Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crossing the Road!

Living in Sweden gives you a high sense of confidence as when you cross the road all vehicles patiently wait. India is always different as it is a challenge for pedestrians especially if they find they have to cross over. Usual comments from a speeding vehicle will be a friendly “Did you inform home when you started?” or a more aggressive “ Brainless/headless Living thing..what is the great urgency you have?”. So when I landed in Chennai I did not take the risk to cross. Only cows have the courage to walk freely on roads but they also don’t take a chance in the Highways. In some states cows are also called as “Brake Testers” as they can give surprises to drivers.
But soon I was forced to do this - my friend called me and said he is on the other side of the road and since we have to go the same way I should cross over to save time.
I decided to risk the journey. After three attempts of putting my foot down from an elevated side road (which had some traces of a footpath) and putting it back I decided to move on like the First Zebra which crosses over the crocodile infested river in Africa.
I took three steps into the road when a Police vehicle came to halt. Looking back thankfully I moved on when the driver of the SUV got down and showed his hand to me to stop. I was wondering “Why should I?” but stopped. Vehicles behind started to honk as some of you know like in Sweden you have to have your lights on always when driving, in India you have the horn on always when driving (gives a sense of security of the drivers). The police driver approached me and said “ Inspector wants to talk to you?”
I thought this is not my day. Though my hand started to sweat a bit I kept my cool in my face (I thought so) and walked back towards the same footpath where I originated and moved closer to the vehicle. A young inspector with a Coolers on was inside with a broad smile. He asked “Ramakrishnan Sir”. Not sure if there was some sarcasm in his “Sir” I said “Ye…yaa. Yesss” with raising eyebrows. He got down and removed his hat. Then bowed down before me…I was taken aback and moved back two steps in reflex
He understood that I did not recognize him. He said “I am Sekar your student in Tuticorin”. Still I did not recollect. I said “ I am not a teacher..maybe you are mistaken”. He kept smiling and said” Sir, I know you are not a teacher. But you were a teacher for me. I am the grandson of Damu in whose mess you used to eat when you were alone working in Tuticorin. I was in 10th standard and my grandfather asked if you could help me with Maths. You agreed and taught me 3 months in evenings/weekends. But you motivated me a lot sir during this 3 months. My father died early and my mother was struggling with my grandfather. You told that I you should show the world that you are a success and make your mother proud”. I started to remember.
He continued” I studied hard but got only 75% in 10th Standard but in 12th Standard I got 85%. We did not have money to join Engineering though I got admission. I did my Degree and joined Police at early age as my family needed money. I got promoted to Inspector this year. If there is someone who inspired me it is you sir. I have written what you said in a notebook and refer back whenever I feel low”. I was astonished. Small things which I don’t even remember has such great impacts. I felt pride in my heart. He dropped me in my home and said will come again.
He was a pedestrian who wanted to cross the road..there were some options for those in vehicle. Ignore and drive on with our life. Stop to let him pass (donate some money hoping it reaches him). Get down and make him confident so that he just not passes this crossing but builds confidence to cross several more roads. Hands on social contribution is much more fulfilling than hands off…I started to feel that I should start doing something more than just writing cheques to NGOs as if there are more Sekar’s who get motivated at the right age the world will be a better place for everyone.

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Gothenburg, Sweden
Still finding introspecting to find who am I? Waiting for a Guru!