Did I graduate ?
I remember during my 4th grade, painter who came to my home called me. Being a curious kid, I went never him. He asked me what is electricity. It intrigues me even now when I realized that he tried teaching a 4th grader the importance of electrons. There started my tryst for learning with people with whom we rarely seek knowledge. Here goes the answer to the question. Where have I learnt the most when I had expected the least ?
A Cab driver in Delhi taught me how and why CP in Delhi is designed in concentric circles. After a delay of 10 + years, I finally understood concentric circles. A cab driver in Chennai whose twin sons studied in IIT Madras. Wasnt it a surprise ? To add to it, They got themselves selected to Google in their campus placements. Interestingly, He still drives at 2 AM because he just wants to do his work. I realized my father would have retired if I had done such a wonderful deed in my life. (Humble)
My previous maid calls me up every 2 weeks to check whether I am doing good. I left Chennai 5 months back but she still hasnt forgotten me. I awkwardly wait for the call to end due to lack of topics to engage her. I question all the laws in the world to understand what on earth makes her remember me.
Another interesting character is the woman who served food in my neighbourhood. She questioned her culinary skills whenever I dont visit her stall for a couple of days. I wish I had the courage to tell her I am bored of her Idlis and Dosas. Deep down, I know I will be screwed with emotions if I do so.
Class Kid’s father who ran to school when he realized that I was back from Delhi. I had never seen such enthusiasm even with my friends. Probably a sign for me to change friends I guess.
Class kid’s mother lost her husband during her prime youth. Yet, She remains cheerful and brought coffee for me every single day. Still, all the Galelio’s, Einstein’s, Newton’s dont help me fathom why she had to do it every day. Nesamony uncle cooked food and gave accommodation to struggling children in streets during Chennai floods. He was a 70 year old retired man whose children were in US. He never thought about the enormous strain it brought on him financially, physically mentally and emotionally. (Strength of a character)
The cab driver who got 200 rupees for a 300 rupee ride when I took few kids in my class for a trip. I remember my friend’s mother who used to haggle with a poor vegetable vendor for 10 rupees regularly.
Co-Teacher who brought biryani and fruits when she realized that I got sick. I got myself sick enough number of times to ensure she ran out of both.
Kids who stayed with me till I left the premises of the school. This meant that they were delayed by atleast 3 hours to go home. More importantly, this meant them missing their most loved Big Boss Highlights. But, Do these guys care really ?
I have come to realize that my learnings about life wasnt only from all the classrooms, lectures, projects I was part of etc.. But, It came from simple people who were severely constrained in their lives. Yet, They chose to be selfless, humble, generous and hopeful in their lives. Off late, I have started appreciating Sudha Murthy’s writing on such people. She runs Infosys foundation and her writing uncovers the beauty in their simple lives.
My attention for such people never go beyond few minutes in a day. Yet, such people teach me more important lessons for my benefit. I can choose to learn if I wish to or choose to ignore. I am happy to accept that I havent yet graduated despite being a graduate. This is a life long learning which goes on every single day and makes me aware of my privilege in life.