Aditya Kumar is a writer in Bangalore. He and his wife sent this New Year’s Eve message to friends around the world:
With every morning’s newspaper bringing in a new plethora of sad news in our daily lives and our world sinking to new lows, I decided to spend the last few days of this year looking for ordinariness in my city, Bangalore. I was looking for stories of ordinary folks, people like you and me. Stories that may not be extravagantly positive in an ideal world but, now, in a relative sense, stand inspiring.
So, this New Year’s Eve, I was wondering, of all of the people I met, who should I tell you about? Would you like to know about the auto rickshaw wala who would most likely be enjoying the company of his family?
On a red light, in one of the streets of Koramangala, an auto driver stared blankly, lost in his thoughts.
“Thak gaya?” Are you tired, I asked him. With a faint smile, he nodded.
“Kya hua, aaj?” So what happened today?
“kya karnaa saar? Mehnat karna padta, uske bina kuch hota nahi.” What do do sir? One has to work hard, without it, nothing is possible, smiling, he replied.
“Ghar jaare ho kya?” Are you headed home, I probed.
“Bas saar, abhi khaana aur bas sona.” That is it sir, I’ll eat dinner soon and then go to bed, he replied.
“New Year Plan kiya?” Did you yet plan for the New Year, I continued.
“Kya bhi nahi saar. Achcha khaana khaana aur family ke saath rehna.” Nothing much sir, I hope to have good food (that evening) and stay at home with my family.
“31st night jyada Sawaari milega na?” Won’t you get good business, on the night of the 31st?
“Galatta hota saar. Aaram se ghar pe rehna.” There’s too much noise that day. I’d prefer being at home.
So I smiled at him, shook hands and left. It was almost green now.
Then there was also the man at the baggage counter at the mall, a 20-something from Assam, the north-eastern state of India. What was his plan for the New Year?
“Sudharna hai sir.” I’d like to be better, he told me.
“What?” I asked him again.
“Jo iss saal the, usse achcha aadmi ban na hai. Sudharna hai.” I’d just like to be a better man than I was this year, he promptly replied, while looking at the token a customer had just given him and trying to tentatively locate their baggage in the array of boxes in front of him.
Or, should I tell you about the man at the toll booth of a highway? Because when asked about his New Year plans, he was quick to reply, “Two KG Chicken and two bottles of Signature Malt Whiskey – in my room!”
And then, out of the tiny toll booth window which was probably designed to handle the lengths and breadths of rectangular currency notes, he somehow took out his hand and offered me a firm handshake, and exclaimed, “Happy New Year!”
I think I should also mention the security guard who was in charge of the parking at a mall. When asked about his New Year’s plans, he said he was not sure how long would he have to work that night, but he was sure he’d have a good meal at the end of his day, have a good sleep and then, on the morning of 1st January 2013, prolong his daily prayers a little before heading to work.
So you see, in the year 2013, here’s what we are wishing for you: We wish you work hard, harder than you already do and be a better human being than you already are. And at the end of every day, we wish that you have a good, hearty meal in the company of your loved ones.
It is not too extravagant, we know. But we all won’t mind a little normalcy in our lives, now would we?
Have a great year.