Thursday, 30 May 2013

Paying It Forward.. A Story of Immense Compassion.

For, it has a potential to go viral..

The programs conducted on the campus of Initiatives of Change, at Panchgani, Maharashtra, India, are often described as ‘life changing’ ones by the participants. And through these programs, sometimes, come out stories that could inspire humanity…

Here is one such story, stranger than the fiction, narrated by Capt. Suri, a senior pilot and an official of Air India, a participant of the program, ‘Making a Difference, Together’,  specially designed for the very senior officers of Air India.
Captain Suri, an important member of the rescue team of the Kandahar highjack victims in the last week of Dec, 2000, narrates his story to Bhisham Mansukhani, a journalist and member of the IofC (Initiatives of Change) facilitation team. Bhisham describes it as a fascinating real life account of ‘Paying It Forward’

Capt Suri narrates,

Capt. S P S Suri
“This happened in 1979. I was attending a college in Delhi, and visiting Dehradun every week end, where I grew up. I would take the Sunday night bus to return to Delhi. In the wee hours of that fateful Monday morning, at 4 am, I rode my motorcycle home from the bus station as usual. However, as fate would have it, I fell asleep on the bike. I was told; I collided with a cyclist at high speed, and hit my face to the ground. My face was crushed. I would forever remain indebted to that unknown Sikh who braved the very unfriendly police laws then, and brought me to the hospital (All India Inst of Medical Sciences, AIMS for short) doors. Understandably, he left the scene to avoid police harassment, depriving me of expressing my gratitude ever. 

The story took yet another queer turn. The doctor on duty was shocked to see my crushed bleeding face. He couldn’t detect a pulse on me, and after examining me thoroughly he pronounced me dead! He wrote on the public discharge slip that I had expired due to brain hemorrhage and excessive bleeding. He then sent my body for a postmortem to the mortuary.

Fortunately for me, the mortuary was overcrowded due to which the supervisor on duty placed my body outside the room with other cadavers. At around 7.30 in the morning, the sweeper on shift duty saw my leg moving. He got the fright of his life and immediately informed the authorities.

In the meanwhile, my mother had already been informed of my so called demise. My sister was grieving, but my mother simply refused to believe I was dead. On reaching Delhi, instead of going to my grandparent’s house, they reached straight to the hospital, only to receive a very pleasant shock.

 However, my face had to be entirely restructured. I had to undergo comprehensive plastic surgery and it took me nearly 18 months to recover.

 I reminisce, how strange are the ways of life! One would expect learning lessons from the episodes such as what I went through, but, to be honest, I didn't in any way become more cautious than I had been before the accident. Three years later I became a pilot!”


“I moved to Mumbai in 1983 when I was posted a probationary pilot for the Indian Airlines in the city. A few months into my job, and another incident of road accident would take place involving me that would change my outlook about life forever!

 I was traveling by bus to South Mumbai to visit the doctor to show him x-rays of my facial bones which had, by then, largely recovered. I had tucked the x-ray into my shirt. As the bus was passing through Juhu, it slowed down near a truck standing halted by the side if the road. To my utter shock, I saw a young school boy getting crushed between a stationary truck and the bus in which I was seated. The bus slowed down and moved to the left at the bus stop leaving very little gap with the standing truck. The school children were rushing to get into our bus when this boy came in between the truck and the bus.

 I do not know what got possessed of me. Instantaneously I got off the bus, lifted the boy in my arms as the blood from his head wound bled on to my shirt and x-ray. I was surprised as to why no one else would help. Perhaps the unfriendly police laws about accident which had made my savior to drop me at the hospital portals and run away! Most shockingly, even the bus, which was a culprit, sped off on its course as though nothing had happened.  However, one decent young motorcyclist came forward to help. A Sikh taxi driver agreed to take us to the nearby hospital but advised us to leave the boy at the hospital and immediately rush off.

But I was undeterred. I wanted the child to get an immediate medical attention. The doctor on duty refused to attend to the unconscious bleeding child until the police arrived. I looked him in his eyes, held him by his throat, gave him my ID and literally ordered him to save the boy. The doctors gave in and did the decent thing. The boy survived. In some ways I felt extremely good. I felt, the thought of my own accident, and that unknown Sikh gave me the strength and courage to act the way I did. My status of being a pilot worked on the doctors, and perhaps the police later. But, I thought I was paying it forward!

The history repeated with the parents of the boy too. His school friends reached his home and told the parents that the boy had died. The young motorcyclist had found their address from the boy's school bag and had rushed to let them know that the boy was being treated. He brought back the smile on the grieving Kamat family.

 In the mean while, once I knew the boy would be fine, I left the hospital, pleasantly surprised to find the taxi driver waiting for me. I offered his money to wash his blood smeared seats. He refused to take the money. He drove me home and again refused the taxi fare I offered him. I only met the boy's parents four years later. The meeting was emotional and I was touched by their gratefulness. I have grown to know the boy and his parents ever since. Well, each Diwali they send me gifts.

