A retired district Judge: Aboard the flight from Amsterdam to Houston, this gentleman and his wife were my travel mates. I had the privilege of their inspiring company as they were seated adjacent to me. Their effervescence infected my spirit. Their enthusiasm perked mine. We shared a common bond of knowing about India; he of a time when the country flaunted its quaintness, me as a native, rooting for its current advancement and developed state. Seated at the window and middle seats, the elderly couple had to go past me each time Nature beckoned. It was when the Judge got up to walk towards the restroom that I realised he was facing trouble maintaining his balance. He would take a few short, rapid steps and halt for a few moments, align his torso and then proceed. This happened multiple times before he could reach his destination. On his way back, his gait was the same. When the craft suffered turbulence, he clutched the seat closest to him, he had to keep himself from falling. Despite this, he had lots to share about his recent travel and work life in a manner that did not once suggest something that would be debilitating to his movements. The octogenarian had retired from service but was not off work for he visited the court when his expertise and experience are sought. It was in the same spirit that he told me not to worry if I was asked about my immigration form and declare confidently that a judge had filled the form! His confidence and verve were infectious.
The Alphorn player: She played. Her melodious notes drifted in the breeze which carried its own music creating a rhythmic symphony. Oblivious to the lovers who went past her, arms linked, she played on, solo. Lost in her lilting tune, she acknowledged momentarily any passer-by who chose to stop for a bit to appreciate and applaud. A brief nod indicative of her acceptance; sometimes a shy smile was her way. Her face glowed; her heart pure. The celestial music, flowed from the instrument, eternally, mesmerising me and the other passers-by. I wondered what could have made her so happy. Was it the ambience or the appreciation, was it her soulful music or the fragrant cool Alpine breeze or was it simply the fact that she could bring a smile to so many, her melodic composition irresistible to them. Her angelic charm couldn’t be ignored. In her exquisite way, she inspired me to just be. Just being in the moment, relishing bringing joy to others is enough fulfilment. It raises self-worth. I owe her some coins of gratitude and grateful learning.
The man at a Bus Terminal: I was at Port Authority, NYC, waiting for the bus which had already been delayed by 30 minutes and there seemed no information forthcoming from the folks who manned the terminal. But this one, he had something better to offer. To keep the ones waiting in good cheer, he transformed into a stand-up comic. His wit kept tempers at bay and managed to evoke laughter or at least bring a smile to each harried face that stared at him almost threateningly. Without being rude or insulting or derogatory he heard the queries of each traveller who approached him, quite patiently. Picked up a word or two from there turned it around into a smart response and belted his answer. Fascinating, I watched him from where I stood, the very end of that serpentine queue, managing the swirling numbers adeptly, erasing the frown on their brows and even converting scowl into smiles. Not an easy task considering schedules were going haywire and so were resultant tempers. But the young man seemed to know exactly how to deal with each one and none returned to their place in the queue without their signature smile! How wonderful! Not an easy task. Before all of us knew, he announced that the much-delayed vehicle had arrived, and he would help anyone who needed his help while boarding! Wow! Just like that. He appreciated the patience of all of us who had waited and guided us towards the culprit. I then noticed that nearly an hour had flashed past and I hadn’t even felt I had been standing that long, all because an employee went beyond his call of duty to make sure the harried passengers waiting for the errant bus, did not leave bearing grievances. He needn’t have joked, he needn’t have been nice, he could have disappeared behind the terminal window, but he chose to be out there, face the music; rather he played a beautiful tune himself. That of kind understanding, that of ensuring each left for their destination, happy! No mean feat.