Musings for a responsible society

Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my vain!
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For inspiration, don’t always look up. Look down too!

We often hear the speakers and life-style gurus talking of gaining inspiration from people who have reached top echelons. We have great leaders, saints, spiritual masters, achievers-who are dead or alive- to be our role models. But, occasionally one would find such popular reference models too idealistic, impractical and out of context.

There is a possibility that one would no longer get any excitement on repeatedly hearing about the great achievements of these role models. We tend to judge these great people as endowed with unique virtues, brought up in unusual circumstances and blessed with infinite potential to succeed. And we conclude that either they are not ordinary human beings, or the eulogy that they succeeded against many odds is too embellished and hard to believe.

This judgment results in making us believe that they are not people one can easily emulate. And we tend to justify our attitude that certain things are impossible for us and then satisfy ourselves with our achievements and limited goals.

That is why, the sermons, speeches, inspirational stories and biographies of great persons do not motivate people to an expected extent.

But, there are several ‘ordinary’ persons around us and most often 'below' us from whom we can draw inspiration. It could be our children, employee, servant, or any other person. When we directly see, certain achievements or unique traits in others around us, we get convinced that such thing is possible for us also.

I have come across several such ordinary persons during my daily interactions, whose actions, habits or lifestyles have influenced me.

Manjunath is one such person. This young man, who is in his twenty’s started a pharmacy in a small room in the residential colony where I stay. That was when two shops in the same line of business closed down in succession because of poor turnover. I was amazed at the way Manjunath single-handedly ran his shop, with just one part-time assistant. He stacked all types of medicines, dietary supplements, toiletries, cosmetics systematically in that room. He could cater to the need of every person, unlike many other pharmacies where we don’t get some of the medicines mentioned in the prescription, instantly. Though there are several other medical stores within the colony, one can see people thronging only in Manjunth’s shop. This is the only shop in the area that functions continuously for about 14 hours, from 8.30 AM to 10.30 PM. It is very inspiring to see how he responds simultaneously to several customers, checks the medicines in his sleek system, gives medicines from the neatly arranged boxes, collects the amount, swipes the card, gives the change, records the orders for home delivery in a book etc. Apart from this, he also recharges the simcards of the customers of various mobile operators and also books tickets, online.

What I found unique in him was his alertness, enthusiastic response to everyone, swift action, numerical skills, and awareness of customer needs. And I saw the results: how such hard work, awareness of the requirements of people, intelligent application of resources, positive attitude and enthusiasm improve not only one’s social and economic status, but also physical and mental well being. I am sure; every visitor in his premises gets inspired by him.

Our part-time maid, Kalpana, who comes to sweep and swab in our house teaches us the need for punctuality. We always had the experience of house maids who were not always on time. Usually, it used to be like this. If it was agreed to come at 7 AM in the morning on all the six days of the week, on the first day the maid will come at 7.05 AM. Next day, it will be 7.15 AM.  The third day, 7.30 AM, and so on. After a few weeks, the arrival time will be around 8 AM and there will be several days of absence in a month. We got used to this schedule with most of the maids. But Kalpana surprised us with her punctuality. She works in several houses. The agreed time to work in our house is from 2 PM to 5 PM. She came on the first day at 2 PM sharp. We thought she would delay her arrival in due course. Her discipline in her job is inspirational. She continued to come at 2 PM, almost every day. In exceptional circumstances, if there is delay, even if it is just 15 minutes, she would call us in advance and inform about the delay. She gets into the assigned work systematically every day. We don’t require any Management Gurus to teach us Time Management. Kalpana, this part-time house maid teaches us through her life. Are we, the so called ‘educated elites’, punctual like Kalpana, in our respective workplaces?

Vijayakumar, the man who irons my dress, also has something unique to teach. He works in a School as Lab Assistant. He leaves home at 7 AM and reaches back at 7 PM. His salary was not sufficient for maintaining his family. He decided to do some odd job to get an extra income. With just an investment of less than Rs 500, he started his ironing business. He comes to our residential colony every day around 8 PM to collect clothes for ironing. In the late night, he irons all the clothes and delivers them to the respective houses next evening. He is very well-mannered, fluent in English, and prompt in his work.
Vijayakumar has proved that every job has dignity, and there should be professionalism in every job. He says, “Instead of wasting my time watching Television at home, I use it for this productive work. My wife helps me in this and we derive extra income for making our life a little easier”

There are many such ordinary people we come across everyday who can teach us important lessons in living. A successful person is one who absorbs the positive traits of others. Like a magnet that attracts all metal objects towards it, one needs to draw all the positive traits around towards oneself. And repel all negative vibes around!

Sometimes, we learn even from our kids. I was not much inclined towards outdoor games during my childhood. It was my son who inspired me to get into the swimming pool. And it was my daughter who pushed me to the tennis court. And I enjoy both and am thankful to them for removing my inertia.

Motivation comes from all around. We may not know sometimes who influenced us. But we should realize that bulk of the credit for the virtues we have, goes to some ordinary individuals with extra ordinary lives. They are not 'below' us. I feel, they are much above us!

Sibichen K Mathew
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  1. very true.. as to what you have written. The people who serve us in our everyday needs are so systematic in their approach and so efficient in their work.It never fails to amaze me.

    Glad to have found you at indiblogger. Your newest follower and a regular visitor now.

  2. The real warriors will always be noticed even if they may never get a chance to make it to the forefront. But they are kings and queens in their own world. The most admirable thing in them is their grounded confident attitude. How I wish that the world will stop pretending that only the powerful and purseful people are great! Sindhu

  3. I agree, when I was in India my mother's maid was very intelligent. I used to ask her opinion whenever I had some problem. She used to have a logical solution. I am amazed by the sincerity of such people to rise in life. Quite inspiring, we need to look all around to get inspired.

  4. excellent say, sibi, mind opener in reality. My son had done a part time job in a restaurant in U.S.m while pursuing his studies. Now when we went on our family trip together, he was very particular to tip, in restaurants, and taxis.

  5. Highly inspirational stories, Sibi. Really inspirational.

  6. You said it right. But WE often miss or overlook to learn from ordinary people. Therefore it is said, Let the knowledge come from all sides!

  7. Wonderful post. Something like this is what I intended communicating in my 'Change the way you value people', though this particular aspect of valuing the dedication of people probably did not come out as clearly as you have made it here.

    Sometimes I think the biggest disservice we did was calling Gandhi 'Mahatma'! Made us think that such things could only be done by a 'Mahatma' and was out of the reach of ordinary people.

  8. Quite true. Just like beauty lies in the eyes of beholder, it is up to the person to seek inspiration from !

  9. wonderful read and i am able to recall similar cases of the milk and newspaper vendors(young school going boys) who are punctual and prompt, come rain or shine , i always look upto them for motivation and inspiration. Thanks for sharing and hey I am blogging too- heck out mine!

  10. The thoughts are beautifully put into words.

  11. The thoughts are beautifully put into words..

  12. Thanks for the following (surprise!)comments from respected TSK, former Chief Election Commissioner of India:

    'Well-written.This brings out that you are humane enough to appreciate these little things.
    Small minds & great empires go illtogether,so the saying goes.
    It requires big heart/mind to appreciate the humble creations of God.'
    Best wishes

  13. This is such an awes0me post !! soo well pointed out !! looking up always is not always inspiring!! there are soo many people around us frm whom we can learn life's smallest and biggest lessons !!
    In awe with your writing and the context !! Truely inspiring post !


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