vide T R Subramanian
vide T R Subramanian
Watch out! I have already lost a couple to these Donkeys:-(
Vide T R Subramanian
“A donkey was tied to a tree. One night a ghost cut the rope and released the donkey.
The donkey went and destroyed the crops in a farmer’s land. Infuriated, the farmer’s wife shot the donkey and killed it.
The donkey’s owner was devastated at the loss. In reply, he shot dead the farmer’s wife.
Angered by his wife’s death, the farmer took a sickle and killed the donkey’s owner.
The wife of the donkey’s owner got so angry that she and her sons set the farmer’s house on fire.
The farmer, looking at his house turned into ashes, went ahead and killed both the wife and children of that donkey’s owner.
Finally, when the farmer was full of regret, he asked the ghost as to why did it kill them all?
The ghost replied, “I killed nobody. I just released a donkey that was tied to a rope. It is all of you who released the devil within you which resulted into everything bad that happened.”
Today the media has become like the ghost. It keeps releasing donkeys on a daily basis.
The people foolishly take a stance and argue with one another endlessly. They end up ruining relationships, even when they know that their opinion is of little or no consequence.
Be responsible and do not react to every donkey released by media and preserve your relationship with your friends and relatives. They are too precious to lose over the donkeys released by the crooked media and politicians.“
Time was running out. There was no option – my wife decided she would go to the bank (public-sector) to get the Tax Deduction Statement (TDS) needed for income-tax computation. She would not let me go because of my suspected friendly leanings towards Covid.
Expectedly there were few customers in the branch. She asked for S, an officer, and when he walked up, she identified herself. The magic words ‘TXX’ spoken ‘opened the doors’!
‘Yes, M’m, come in,’ S was all deference. One would have thought she was some high officer from the HO on a sudden field-visit. ‘TXX spoke a while ago. If you’ll kindly be seated here…I’ll get it in a couple of minutes. It’s all printed and ready.’
As she sat down, a cup of hot tea was served with sugar to add!! A feat far beyond you to equal. Forget tea, I challenge you to get for yourself a glass of water – you would be politely directed to a watercooler standing in the hall. And rightly so, after all a bank’s charter of customer services does not include…
In all my years of regularly visiting the bank, I was always politely ignored by the friendly staff, never rude, envied for the attention by the young lizard lounging in the ceiling, despite trusting them with all my life savings – not a huge pile though being a salaried employee all my life. Strictly not true – I distinctly remember the occasion I was on the center-stage, very briefly though, drawing looks from everyone around when I had sent the glass crashing on the floor at the watercooler. Apologies for a little flippancy there, I couldn’t resist.
I was surprised when the lady of the house returned so soon, mission accomplished.
Ah, there were hardly any customers, so the quick turnaround – explains it.
But the part about tea, that was still intriguing.
May be S was related to TXX or a close friend – simple as that.
When TXX called to follow up if everything went off ok at the bank – incidentally therein lies the subject of this post, you’ll find out soon – I told him about the service-with-a-smile-and-tea-to-go-with-it and everything was fine. S was neither a friend nor a relative of his, I learnt. TXX was not even a customer of the bank.
It made it all clear as mud in rain.
So, why the tea, I persisted.
It emerged TXX knew the bank’s regional HR manager.
Ah…so that was it.
Well, it was like this: Until recently TXX was the big honcho in a diagnostic-services company. And the bank was his client sending its employees for annual medical check-up covered under various plans. When it was the HR manager’s turn, at the request of his office, TXX expedited the matters cutting down the wait for him. Simply said, but not simply done – needed TXX, located elsewhere, to call up the testing lab many times to ensure the manager was not unduly held up at any test station.
That was the beginning of the relationship that endures till date, also the moving force for the service-with-a-smile-and-tea-to-go-with-it. Not a favors-done-favors-asked kind of relationship. It continues though TXX has retired from service since and is no longer in a position to help in ways he did during employment. Yes, the two have never met so far!
Many of us in our employment and outside are in a position to help or do favors and we do. Setting him apart is the sincerity and thoroughness of the process, winning the day and setting relationships in concrete for TXX. He doggedly pursues and pushes the problem-owner into action until the intended end result is achieved. In the above bank episode, offering to help, he calls the bank up ahead and tells them what was needed to cut out the wait for my wife and then calls her up later to check if we got what we needed without hassle or anything more had to be done.
This ownership, often far more than the problem-owner’s, endears him to those who seek his help!
It is not limited to those who go to him – he extends himself to any situation he thinks he could be of some help. Comes to him naturally. An engineer first, puts in place solutions not obvious to many, including the grunt work entailed.
