The railway employees, the police staff, the pedestrians who had nothing to do with Tatas were compensated. New handcarts were provided to vendors who lost their carts. Ratan Tata along with senior managers visited funerals for over three days. Salaries were sent by money order during the time the hotel was closed, and yet virtually all the news channels were oblivious to this noble deed. I reckon this is a rare Act of Class.
Now many of us know Warren Buffet, the world’s second richest man. He could have used his money and lived like a Maharaja. No, he continues to live in the same 50-year-old, three-bedroom house in which he lived before he became fabulously rich. He drives his same ten-year-old car with no chauffeur. He could have built his own couple of 27-story Antilias just as Mukesh Ambani did in Mumbai. No, instead, he preferred to give his money to charity and so far it has amounted to a staggering figure of 31 billion dollars. If that is not a Classic Act, what is? His simple mantra is just do not buy what you do not need.
Way back in 1969 when I had hardly got a much sought-after job in a multinational in Mumbai, my younger brother aged 20, suddenly fell seriously ill. He was in a hospital, in a serious condition, and I had hardly anyone to run to and being the eldest among eleven siblings, the financial need back home in Mangalore was very acute.
I was on a three-month probation when one is not supposed to take any day off, and a call comes from the hospital that I should come there. I caught a taxi and was rushing to the hospital when, on the way, I suddenly broke down and this unknown taxi driver, a Sardar, immediately pulls his taxi aside, virtually drags me to a nearby restaurant and pleads with me to tell him my plight.
I opened up to him and he saw to it that I had at least a cup of tea and then he came along with me to the hospital. I stood by the bedside of my brother and so did the Sardar, I could not hold my tears nor did the Sardar and at last I had to virtually push him back to his work and he reluctantly retreated from the place with a palour of gloom over his face. My brother died in a matter of days, but every time I think of my late brother, this good Samaritan of a Sardar makes his appearance in my mind for he has made a great difference to my sorrow by his Classic Act by being by my side when I needed the solace.
Lastly, in Lucknow, I have a doctor neighbour here and if he so willed he could have had a grand reception for his daughter’s marriage. No! He would simply go in for a simple ceremony on his own terrace and he gives a grand treat to the lepers of Blessed Mother Teresa about 40 Kms from his place. Such a Classic Act is very rare to come by where one would go all out after pomp and show in the present day world.
Back home in Mangalore I have witnessed several Classic Acts, such as a man going around distributing food to the poor and the needy languishing by the way side; a whole village coming forward to help the neighbours and if there is a wedding the entire village is pervaded with an aura of joy with people reaching out to the family with help; and if unfortunately there happens to be a funeral then again the village gets engulfed in gloom and the whole neighbourhood turns into one family, coming forward to cater to the needs of the bereaved.
I have even seen people simply leaving their lucrative jobs in the USA and returning to serve the country, the deprived, the sick, aged and the needy. All of them of course are doing their Classic Acts in their own way.
I do not think there is anyone who has a better opportunity to show the Classic Act than our politicians but they mostly go about their lives in selfish pursuits and want to be in the spotlight.
But then there are the people like that good Sardar, the selfless man distributing food to the hungry and the distressed in the streets of Mangalore, and that man as well as of course that lady who return from the greener pastures to silently serve those back home to make a hands-on difference, but for whom no monuments are built, no streets named, no parades thrown.
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