The Wolf of Kamarajar Street

The street I live in, a.k.a Kamarajar street, opens up to a wide road. Every morning, as the sun rises in the east (logically speaking, the earth rotates to the west. But then, its okay), and as the early birds fly in pursuit of the worms, this wide road turns into a bustling pathway tread by vehicles of almost all categories. Some people are on the way to their workplaces, some are on the way to schools, and some to their colleges (yes, including me).

But there is one person who stays glued to one place, morning through night. He has a rickety wooden cart with rusted wheels, which is in turn glued to its place with the help of bricks and boulders. Inside the cart there are utensils of different sizes, each housing a different dish spilling its aroma into the morning air. The customers who arrive with a rumbling stomach go back wanting to come back once again. Their insatiable hunger is quenched with his unmatchable culinary expertise. Their morning dullness is diminished by his genuine smile, which is a distinct curve in his aged face where wrinkles run from everywhere to everywhere.

Yes, he is the wolf of Kamarajar street. And his name is Jambulingam.

The pocket size dictionary that lies on my writing table defines ‘Wolf’ as ‘predatory, rapacious and fierce’. But then, Mr. Jambulingam is a good human being. How come I can use these negative traits to define such an amiable personality? Well, Jambulingam is predatory in his endeavours; hunts his customers with his cooking panache. He is rapacious in bettering himself in serving better. And he is fierce in inspiring loyalty in his customers. (If you find the justification fine, continue reading. If you don’t, it is okay, you can still continue)

It was a fine morning. It had rained the previous night. I stepped onto the footpath, on which were scattered puddles of different shapes and sizes, and paced my way forward. The food cart was already engulfed by multiple barricades of hungry customers. I managed to pierce them to have a look at what the day’s specials were. There is variety everyday. The Wolf knows that it is this variety that keeps the customers happy.

Hot dosas coming to life on the sweltering pan, warm idlies neatly arranged in a large hotbox, and oily puris that shined in the glint of the morning sun; along with their respective side dishes arranged on the other side of the cart. The Wolf zealously took my order.

He skilfully manoeuvred  the ‘dosa-flour’ filled ladle over the pan, and the dosa hissed. He then picked up an egg from one of the trays, broke it into half and let the slimy yolk land on the centre of the dosa. Spread it all around with the ladle. (The Wolf doesn’t inject his fingers into others’ food. That would be against the laws of hygiene, and he doesn’t like that)

He then served me the dish with fresh dollops of steaming chutney and sambar. I experienced heaven.

One fine night, I asked the Wolf if he has a family. He smiled and shook a no.

‘Don’t you get bored then?’ I said.

‘My customers are my family.’ He said.

‘When did you start cooking?’ I asked.

‘At the age of 12.’ He said. ‘Back then, I cooked to fill my stomach. Now I cook to fill others’.’

Many days later, one morning, I found the Wolf missing. The rickety cart was there, the seducing aroma was there, and the hungry customers were there. But it was a young boy who stood in the Wolf’s place.

I asked him that night, ‘Where is the old man who used to be here?’

‘My dad.’ The young lad said. ‘He died.’

‘Your dad? He said he didn’t have a family?’ I said, already shell-shocked with the tragic news.

‘I was an orphan. None cared for me. He found me begging on the streets. He took me to his home. Took care of me and taught me to cook. He said glory lies not in begging from others, but in serving them.’

I patted the boy’s head and placed my usual order. Before me stood a replica of the Wolf. The same smile, the same style, and the same aura. He handed me the plate with the dish sizzling in it. I experienced heaven, yet again.

For men may come and men may go, but the Wolf goes on forever. 

When someone says you can’t do something

Image Credits : http://behappy.me/

Image Credits : http://behappy.me/

When someone says you can’t do something, chances are more that they themselves can’t do it, and chances are pretty negligible that you yourself can’t. 

When someone says you can’t do something, it means the power of your grit and will is put to test.

When someone says you can’t do something, it is time to rejoice; for only those who stand up to their passions face instant criticism and rebuke.

When someone says you can’t do something, it means you are rising above mediocre. Because the average don’t dare, and hence are never discouraged.

When someone says you can’t do something, it is nothing but a reminder to not to listen to someone who says you can’t do something.

When someone says you can’t do something, it is time to become firmer in what you believe.

When someone says you can’t do something, it is time to understand that you are on the same path tread by heroes.

When someone says you can’t do something, it is mostly because they have not seen anyone do the same and succeed.

When someone says you can’t do something, don’t believe them. Because if you do, you would be in the same category as them.

When someone says you can’t do something, do it. And do it so well that never ever would anyone even dare to say the same to you again. 

 

Why sometimes it is Good to be Deaf

A couple of days ago I was listening to a business tape. The speaker narrated this story. It touched me. 

