Saturday, September 21, 2013

Of Departed Flights and Goodness

Let me call him AB. I did not know him well. He was a very senior person in the industry. I held a slightly arm’s length with him. In meetings he was always vociferous and made his points clearly. Today was no different. In all the cacophony in the room, his voice was clear and soft. He ran his own company. I was not sure of him. I thought he was wanting to get something from everyone. After the meeting, he said he would drop me to the airport. I agreed. Nice car, his BMW. We reached the airport. He parked his car and he wanted to have some coffee with me. He was doing some ‘business development’ I thought. He had 40 minutes, he said.

The coffee arrived as did a lean young man with a hint of worry on his forehead. He hesitatingly asked us if we could help him. He had missed his flight and the airline was not in a position to take him on the next without a fresh ticket, which was really expensive. He was going to Srinagar. And he had no money to foot the big cost.

Here we were two suited gentlemen and he thought we wielded some influence! I was not sure what to do. AB did not hesitate. He simply asked some questions and asked me if we would help the man in trouble. He did not wait for a response, and went to the reservation counter and spent the next 30 minutes speaking with passion that we ought to be gentler with our Kashmiri brother. Rulebooks were thrown at us. AB would not give up. I added my two rupees’ worth.

Finally, the reservation manager relented and a fresh ticket was issued for a flight the next day – something that is seldom done. All thanks to AB, for a complete stranger who approached us.

AB need never have done this. Yet he did. And he did not allow for any big drama of gratitude. And made it look easy in the eyes of a stranger who almost gave up hope of getting back and in time, to his family.

How easy it is to judge someone and sometimes unfairly, and carry an impression that is never validated. A simple act of kindness witnessed at close quarters left me in wonderment.

Respect does not grow in an instant. In my case it did. And I was acutely aware of my failing - Inability to see the goodness beyond the image is the same as impaired vision. I thanked the young man. It was time to leave. Our 40 minutes were up. I felt the extra warmth when I hugged AB.

It took a departed flight to understand the goodness in someone.