 The boy, Ankit Kamat, around 40 now, went on to study in Baltimore, USA, and is now settled in the US. It’s been 28 years since the incident. I might never find out the identity of the Sikh gentleman who saved my life, but I believe he would have been happy to find out that it was his deed of astonishing kindness that indirectly saved a young boy's life six years later. The sweeper and the taxi driver also played their crucial roles. This was a true triumph for humanity. It will always be the most remarkable story of my life. I will never wonder about whether Ankit will someday pay it forward. I simply believe he will.”

Hope this story would have touched a chord in your hearts. If so, please express your feelings in the comments column below here. Please share if and when you have paid anything forward...

And, pass this story on to your circle of influence if you believe the story can induce compassion in others.

D I L I P  P A T E L

Team India I Care

PS: If at all this write up reaches Ankit Kamat, we will be happy to hear a word from him in the comments section of this post.



Tuesday, 28 May 2013

QT 18

On focusing on larger issues..

It is for a while that I posted an issue for an on line Quiet Time. Here is one this week.

Please Think it over, Try it, and if it makes sense, Do write a comment or two.

for IIC Team

Sunday, 12 May 2013

IIC(India I Care) Day

Aswini Mohapatra, one of our staunch IIC exponents from Hyderabad has sent the following write up giving clarity about IIC Day, every Friday. I hope this will give guidance to all our associates and readers of this blog to make their positive contribution to the rebuilding of the Character Bank of India.

Aswini writes--

India i Care - Day:

We celebrate every Friday as IIC-Day;

What is IIC-Day: 

It's day a to re-visit our promises/conviction/decision to contribute towards swelling the Character Bank of India. Though everyday we have to keep acting for the betterment of the country, it is good to reinforce those understanding that has come across as a learning to us.

What to do: 

Your simple act of caring for your-self, your-family and your-society/surrounding is suggested. It could be as simple as just reading through your convictions, already captured, or updating that list of 'to do' activities of yours with one more good initiative of yours. That act must benefit you, without harming any one else. 

How does it help: 

Your act of doing good (or act of goodness), creates/spreads positive energy around you and you become part of the solution and not the problem. 

What people are doing: 

Many of us who are connected with IIC, are contributing towards Character bank of India, through our actions, in our day-to-day life; for reference some of the activities are-
- Carrying cloth bags while going out to market, so as not to get a plastic bag 
- Using bicycle for commutation 
- Not littering on road 
- Once in a week, not using lift of the apartment 
- Not honking unnecessarily while driving 
- Cleaning own bathroom every Friday 
- Being conscious about spending money 
- Participating in social activities like awareness campaigning, community tree plantation, cleanliness drive, old cloth collection drive, etc... 
- Not shouting on anybody 
- Spreading awareness message of IIC-Day 
- Re-visiting time spent on professional, personal and social life 
- .... 

And lot more... you too can share on what you are doing (as a comment at the bottom of this post) and your actions can be included here or as articles on this website to inspire others across the globe. 

You can also form a team of people in your locality and get in touch with us to facilitate the process at your place, in your city. 

Thanks Aswini for compiling the list as above, and explaining in simple terms all about IIC Day.

 We are also coming out shortly with structured programs for Schools and colleges to expand the reach of IIC movement.

Dilip Patel

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

'She' Changed My Life..

An inspiring story of change triggered  by an unknown, insignificant person under unusual circumstances.

Nipon Hajong, a State Civil Service officer from Meghalaya, an Indian state from the north eastern part of the country, narrates his story of recovery from depression. He was at Asia Plateau, the International training campus of Initiatives of Change, at Panchgani, India along with his other 27 colleagues last week for a 5-day workshop on Effective Services and Governance.

Here is Nipon in his own words:

Nipon Hajong

“Loving regards to all at IofC, Panchgani.

Friends, falling in love is not a choice for all. For a guy like me, it was a destiny. Just like the way you felt for someone for the first time, so sweet, so pure, and so innocent.

 Lost love, and love lost(for life).

But the same sweet and innocent love takes many of us onto a path of no return. I for one got a new life, albeit not without a heavy toll!

I was ditched by the girl I was in love with since my school days.

I was shattered, and attempted to commit suicide in September 2004. I slipped into depression.

Drinking was a ritual indulgence, however, now I would do it, every evening, not for the love of it, or for the sake of enjoyment, rather to escape from the silent pain buried in my heart, and I would pretend to be happy. The depression was killing me from within, each day, every moment of my life. I was just alive, not living.

