Relationships: a truly heart-warming incident

I am re-posting, with a few changes, The cup of coffee, which was originally posted on July 30, 2013.

“He’s a Maharashtrian,” said the Maharashtrian.

“No, he’s Saraswat,” said the Saraswat.

“Boss, forget all that! He’s a Mumbaikar,” said the Tamil-speaking Mumbaikar.

“Don’t forget his wife is Gujju,” said the Gujarati.

To add fuel to the fire, I added, “What about the fact that his mother-in-law is British?”

A few of us were discussing Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th International Hundred. All were in ‘Apnaa aadmi’ mode, each person trying to claim Sachin as his own man! All in good humour, of course.

This set me thinking. How many people would have claimed, in good humour or otherwise, the same Sachin Tendulkar as their own man when he was just another cricket-playing youngster? Everybody loves to be associated with rich, successful, well-connected persons, but how many people reach out to a struggler or a nobody?

I remember my own experience when I moved alone to a new city on a transfer over 25 years back. I had never visited that city earlier. I did not have any relatives or friends there. Since I worked in a capital equipment sales and service company, I met a large number of people in the course of my work, developed good personal rapport with many of them, but unwritten company policy was professional relationships remained professional unless there was a prior personal connection. I did meet a few persons with whom there was some earlier connection (same community, same ‘home city’, friend’s friend, etc.), but nobody seemed enthusiastic about reaching out to a 20-something newcomer to their city, and I didn’t want to impose. My neighbours were helpful, but not exactly friendly.

One day, a few months after I had shifted to this city, I met my customer, the General Manager – Projects of a leading automotive ancillary at the airport. I was on my way to Mumbai, while he was flying to Delhi. There was another gentleman with him, whom he introduced as his Executive Director. When I handed my Business Card to the ED (let’s call him Mr. K), he immediately broke into a huge smile and said, “Hey, your family name is the same as mine!” He asked about my family tree and looked disappointed when he realised that we were not related. By then, their flight was ready for boarding. He gave me his Business Card and told me to drop in at his residence whenever convenient. He also told me to meet him whenever I visited their Company so that we could “chat over a cup of coffee”.

I had to meet the GM-P the next week. After completing our discussion, I went to Mr. K’s office, handed my Business Card to Mr. K’s secretary and asked to meet Mr. K. The secretary asked if I had an appointment. When I replied in the negative, he asked me what I wanted to discuss with Mr. K. I replied, “I just want to say Hello to him. It’s just a courtesy call.” Now, Mr. K was the Big Boss in that Company. Can you imagine anybody walking into the Prime Minister’s office and asking to meet Narendra Modi “just to say Hello”? The secretary was perplexed! I could almost hear him thinking, “Is this guy mad?” But, he had seen my family name was the same as Mr. K’s. He picked up the intercom, dialled a number, and spoke, “Sir, one Mr. K from XYZ Ltd. wants to meet you. He said it’s a courtesy call.” Within a few seconds, Mr. K walked out from his room, shook my hand, and said, “I’m sorry I’m in a meeting. Is this only a courtesy call, or is there anything specific you had to discuss?” When I said it was only a courtesy call, he replied, “My meeting will go on for some time. So there’s no point in your waiting. I’m sorry I can’t spend time with you now. But please do meet me the next time you come here.”

Two weeks later, I visited that Company again to meet the GM-P. Again, after completing our discussion, I went to Mr. K’s office and asked Mr. K’s secretary if I could meet Mr. K, just a courtesy call. The secretary spoke to Mr. K on the intercom, then asked me to enter Mr. K’s room. Mr. K was in a meeting with 3 other persons. He requested them to wait outside for a few minutes and chatted with me for about 10 minutes over a cup of coffee.

I was touched by Mr. K’s gesture! I was a young person in the early stages of my career, while he was a very highly-placed person who had absolutely nothing to gain by being nice to me.

That cup of coffee was the beginning of a long friendship between Mr. K’s family and mine.

Today is Mr. K’s 81st birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mr. K! May you have many more!!
Thank you for that cup of coffee.
It really meant a lot to me.

Genuine relationships or fairweather relationships?


This poster, sent by a friend, set me thinking.

