Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Stranger

Dear readers,  in my last blog post I had asked you to stay tuned ... So here you go.... 

The post "Who Won" , talks about restoration of trust in humanity. In this blog post, I will describe an incident which I personally experienced. Whenever I become too cynical and  distrustful about any person or a situation or life in general, I try to recall this real life story . It gives me hope.

The first experience goes way back , about 18 - 19 years ago  when I had to visit Cyprus for a very difficult assignment.  My return itinerary had a flight change at Dubai. I was travelling alone. The inward flight from Nicosia, Cyprus was late by 4 hours due to bad weather. The next flight was on the next day, early morning.  

This disruption was not too unwelcome from me. I am a travel bug and I saw this as an opportunity to see the Dubai city. And this was like a Godsend opportunity for me to buy some dresses and toys for my 5 year old daughter. Due to work pressure and a bit due to lack of planning, I could not buy gifts for her from Cyprus.

By the time I got a one day transit visa made at the airport, checked in at the hotel booked by the Airlines, it was already 6 pm in the evening.I did not know  anything about Dubai , where to go, how to go ! Understand that there were no Google maps or Ubers or such prolific internet facility at that time

I inquired at the lobby helpdesk but could not understand anything due to the heavy Arabic accent.  All the signage were mostly Arabic. I could hardly see any females on the streets. I did not want to go alone in a taxi as I did not know the place or the markets or anyone there. 

I sat down on a Sofa, feeling disappointed. Suddenly, a bearded young man came and greeted me "Salaam Alekum !" 

"Hullo" I said. 

"You want to go to a market to buy toys ? There is a huge market quite nearby where you will get fantastic electronic games . I heard you inquire about it at the reception "

"Err.. yes.. but ... " I faltered.

"I am also going that way, if you want we can go together and come back together"

Maybe because I was too distressed by visualizing my daughter's disappointed face, I jumped at the proposition.   

If I look back now, I shiver. 

An unknown place which has very strict laws, I am alone, I do not know the language. I do not have a cell phone, I have very little money on me and a stranger proposes to me about accompanying him to the market which I do not not know is real or fictitious and I accompany him happily

I did not even know his name and till date I do not know it ! 

As we sat in the taxi , he said he was from Pakistan ! That made me very uneasy. But the damage was already done.As I sat stiffly without uttering a word, my friend (??!!) asked the taxi to stop infront of a well lit mall. The market was really a paradise for electronic toys. I went about browsing the toys, asking the price , checking what best I can fit into my budget and he too did the same. Finally I bought the toys and also a very cute frilly pink frock (My daughter still remembers the dress ) . 

With my hand full of bags, I was contemplating whether to return to the hotel alone or not, suddenly I saw the person running towards me . 

"Oh ! Sorry ! I was buying some chocolates and you had disappeared . I got worried.  It is quite late , let us have dinner and return to the hotel"

Some sense had come back to me . 

"No.. I don't want any dinner . I will manage alone. You carry on ... "

 He contemplated for a while. I stood still. I had bought a small pocket knife by then.

"Ok ... lets go then ..." and he hailed a taxi. 

I sat stiffly beside him, holding the small knife tightly in my palm.  I was tense. I prayed. 

It seemed like eternity but finally we reached the hotel. I was sweating in trepidation by then. 

He helped me with my packets till I reached the elevator . As the door closed, he smiled and said "Bye ! Good Luck !

That was the last time I saw the gentleman. 

I do not know his name. I do not know his address , contact number or email. 


I could not say "Thank you " to him, ever. 

The world does have good people. 

Let us not put narrow walls around us based on religion, nationality, race , colour, sex or appearance. Yes, we have to be careful since there are wolves around us  too.  But let us not lose trust. 

Let us not lose hope ....

Cheers !
  

Friday, 12 May 2017

Who Won ?

When I was in class 6th, there was a short story prescribed in our Hindi literature book.  It was written by a famous author named Sudarshan. The name of the story was "Haar Ki Jeet " (हार की जीत) I don't know how to translate this in 3 words in English, but the essence of the story title is "The winning of the loser". 

