Wednesday, December 30, 2009



Meet Elango. Age 12 years. A helper in a roadside automobile mechanic's shop in T.Nagar, Chennai. A town bus speeds past him as he stands near his shop. Elango notices something unusual with the bus; he hears a sharp noise from under the running bus. Yes, the transmission rod - rear axle joint had broken and the bus was about to go out of the driver's control. Elango decided to raise an alarm. He started running along with the bus shouting "stop, stop!" The driver applied the brake and the bus ground to a halt. All the fifty-odd passengers got down and learnt that their lives had been saved by the efforts of Elango. They heaved a sigh of relief. When they looked for the one who saved them all, they found the boy walking back to his shop calmly. A traffic constable who witnessed all this ran up to Elango. In gratefulness he offered to buy a breakfast for him. Elango politely declined the offer and kept on walking toward his workspot.

(Based on a news item which appeared

in the Chennai edition of INDIAN EXPRESS in 1982).


Meet 14 year old Om Prakash. A roadside dweller of Jammu in Jammu - Kashmir state. Once G.M.Jagtiani, a journalist from Mumbai, engaged him to carry his luggage. He took pity on the boy and gave a little more money. Om Prakash won't touch it. He said he would not accept alms. Jagtiani, in appreciation, left a few copies of his booklet with Om Prakash; asked him to sell them and send him the proceeds after deducting a commission. A few weeks later Jagtiani received the due amount. He was overwhelmed and sent back the same to the boy as a token of his happiness over the lad's honesty. To his utter dismay the money came back with the note that the addressee was dead. Om Prakash had died of frost bite while he was asleep at the roadside in that Himalayan state.

(Based on a Letter To The Editor by Jagtiani published in the Mumbai edition of THE TIMES OF NDIA).


Dahipara. A hamlet of Orissa 5 kilometres away from the coast. It had - yes, had - a population of 1,050. Of these, 587 were killed by a super cyclone which devastaed 5 coastal taluks of the state in October 1999. Even as the survivers of Dahipara were trying to adjust to their life in makeshift polythene jhuggies in the relief camp, an earthquake struck parts of Gujarat. These villagers of Orissa managed to collect Rs. 7,000. This they promptly handed over to the Chief Minister of Orissa with a request that the amount be sent to the quake hit families of Gujarat.

(Based on a report in THE HINDU dated February 22, 2001).


Meet the people of village Pokharan in the middle of the deserts of Rajastan. They have witnessed two underground nuclear tests, one in 1974 and the other in May 1998. Prior to the second test, one defence department official had a chat with some of the villagers. He hinted that some army men will be patrolling the place as a routine. To his surprise the villagers responded, "Sir, it is the bomb, is it not? We shall keep the secret. Don't worry." They did. Even the effforts of the CIA's surveilance satellites failed to locate the spot of implosion, media reports revealed later.

(Based on a 1998 INDIA TODAY cover story by Raj Chengappa).


The intersection of the then Mount Road and Nungambakkam High Road in Chennai was once the 'Gemini Circle'. About 35 years back, on a busy hour, a man lay there on the roadside in a pool of blood, screaming for help. Seemed to be a road accident. Office-goers were rushing to their offices - after a split second glance at the man. Lakshmi had no office to rush to. Once her eyes fell on the pathetic scene, not a second was wasted. She threw aside the construction worker's 'bond' on her head with the spade and her lunch box in it. Gathered the victim, put him in an autorikshaw and sped off to the hospital. This timely step helped save the man. Of course, Lakshmi had to part with her tiny nose - ring made of gold to pay the auto fare. Add to this the loss of that day's wage which Lakshmi would otherwise have earned by dint of hard work at some construction site. But had she the mind to calculate it all? No chance.

(Based on a report in DINAMANI, a Chennai Tamil daily).