Do we treat everybody with about the same amount of respect and consideration?

Or do we give immense amounts of respect and consideration to people only if they are wealthier and/or more powerful and/or better connected than us, and little or no respect and consideration to people if we are wealthier and/or more powerful and/or better connected than them and we are definitely unlikely to need their help in any way in the foreseeable future?
Worse, do we maintain relationships with people only when they are wealthier and/or more powerful and/or better connected than us, and end those relationships when we become wealthier and/or more powerful and/or better connected than them and we are definitely unlikely to need their help in any way in the foreseeable future?

Do we have genuine relationships? Or do we have fairweather relationships?

Bodyguard (55 Fiction)

A funny thing happened on my way to work today.

There were huge crowds outside all schools.

On enquiring, I was told that, since all parents had signed forms saying that the schools and their staff are not responsible for the safety of students, almost all parents had sent a personal bodyguard with each child.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. (Prompt: Include this line in your post: ‘A funny thing happened on my way to….’)

‘Pro Kabaddi’ is here!

In my post Believe it or not! IPL-type Pro Kabaddi League! on March 25, 2014, I had written about the launch of Pro Kabaddi in Mumbai on March 14, 2014.

Pro Kabaddi starts on Saturday, July 26, 2014 at 7.45 pm at National Sports Club of India (NSCI), Mumbai.

There are 8 teams (Bengal Warriors, Bengaluru Bulls, Dabang Delhi, Jaipur Pink Panthers, Patna Pirates, Puneri Paltan, Telugu Titans and U Mumba) taking part. Each team will play the other 7 teams twice in July and August, 2014 at 8 venues (Bengaluru, Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Patna Pune and Vizag). The finals will be held on Sunday, August 31, 2014 at Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, Bengaluru.

The matches will be telecast live on Star Sports 2 and Star Gold.

Please visit the Pro Kabaddi website for information about the teams, players, schedule and venues of Pro Kabaddi 2014.

Let us all resolve to do our bit by watching Pro Kabaddi. If we cannot make it to the venues, let us watch the live telecasts.

Please spread this information on your blogs and on Facebook, Twitter, etc..

When victims of an unfair system become perpetrators of corruption

I am re-posting, with a few changes, Not my problem?, which was my first blog post, originally posted on June 15, 2013. The incident described took place a couple of decades back.

My neighbours had 2 children: a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. All the neighbours observed that only the son was regularly treated to goodies like chocolates and ice-creams by his parents. The daughter never got such goodies. This was blatant discrimination, but none of the neighbours was close enough to the parents to raise the subject with them.

I was puzzled by the fact that the daughter, who was only 12 years old, never seemed to be perturbed about being denied the goodies that her brother enjoyed. The mystery was solved when I learnt that, whenever she was sent to buy provisions from the neighbourhood grocer, he ‘over-invoiced’ (for those who don’t know, this means he prepared a bill for a higher amount) and passed on the over-invoiced amount to her. She would use these amounts to buy goodies without her parents’ knowledge.

An underprivileged person had decided not to accept the unfairness of the system. She used ‘unfair means’ to compensate for the system’s unfairness, but she probably had no option. It was sad that her own parents had unwittingly led her to dishonesty.

There are many persons who do not have access to all or some of the basic necessities of life only because they happen to have been born in an underprivileged family. Wouldn’t such persons want to acquire those basic necessities? If they cannot acquire those basic necessities by fair means, wouldn’t they be tempted (perhaps compelled) to resort to ‘unfair

A person who has successfully achieved something by ‘unfair means’ once would be tempted to do it again, leading to some more such episodes, ultimately resulting in corruption becoming a habit.

How do privileged people like us (yes, we are privileged people!) react when we come across persons who do not have access to all or some of the basic necessities of life only because they happen to have been born in an underprivileged family? Do we try to do something about it, or are we indifferent since we are not directly affected?

We may not be affected by the suffering of today’s underprivileged person. But we certainly could be affected by the corruption or any other crime that today’s underprivileged person is pushed into. If, by helping an underprivileged person, we prevent that person from being pushed into corruption or crime, we are not just helping that person; we are helping ourselves and society at large.