Two brothers, one 12 years old and the other 7, were ice-skating on a frozen lake. The duo were having the time of their lives. Chasing, slipping and sliding, and hurling handful of snowballs at each other. Then all of a sudden, a small area of the ice cracked in, forming a wide gap. The elder brother slithered through the split in the frozen surface, and plunged into the ice-cold water beneath. He was drowning.

The younger brother was appalled. He had no idea of what to do. For a few seconds, his brains went numb with shock. He looked hither and thither in search of someone who could possibly pull out his brother to safety. But there was none around.

Time was pacing. The elder brother was battling against the spine-breaking cold of the icy waters. He had no option but to call out to his little brother for help.

The little kid realized the futility of waiting for help to come. He skated till the edge of the lake, ran over the ice and towards a tree. He struggled, climbed the tree, reached out to a branch and broke it. He picked up the broken branch and rushed back to his brother. And with its help, managed to tug his brother onto the surface.

The elder brother was all wet and gasped for breaths. His teeth chattered with the iciness. Within no time, the townsfolk arrived just to check what the commotion was all about. They saw the two brothers. Enquired what had happened. When the kids narrated the incident, the people themselves were amazed.

One of them asked the younger boy, ‘You are so small. How could you manage to pull out your elder brother?’

The boy didn’t know what to say. He just blinked. He himself had no idea about it.

The entire group chattered in wonder. Right then, a wise old man sliced through to the front. He placed both his heavy arms on the younger brother’s tender shoulders. Looked straight into his eyes. And smiled.

‘You know why you were able to rescue your brother?’ He asked.

The young kid stayed silent. Blinked his eyes once.

‘Because’, the old man paused, ‘when you were climbing the tree, there was nobody around to tell you that you can’t do it.’

Sometimes it is good to be deaf. Deaf to the negativity of the outside world. Deaf to the discouragement offered by losers. And deaf to the very idea that what you are doing is impossible to complete. 

The 7 Golden Rules of Blogging

One of my favourite bloggers at present. And one of his best posts of all time.

Cristian Mihai

It’s Blogging Week here at Cristian Mihai blog (yeah, I don’t have a fancy name for my blog). We’ll talk about blogging, different tools that make blogging easier, and other stuff. The other stuff is mostly related to some of the do’s and don’t of blogging, what works and what doesn’t.

Everything you’re about to read is common sense. So, please, don’t expect some 3 step tutorial to gaining a billion followers.

And now for today’s post. 7 Golden Rules of Blogging.

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Why blame game is a bad game

The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others. – Don Shula, Football Coach

One of the cheapest human qualities is to blame others. And one of the most tragic human weaknesses is the inability to take the blame. 

Almost all of the endeavours of today comprise of teams. You take sport, entertainment, politics, business enterprises, publishing, IT etc.; all of these demand complete dedication and contribution from each and every single person in the team. And irrespective of the efforts put in by a team or an individual, failures happen.

What is important is to ensure these failures don’t become lethal pitfalls on our career paths. And that will be possible only when the quality of taking the blame is imbibed by our veins.

The world does not consist of all leaders. It is the mediocre and narrow minded thinkers who carve out the major chunk of mankind. So when something wrong crops up, most of the people around will get down to the finger-pinpointing business. Only a handful would be willing to take the blame.

Taking the blame is just the beginning. Once that is done, the immediate repercussions at times may not be sweet. Instead of acknowledging your courage to step forward and take responsibility, most people around begin their useless rounds of reprimands. Instead of focusing on what is to be done, they become more interested in lamenting and giving tons and tons of advices which they themselves may have never followed in their lives. (If they had, most of the failures wouldn’t happen in the first place) Such people tend to become bossy. Very soon they begin to act as if they are a unique kind of individuals having descended from heaven, who know all the right things and haven’t committed a single mistake in their entire lives.

And very soon, they vanish.

In the long run, only those who have the nerves to step forward to take responsibility stay, both in the minds of people and in the testimonials of mankind. The rest depart. They will be forgotten. The world is meant only for the gutsy. Not for the gutless and the weak.

Fleeing from responsibility is the habit of the timid, whereas embracing it is an attribute of the intrepid. 

Do

Skill to do comes of doing – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet

We have dreams. And we want to achieve them. We have our own ambitions which we are proud of. We all want to make a distinct mark of ourselves in this ever-expanding groove of human race. We want to be recognised. We want to be touched by victory and admired by people.

The mere thought of fulfilling our dreams fills us with immense enthusiasm. The very idea of plunging into the process of working for our dreams excites us to gigantic levels.

We visualise, we contemplate; of ourselves standing tall on the podium of life, gazing into the distant past, and being happy that we had worked hard to avoid regrets.

