Now being published as a novel. Click the picture to find out more:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Goodness exists; more so in simple gestures

I am rushing to the airport in a cab after a long day filled with tiresome meetings. My companion is talking to me in between taking calls from his boss. My mind is wandering somewhere I dont remember. I am not sure if I have my travel documents on me but I am too fatigued to make sure. We arrive at the airport and are almost instantaneously in the flight cabin. I try to sleep but the crying baby one row ahead on the right is not helping much. My companion is coiled because of the super-chilled interior but is still fast asleep. I am shivering. I notice a couple of fellow travellers asking for a blanket; but I cant be bothered. I am in a zone and I dont like it here.

The flight has landed. In an effort to get out of the spaced-out mode, I spring into action and collect my bag before anybody could get up. Others follow me but all of us are put back into our seats because of a stern stewardess. Finally, we are allowed to get out. I am feeling a little light and surely I am missing something. I check my pockets and sure as hell, my car-keys are absconding. I stay back and check my seat, its bottom and underside; no luck. I come out wondering where I might have dropped them; no clue. My companion calls up the cab-driver; no response.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the port of embarkation, the cab is trudging along. The new passanger finds the car-key and hands it over to Amardeep. He is perplexed and starts making calls to the previous passangers. Some answer; some dont. None owned the key. He sleeps restlessly.

I wake up the next morning and go through another hectic day. In between, I find time to call up my car-agent. It will take two weeks and around 500USD to get a duplicate since it is a coded key. I dont understand what it means but accept it.

Meanwhile, Amardeep figures the car company name as well as the license number plate from the keys. He drives around 50kms to get to volkswagen showroom, tries to enquire but is shoo-ed away, albeit like an untouchable. He doesnt give up. He looks up the various show-rooms in yellow pages and drives another 25 kms to another showroom. The folks here know me because I had given them a tough time when my car air-conditioner wasnt working. They identify me but want Amardeep to hand-over the keys. Amardeep persists with the keys and finally manages to get my mobile-number from them.

I get a call from Amardeep. He is coming to pick me up when I get back and he is going to bring the car-key. I arrive back. I dont remember what he looks like. He is the anonymous and faceless guy one meets everyday on the street, in cabs, at restaurants, in the elevators and in bars. I am too afraid to ask him for his cab license-plate because I dont want to offend him lest he should think I dont remember him. I am roaming around outside the airport when a guy calls me over. I finally get to meet him. He is of medium height, slightly over-weight with a beard and a turban. He is ecstatic at meeting me; his little excitement for the past couple of days finally reaching its logical conclusion. He strikes a conversation as he drives me to my car and cant help unfolding his quest. I cant believe my luck.

The downside isnt much for me. Two weeks of struggling with public transport and 500USD. It is manageable.

The upside isnt much for Amardeep. Wasting time driving around on a wild-goose chase finding the owner of car-keys. I would not have done that.

But he did and without any expectation of any reward.

When you are faced with a dying man on the roadside, you have a choice to take him to hospital or feel guilty for the rest of your life. Hardly a choice.

When you find a car-key, you do have the choice to throw it away without the slightest guilt.

Goodness exists; more so in simple gestures.


Mahogany said...

Wow! Which city was this in?

Beta said...

Kuala Lumpur. Surprise,surprise.

Trishanku said...

I was very moved by Big B's logic to the college principal in "Black": Bhala karne ka mauka bar bar nahin milta...!

Indeed there are God fearing people who want to do it- to keep their balance of punya going. But there are equal number of people who want to do good- to feel good about themselves!

One of the theory says- a person in resource abundant state wants to share, care, love...unless faced with resource scarcity- time, money, opportunity etc.

Another theory has it that- in all evolved cultures the basic value system is around virtues- of doing good to greater masses. So no surprise that people want to be nice.

But, the selective perception of human mind makes us remember only the bad experiences we have seen.

It is important we not only do good, but praise good behaviour to make it more aspirational.

And hopefully then people will seek out and wont let go of "bhala karne ka mauka"!

ayu said...

you change the title? it was 'faceless goodness', no?

Beta said...

Ayu - That was how I described it on facebook. The title of the article continues to be the same :-)

ayu said...

ah, like that.. :) obviously i spend too much time on facebook :)