Showing posts with label Homeless. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homeless. Show all posts

Friday, July 20, 2012

Finally, I did it! [202/365]

After several thoughtful months and a sabbatical, I made the difficult choice of resigning from a company that I came to love.

Leaving a company is never easy. More so when you've invested so much of yourself into the company. Five years was longer than I'd initially thought. But when time came, I knew I had to go.
It's a uncomfortable decision. I've survived and grown.

Leaving my zone of comfort was disturbing, but I knew I had to. Narayan Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys once famously said, "Love your job, but never fall in love with your company because you never know when the company stops loving you... "

Which brings me to an instance of where the society refuses to love its people. I'd written about an amateur artist who is differently abled several weeks ago. As I recalled in regret how I could not be of help to him, I got the perfect chance to undo that regret today. Passing by, I saw the gentleman sitting at the pavement and this time, I decided I would stop and chat with him.

Mahesh, a 23 year old from Kolar, is an amateur painter who ekes out a living by painting with his crippled legs. As I was speaking with him, curious onlookers and tourists stopped to understand what was going on. Some people threw some rupees but he was not interested in free money. I wanted to buy a few paintings and he even gave me four of his favorite drawings. We chatted and all the while, Mahesh is painting deftly with his feet. Anywhere abroad, an artist like Mahesh would have been feted and his paintings sold for thousands of dollars. In a country where you'd meet able bodied beggars at every signal, Mahesh was a breath of fresh air. Infact, some of the beggars, seeing as I was being generous with a cripple, wanted some money too.

Men like Mahesh is what keeps India vibrant and progressive. They don't want quotas and freebies. They want equal opportunities in a society that cares.

You might have a bullying boss in your office.
You might have a disability that makes you different from others. You might even wonder why God is not listening to you.

You need to stop thinking you are in a rut and set up that lemonade stand.

Other Heroes in 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point'
Raju
Vikhitha Shetty
Claire Lomas
Poonam Vaidya 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tough Stuff [199/365]


Today's media is filled with sensationalism.

As I was flipping through the bundle of unread newspapers last month, I looked for some good news. I could have found gold in the Pacific easier.

But one particular news article caught my eye. The story of a young boy, Raju, from Karwar.
Abandoned by his parents, he lives in a bus shelter in Karwar and wants to be a cop when he grows up.

Now, there's nothing extraordinary out of this and surely you would've seen dozens of abandoned children at any major rail and bus stations across India. A large majority of them  addicted to paint, glue and crime. The rest would be trafficked and sold piecemeal.
But what sets Raju apart is how his life was and is now. I would urge you to read the story here.

We don't know how we can contribute to this child's life. We may never speak or even meet in person, but this we can- we can spread the word. If we were to reach out to children like Raju, this world and our lives will be little more peaceful.

Other Heroes of 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point'

Vikhitha Shetty
Claire Lomas
Poonam Vaidya 


Friday, March 30, 2012

By the side [89/365]

more Abled than most of us
I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be "happy." I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter and to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.
- Leo C. Rosten

I am not known to be charitable.
Correction: I fail to melt when I see a person begging, just by virtue of a handicap.
A common sight at an Indian traffic, you'd be surprised that many of them would have much more in the bank than you'd believe. Heck they are richer than most of us combined. But of course, I've told you all this before.

Today, commuting to work, I saw a person working away at a pedestrian footpath near a very busy intersection. No, he wasn't begging. He wasn't looking for compassion. He was earning his bread though.
Severely crippled, he was painting. I paused by the side, watched him. Curiously. And so did a lot of other people. Many was bewildered. Some thought he was just trying to seek attention. Surely he was. But he didn't want your money for free. Buy one of his sketches. And those sketches weren't childish amateurish scribbles and doodles, but colorful abstracts with powerful brush strokes. I was amazed and I am pretty sure a lot of passers by were too.
Some did buy his paintings. But I didn't. I procrastinated. I erred. I assumed that he is going to be there the next time I pass by and figured I could buy it then.

I did look for the 'anonymous painter' the next day, but he was gone. No sign of him. I saw him for exactly two days. I wondered what happened. I theorized that the merchants and the cops patrolling the busy CBD didn't like him. He was bad for their image. What will the phirens think? Nothing worse than seeing a crippled man trying to make an honest living. Forget the dilapidated roads, uneven footpaths, overflowing sewers and prostitutes plying their trade under the nose hairs of the cops in the CBD.
I asked one of the merchants and he confirmed my fears. The cops did come and haul him off. He probably has been shunted away from our sanitized eyes into poverty.
But this is not new.

A couple of years ago, there used to be a lady. She was truly homeless. She lived on a footpath about 3 km away from my home. As I came to see her everyday, I began to buy lunch for her. Everyday. She might have been at least 70. She definitely had better days in her past since she had a toe ring. Her worldly possessions were a battered and torn suitcase, some clothes, two mattresses, an umbrella and two stray dogs. I'd see her sitting at exactly the same spot through the day, and when the rains came, the three of them would get under the umbrella. She'd gradually recognize me and smile and fold her hands in thanks when I'd give her the packet of food. This arrangement went on for a few weeks. I remember praying for her and hoping that she sees better days ahead. I was helpless. I wanted to do something. I wanted to bring her home. But wasn't sure how I could take care of her. I was a struggling bachelor then.
Two days before Christmas, with a packet of food for her, I came to the spot where she was for the last 20 years. But she was gone. Her pets were there. They were 'searching' for her. I asked around. They told me that a group of cops hauled her off a few hours ago. I wondered where.
I hope it was to a cozy place, because her belongings were left behind. It was removed a day or two later. And the footpath sanitized.
I did ask the people around. Some long time residents told me that she used to be a wealthy lady who was thrown out of her house and her wealth by her ruthless son. With no where and no one to go to, she stayed on the footpath outside her former home.

Four years on, I still think of her every time I pass the spot.
I hope she is doing better wherever she is.

We err when we procrastinate. I wish I'd bought the painting of that crippled painter when I still had a chance. I wish I'd brought that lady home when I still could.


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