We make plans to accomplish what we had dreamt of. We take numerous resolutions to stay disciplined and stick to the basic rules for success. We get inspired seeing someone from our own field win.

Most of us are sticklers to all these. But then, why is it that only a handful of us make it big?  Why is it that only a few of us manage to conquer the negatives and sail towards the radiant shores of success? Why is that most of us remain the same, just lingering between the slimy threads of mediocrity?

The reason is, when the mediocre keep thinking of ‘what’ is to be done and ‘if’ it has to be done, the winning lot actually DO it.

They DO things.

Want to chase your dreams? DO it. And DO it right now.

 

 

 

Why we remember Nelson Mandela

I was watching the movie ‘The Bucket List’ (starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) yesterday. My little brother, who knows Morgan Freeman only from his TV show, ‘Into the Wormhole’, came and sat beside. He looked at Morgan Freeman and said, ‘He looks like Nelson Mandela.’

I smiled.

And today morning, while I was still in bed, he came and broke out  the news.

I didn’t smile this time.

The reason was obvious. When inspiring individuals breathe their last, we feel bad. We try to remember what all they had done and accomplished, and why they were revered the world over.

Inspiring individuals actually never die. They create something so incredible, that even death fails in erasing them from the memories of people. They only become physically absent, for their endeavours will remain eternal.

Fight against Apartheid

Apartheid was a form of inhumane discrimination which was followed in South Africa. In the native language, ‘apartheid’ means ‘separateness’. The people were separated on the basis of their colour, and the Whites enjoyed more freedom than the coloured; freedom from discrimination, suffering and punishments.

The Blacks were deprived of their citizenship. The quality of life the Blacks received from the government was very well lower than that of the Whites. There were separate schools, hospitals and shops for the Blacks. Even the public transport system operated separately for the Blacks.

The cruelest thing about this discrimination was the difference in laws. For the same kind of crime, the Blacks were heavily penalized while the Whites were allowed to walk free or were lightly reprimanded.

The Blacks and the coloured could take it no more. They began their protests against apartheid in the form of passive resistance (similar to Civil Disobedience in the Indian Independence Movement), courageously led by Nelson Mandela. ‘Passes’ were issued to all the Blacks forbidding them from leaving their own districts without them. In one such incident of passive resistance, Mandela burnt his own pass in the broad view of the public.

Mandela’s commitment towards politics and the fight against apartheid strengthened when apartheid became a system of governance in 1948. With the help of his party, ANC (African National Congress, which he had joined in 1944), he sought to fight racial discrimination through civil disobedience and non violent methods. He believed that the path of non-violence laid by Mahatma Gandhi to fight injustice, was not just proper, but also pragmatic and sensible.

Mandela chose to change his ways and follow violent forms of protest when the Sharpeville massacre materialized in 1960, killing around 70 peaceful black protestors. Riots and anger swept the country and the ANC was banned by the apartheid government.

A sabotage campaign and armed resistance movement were launched against the apartheid government, under Mandela’s leadership.

Imprisonment

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela, along with other supporters was charged for treason, sabotage and violent conspiracy against the government, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

 He had spent about 3 decades of his life in imprisonment. The prisons he had been into showed similar, and in some cases worse forms of discrimination he had faced outside. He was forced to do hard labour in the quarries; and being a black earned him low wages and disrespectful treatment.

In his prison years, Mandela served as a mentor to his fellow prisoners. He encouraged them to seek better treatment through peaceful means and non violent methods.

It was in his prison years when he had drafted his autobiography, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ which was published five years post his release.

As the first Black President of South Africa

Nelson Mandela established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which sought to investigate the injustices and unfair treatments faced by the Blacks during the apartheid years. He started various social and economic programs to improve the living standards of the black population; and worked towards improving relations between races and discouraged the blacks from making violent protests or retaliating against the white minorities.

Mandela retired from politics in 1999, after his first term as the President.

He had been one of the many inspiring individuals all over the globe who saw sense in the teachings and practices of Mahatma Gandhi.

“I could never reach the standard of morality, simplicity and love for the poor set by the Mahatma…While Gandhi was a human without weaknesses, I am a man of many weaknesses.”

Mandela was  awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1990 (the only second non-Indian to get the award), the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, the International Gandhi Peace Prize in 2001 for his exemplary work for promotion of peace and non-violence, and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002, amongst over 250 other honours.

Some of them were frightened. Some of them were angered. Some of them were pained. But all of them were equally discriminated. All of them were devoid of freedom and the right to live free was snatched from them. Apartheid appeared like an inexorable journey into the trenches of darkness.

Nelson Mandela was prepared to give all of them hope. He led them. He chose to break free from the shackles of racial inequalities.

 And he did.