January 01 2016
Inspiration is omnipresent, it is everywhere on the blue dot, in the vast expanse of the universe. Nature in all its abundance is the greatest stimulus, so are the great people in all walks of life who have tread this planet with path breaking discoveries and inventions, artists who have created mesmerizing music and paintings, writers who have told many a fairy tale,sportspeople with spectacular jumps and races, astute leaders and statesmen giving us the independence, courageous citizens who have braved nature’s calamities and become guardian angels ,heroes and brave hearts who have made disaster zones to comfort zones, our gallant soldiers safeguarding our borders and entertainers as catalysts to power life….phew… this list is inexhaustible and boundless!
I sat in my car, after paying obeisance to the omnipotent inspiration, for the year that was and the year that was to be…
My eyes darted to the crowded by lanes near the temple and there he was, at the very same place with his push cart and a crowd swarming around like bees near a flower. How quickly a year had passed, I exclaimed in silence. ..it was on this very day, exactly an year ago, that I saw this man…
January 01 2015
It was around 8 in the morning on a cold new day to the year, with the Sun’s rays penetrating the fog, it was a battle of supremacy between the two forces of nature. After bowing to the Almighty, I was walking down the steps when I saw a animated crowd near a decorated push cart that was painted in bright blue. I paused to see what the hullabaloo was about. Taking few steps towards the direction of action, I found a sari clad woman with a big red bindi on her forehead, hair nicely tied in a bun adorned with flowers. She was pumping the kerosene stove to light it, a young girl, probably her daughter was pouring batter on the greased idli plate while her husband, again presumably, was catering to the crowd. A small boy of around ten, was seen distributing disposable plates.
Inquisitiveness got the better of me and I made my way to the cart. I asked a patron with the plate like Oliver with the bowl, “En Nadithayithe?” What was happening? The hungry client told me that his friend who was a tea vendor had started a thatte idli angadi (literally translated as plate idli shop) today and as an inaugural offer was selling two idlis free along with an order of one cup bisi chai !(hot tea).
Meanwhile, the proud owners of the wayside fare were up and running with the steaming idli vessel on the furnace, the aromatic chutney wafting in the air and I fell prey to the temptation of smell. The proprietor was only too eager to serve me. “Thoggoli madam avre”, please have madam, the lady and her partner said in unison with absolute warmth and fondness. The young girl gave a brief sideways coy glance at me but quickly went back to pouring of batter, the coconut chutney was served by the bubbling effervescent boy and now it was my turn to look at the chap, clad in hand me downs that were a wee bit big for his skinny legs, in appreciation and pride at this gala family affair. No ribbon cutting by celebrities, no swanky and plush hotels, no modern appliances to mark the launch but simple people with minimum tools.
I was fascinated by the simplicity of these ordinary people who were blissfully unaware of the new dawn and hardly bothered about the festivities marking the roll of the counter. They toiled hard to make two ends meet but still had the large heart to humbly address each one of their customers and serving them with love and affection. I finished my couple of fluffy soft idlis, delighted at my first rendezvous with a road side eatery and it was an affair to remember!
I was in no hurry to get back home, as by this time, my family too had joined me after their hour long jaunt at the books and stationery shop nearby. I urged them to try out the new delicacy from ‘Nagaraj Thatte idli ‘, the name colourfully written on the side of the push cart. Tentatively they stepped forward, immensely surprised to see an ever so obsessive champion of hygiene and cleanliness licking my plate clean standing by the congested road in the not so clean environs!
The batter got over in no time thanks to the already well established clientele that he had built over the years selling aromatic tea in that area. The Durga temple, the Garebhavipalya bus stop and the dozens of shops nearby was lucrative for his business. I was eager to strike up a conversation with Nagaraj and his laborious family and started the tete a tete with the customary ”Channagithe Thindi”, nice the tiffin was I said. He was overwhelmed by my words and put some plastic stools for us to sit. The crowd had now disappeared and they were cleaning up. My man of the moment, I rationalized, has to overcome so many hurdles and barriers to see his day through and this comes in the form of power cuts, that makes his hurricane lantern more valuable and handy, hungry urchins pleading for a morsel, beat policemen doing their rounds and yelling to clear off from the pavement, silenced by a bakshish, the intractable weather Gods and rising inflationary conditions. A barrage of questions followed on how he went about his business to which he gestured that he would be back in a moment. He took part of the day’s earnings, a paltry sum, as the earnings were only for the tea, to the temple and put them in the hundi and came back running. “Ammavare…first day allava adhuke dever ke namaskara maad beku.” Had to place a sum to Lord as it was the first day of business!
We paid him for the tea and no amount of cajoling by us convinced him to take the money for the idlis. “Rules ellarku ondhe..ivathu free” rules are same for all as today it is free, said he without batting an eyelid. I soon found out that his daughter was studying in the ninth standard and son in the fifth class in a Government run school nearby. Overawed by their daily grind and back breaking job, my sons gifted the children some notebooks and pens which was accepted with a great sense of gratitude. The pedagogical instincts rose in my husband and he told Nagaraj that he would sponsor the education of his daughter. Nagaraj’s wife Manjula fell at our feet with a look of indebtedness and I felt abashed at their act which caught me off guard!
What a motivational start to the new year- gratifying like never before…
But this ordinary mortal by the name Nagaraj is my inspiration for 2015 as I watched him at work day in and day out with the family always by his side. His virtues are his fortitude, his recipes are his inventions, his patrons are his discoveries, and his vision is a better tomorrow. I am awestruck by his simplicity and humility, the subservient nature paying obeisance to the creator, the determination to work hard by burning the midnight oil, the business acumen with sound marketing skills, and honesty with a dream to conquer the hardships of life without any grumble or complaint. Here is a man in flesh and blood who implores me to salute him for his charismatic ability to lead me into better things. No revolutionary things or changes are brought about by him on the society but the resilience to succeed is an impetus to follow. There is never an element of greed, avarice or malice in his demeanor or the fear of the unknown or to make headlines but the will to build a small little world around him!
The beauty of this inspiration is that Nagaraj does not know that he is a shaker and a mover for me, an influence that has excited my mind into positive activity with such profoundness to have belief in self and lead me into a world devoid of disappointments and dejections.
One can find many such inspirations here in http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/ http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/ #SpreadTheVibe , amazing selfless stories of grit and determination.