I pretended to be strong as I would listen to my friends, and anybody else around. I would pretend to be happy, and even sing along with them after drinking. Alcohol became almost a habit. I would drink alone whenever I could not bear the pangs of loneliness, and drink in groups night after night. But the vacuum of loneliness was never being filled. In fact it was growing deeper and wider. Deep inside I was crying, screaming for someone to hear and understand me, but I could never speak out aloud. The tears of my heart would flow silently without releasing a drop from my eyes.

I started growing very lonely even in the midst of my supportive friends. I could never hear what I wanted to, nor could I speak what I wanted to. In that growing loneliness I saw no hope, no meaning of life without her. I was dying a silent but steady death. I could share nothing with anybody. I had lost all the courage.

I drank to get drunk and sleep, to forget .her, to try to find new life and strength to move ahead. It was the darkest period of my life. The only questions echoing in my head were, 'What is my life without her? Why it had to happen with me? What wrongs did I do to her?’ But no answers.

I would go to college where I was teaching, and after every sunset sit down with anybody to drink. I was crying and screaming from inside that someone should understand me, and help me to rise again to be what I used to be earlier, a favorite student to all my teachers, the most loving son to my mother, wonderfully concerned sibling to my brothers and sisters, a dependable uncle, and a reliable guide to my friends.

 While I was battling within, I had deviated from being the disciplined and sincere person that I was. However, I would pray to God, either to take me away, or to find a way out of this hell.

And finally God heard my prayers.

It was in the month of July 2006. The monsoon was incessant. That evening six of us started drinking from 3.30 pm as it was a Sunday. We emptied three large bottles of whisky in no time. I remember we had made two more rounds to the liquor shop, drenched, that night. We needed some more, and the last round we made, again, at 3.30 am. The shop keeper refused to get up from his sleep. We had to return without any more drinks.

Since the rain had stopped, and it would be morning soon ( Sun rises early in NE India), one of my friends suggested that we proceed towards the super market at Tura to eat some puris from the mobile hawkers who set up their stalls for the very early arriving passengers from Guwahati and Shillong night buses. I simply followed them on my bike.

The lights were still dim and my friends were enjoying eating the Puri-Sabzi from a hawker as I saw one frail woman looking for my friend to shift his bike as she had to set up her little shop there. She looked old, with very little hair on her head. Her sari was dirty and faded.

As my friend obliged her, she thanked him profusely, and this remarkable act of her, a rare one I must say in this part of Meghalaya, touched my heart. I was drawn to her with curiosity. She set up her little shop out of a wooden box. As she arranged the cigarettes, Gutkas and paans etc, I watched if people buy from her insignificant shop. Noticing not many people stopping by her, I approached her with sympathy. She looked to be intimidated with my groggy eyes and drunken voice, but I allayed her suspicion by being more polite and sober in my tone. I inquired about her life- where did she live, about her family members, how much she earned etc, etc. 

Her face softened and she replied with a smile, ' son, I am alone. I lost my son a few years ago, and my husband had deserted me long before that. I sleep outside the hotel down there when it rains. Otherwise I sleep any where I find a shelter, including an open garage. I earn Rs 30 to 50 a day from this shop every morning. But when it rains, I cannot open my shop. I work as a cleaner woman in day time. I wash utensils, clean rice in godowns, and sweep the shops of some Mahajans, whatever petty job I find.'

A new beginning.

Friends, suddenly I woke up from my deep depression. It struck me deep inside- Here was a woman who did not have any body to depend on, no body to cry for her, to love her, and yet she lives on, withstanding the harsh, sometimes filthy words and scolding hurled on her by the people, uncertainty of work or earnings, and ever lurking threats of being chased away by police or other authorities! Her struggle has not deterred her from living! She was working with dignity, without resorting to vices, and never thought of committing suicide!

I further thought, I was young; I have the most loving mother in the World, the most concerned brothers and sisters, loving nephews and nieces, admiring teachers, and supportive friends in the world. Why can't I live on?

I immediately rode back home, and got ready for my day's lecture at the college. That day I spoke from my heart. It was altogether different from any other days. I kept pondering, and asking myself that I MUST LIVE. I had lost seven years trying to forget my ex girl friend. A hope was kindled by this woman whom I did not know. I got a new strength, my new life. 

My new vigor fetched me a Lecturer's job in the District Institute of Education and Training in 2007, and later in 2010 I got into the Meghalaya Civil Services. 

Currently I am serving the people of my state with pride and happiness.

I live life to the fullest. I do face challenges and struggles, but only towards my further improvement. I put my head, heart and hands to whatever assignment is given by my superiors.

And here, at IofC, Panchgani, at the beautiful Asia Plateau, I have further decided to make my life even more beautiful. I will never drink alcohol, and always be a support to whoever leans on me.

Thank you friends and May God bless you all for initiating the change in me."

Nipon Hajong
hajongnipon(at) gmail(dot)com

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