Our own experiences of this kind are too numerous to recount here.
And, finally, I have no problems confessing I fall way too short by this standard.
The best reward for me in life is the disproportionately large share of good people I collected around me at different times in life – class-mates, friends, colleagues at work-place and, of course, relatives; people with different strengths, exemplary in their own ways and inspirational to those who care to look; from many of whom I’ve benefited in ways with no capacity or ability to repay in equal kind or measure. I have in the past featured some of them here and there are more to be talked about before time runs out.
This man whom I had wanted to capture and present here for a long time wasn’t easy – the thoughts would not coalesce into a coherent narrative. I have been/am favored with so many acts of his kindness personally that it is easy for me to slip into singing his paeans. Like how he (and a dear cousin) stood by me at my mother’s funeral – it was his birthday, I learnt much later. But I did not want this glimpse of him to be one dimensional, vis-à-vis with me. It would be so unfair for he was/is much more.
While there’s much to be said and written about, I’ll settle for this one incident to reveal the man:
He recently retired from a very senior executive position from a company that owned, operated a chain of medical diagnostic centers that included expensive high-end equipment, a field he had spent all his career in. Post-retirement he took up his first consultancy assignment a month ago; not a son of some industrialist, he needs money like you and I. And yet, he shot this off on his own:
“Dear Dr M, as there is a directive for 65 plus citizens to practice social distancing, I am constrained by my family to travel for work and contribute only remotely. As a small gesture from my end I would like to forego my professional fees for this month of March during this time of crisis.”
Frankly it didn’t surprise me; for, with him, it couldn’t be anything but…
He goes to the temple almost daily and has his own private talk with the gods therein. Like me, not deep into pooja-paat, Gita and scriptures; wears no distinctive mark on his forehead. What does he do in the temple besides praying? Well, helps them in their banking issues using his contacts, gets them a plumber or a lock-smith they urgently need, brings immobile old folks to the temple in his car and drops them back home…When prasadams are freely distributed in goshti’s, only a small portion for him – anything more or a second turn meant some late-comer would go without, he believes.
It’s almost like he is actively on the lookout all the time to jump in and help in ways he can.
Not a preacher, a social-worker or a breast-beating, placard-holding, glory-hungry, funds-seeking, high-decibel activist. Just an ordinary family man like you and me who makes a difference to someone with a legendary attention to details not many of us are capable of.
One of these days, though it isn’t going to be easy, I intend to find out how did these high personal standards – the very goals of orthodoxy – come about. Parental attention? I doubt, though affection, yes, a lot of it. He grew up as the last child of a large family household that also served as a transit/temp camp for a good number of relatives passing thru or visiting Chennai, helping his mother in her chores. Fetching these guests to and fro railway stations at odd hours, yielding his place to a guest and going up to the terrace with the pillow for the night, waiting for an elder sibling to be done with a single-copy school text book before he could peruse, four years spent in the hostel away from home and not visited even once by his own…so were his younger days. And yet a very balanced and practical head screwed onto the shoulders, combining empathy with expediency, without a tinge of bitterness or self-sympathy…
I see him as a religion by himself, all in action, without the usual accouterments of a holy book, highfalutin theology…
Will certainly revert if and when I gain some insights on what has kept him going!
Presently signing off with prayers for his health and long life and a fervent wish he actively grooms many more youngsters in his ways and with deep gratitude for being blessed with his association.
16th of September is an unforgettable day for me – the day a few years ago my old lady (80+) quit on me saying enough is enough. She had carried on gamely all these years hosting ailments in her body that sent doctors routinely back to their books.
With great grand-daughter
This day is also unforgettable for another reason.
In those dark hours following her last breath, I was barely registering what was happening around me and what needed to be done thereafter. You could say I didn’t handle it well; for, after all the lady had lived a full life and was in and out of hospitals in the later years. But then a mother is a mother at any age, had been with her all these years under the same roof. A simple soul, lived not an easy life uncomplainingly, bore rancour towards none, often giving out profound wisdom in her own un-guru like ways. And, I had desperately wanted her to come back from the brink like she did on earlier occasions. Sadly it was not to be this time.
Fortunately I had two veritable angels – no other kith or kin – TRS and SRK (cousin), standing by me taking care of everything save lighting the funeral pyre which I did. And, thanks in no small measure to their spouses, U and V, for their support.
Much later, I learnt the day TRS spent with me in the hospital and the crematorium was his birthday! And SRK had his aged mother (my atthai) living with him who could not be left alone!
So it is today.