The storyline goes like this ... Once upon a time there was a hermit named Baba  Bharti. He had a very beautiful white horse named Sultan. Baba Bharti loved Sultan very dearly and he used to say that he will never be able to live without Sultan.  His day started with a  ride on his favourite Sultan and it ended by feeding and caring for the horse.  In that village lived a dacoit named Kharag Singh. He had heard about Baba Bharti and his Sultan from many people and one day he went to the temple to meet the hermit.  

"I have heard a lot about Sultan. Can I see him once ? " Kharag Singh pleaded. 

Baba Bharti was very pleased and he proudly took Kharag Singh to the stable to show him his prized possession. Kharag Singh was amazed. He had never ever seen such a beautiful horse. He thought that this horse should be with him rather than with Baba Bharti. After all Baba was a hermit. Why would he need such a horse ?

While leaving, Kharag Singh looked at Baba Bharti and said " Baba ! I will not let this horse stay with you !" , and went away. 

Baba Bharti was scared. He lost his sleep.  He would wake up with a start at midnight, go to the stable a check on Sultan. 

But months passed by and Kharag Singh did not return. Baba Bharti became relaxed and thought that Kharag Singh had just jested with him. 

One evening, Baba Bharti was riding on Sultan. Suddenly, he saw an invalid man , walking with a limp coming towards him.  He was stooping and his white , unkempt beard made him look very old. 

"Baba ... I have to go to the next village which is 3 miles away . I legs are paining and I cannot walk. Please let me sit on your horse and take me till the end of this village ... I will remain ever grateful to you ... God will bless you , my son !" 

Baba Bharti was very kind. He stepped down, helped the  crippled person on the horse and he held the reins and started walking slowly. 

Suddenly, Baba Bharti felt a jolt.  The cripple was sitting straight on Sultan and laughing. The reins of the horse was in his hands.  He was dacoit Kharag Singh ! He pulled at the reins and started riding away . 

"Wait ... !" baba Bharti shouted. Kharag Singh stopped. 

"Tell me Baba ! I will do whatever you tell me to do. But I will not v return Sultan to you " 

Baba Bharti looked at Kharag Singh and said softly . 

"I will not talk about the horse. But I have one request ... " 

"Tell me , O hermit ! I will obey "

"Kharag Singh, I request you not to tell about this incident - how you took away Sultan from me, to anybody ... "

Kharag Singh was very intrigued and surprised.  He had never imagined that Baba Bharti will have such a request.  He tried to comprehend , but could not think of any logical reason... so he asked

"Baba, why such a strange request ? What purpose will it serve for you ? "

Baba Bharti looked straight at his eyes 

"My son... If you tell about this incident, no one will ever help a person in need ... they will never trust the weaker person ... "  

After saying this, Baba Bharti slowly went away . He did not look back at Sultan even once. 

Baba Bharti went away , but his words kept on echoing in Kharag Singh's ears. He was filled with remorse.  At the dead of the night, Kharag Singh sneaked into the temple with Sultan .  The stable doors were wide open ... Baba Bharti did not care to close them ... 

Kharag Singh slowly tied Sultan.  He had tears in his eyes. Tears of repentance and guilt.  A few drops fell on the ground. Kharag Singh closed the stable doors slowly and went away. 

The next day Baba Bharti got up a dawn and habitually walked towards the stable . Suddenly he realized that Sultan is not in the stable anymore. He stopped short and with a heavy heart started walking away.  Sultan recognized his master's footsteps and started whinnying. 

Baba Bharti could not believe his ears. he ran towards the stable and saw Sultan... Baba was overjoyed !

He embraced Sultan and started crying.  "My Sultan is back ... Now no one will distrust the poor and the handicapped ... "

Baba Bharti's tears fell on the ground ... at the same place where Kharag Singh's tears had fallen...  

Reader, you must be wondering why I have recounted this story ... well there is a reason ... Read my next post ..

Stay Tuned ....