“Chai, chai.” I woke to the sounds that normally wake one up in a train. The shuffling feet, the rustling of the newspaper pages and the tea vendor’s call that seems to match the chugh, chugh of the train. The only difference was that the tea vendor’s call I heard this time was highly cheerful. He extolled the goodness of his chai. Best quality tea, unadulterated milk, etc….”Besides, you can choose between regular tea and masala tea, the latter only from me”, he said affably. He cajoled a senior citizen into drinking his masala tea when he didn’t want any. And he talked conspiratorially to a youth who was sitting with a woebegone expression.
I was intrigued, wondering though if it was just the sales ploy of an enterprising young man. I just had to ask him his name and the words just poured out.
“Arjun... After the character in the Mahabharata,” he smiles. “I was not always this cheerful. And I too had followed unscrupulous ways in my means of livelihood. All that changed when I lost my son when he was eleven years old.” His face clouds over. “Not so long ago…..” It strikes a chord. “That’s when I started wondering what the meaning of life is. My son was a cheerful boy. Many people said so when he passed away. So, I decided to spread some cheer in any small way I could. And I decided that I would use only fair means to earn. It is fine for those going for a wedding or for a vacation. But you do come across people who are going for a funeral or someone who has lost a job and so on. You’ll be able to make out a sad face. I try to cheer them up. I sell tea in the overnight long distance trains. Everyone finds a morning cup of tea very refreshing. And if I add some cheer to that cup, it will brighten up their day. Don’t you think?” he asked me. I nodded in agreement.
“I am sure it does. I know. I speak from experience”, he smiled before waving his hand and continuing with his call of ‘chai, chai’.
His words brought to mind, the verse of Emily Dickinson:
If I can ease one life the aching
Or cool one pain……
I shall not live I vain
Diwali, the festival of lights, is all about spreading cheer, says Upamanyu Raju, Founder, Tiger Protection Group, as he suggests some nice ways in which you could be involved with their tiger projects
Straddling a job in the skies and a mission on the ground, Captain Indraani Singh demonstrates how one person can be the change through spreading education, empowerment and employment among those who need it the most. Partho Burman reports
A group of first generation graduates are mentoring rural school students, who are also first generation learners in Tamil Nadu, by imparting life skills and building their confidence, through an NGO, Vazhai. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the mentors
As summer sets in and the quest to find a salubrious getaway begins, if it is the well known beaten names that cross your mind, Renuka Singh suggests seven quiet and offbeat hill stations that are not too far from places that you might know
When Rajesh Kumar Sharma went to see how Metro Rail work was progressing near the Yamuna station, he realized that poor children had no school to attend. So he set up ‘Under the Bridge School’. Partho Burman meets the educator extraordinaire
Inspired by a man making sandals out of used tyres in the US, Jay Rege and Jothsna came to India to turn eco-conscious shoemakers, launching ‘Paaduks’. The social entrepreneurs also share their profit with their cobblers, says Rohan Potdar
If the word Goa evokes just images of raves, read on, you may end up in the land of sandy wonders soon. For, Renuka Singh’s list of the top 10 beaches informs us that Goa has something on offer for everyone, including those seeking solitude
Her first attempt to save a 12-year-old girl from the clutches of an abusive father failed. But that propelled Renu Singh to turn a crusader for gender justice and rescue about 3,800 girls and women in over three decades, says Partho Burman
The success of Milky Mist, a dairy company, is a story linked to the big dreams of T Sathish Kumar, a class 8 drop out. P C Vinoj Kumar tells us how a 16-year-old turned his father’s floundering business around by giving it a new identity
Winner of many awards for his social work in Mumbai slums, Jockin Arputham missed the Nobel Peace in 2014. But for people whose life he changed through his dedication, he is indeed an ‘arputham’ (miracle, in Tamil), says Kavita Kanan Chandra
Whatever job he was in, S M Venkatesh saved abandoned people from the streets. Now, his Agal Foundation works with Helpage India, responding to distress calls, quickly and efficiently, as P C Vinoj Kumar found through a snap sting operation