Thursday, 14 February 2013
Size, origins and familiarity influence the way we involve ourselves in activities. Normally at table etiquette behoves us to serve ourselves a small helping, pick a small size and biting into that until it is swallowed. It helps us taste our food. This lesson can be applied to general life’s issues. For most small is also the familiar, simple and humble. It helps us to make slow moves as we also learn. It is the reason why we also reliably trust in something. It is the basis of what makes us human and in sharing our experiences it makes us realise how similar we are. The small store near our home was closed throughout the snow blizzard (Feb 2013) and I failed to get a calling card I so desperately wanted. Many other people who use the adjacent gas station were affected. We missed the diminutive Mike, the store-manager and gas station operator in different ways. After two days the ‘open’ sign was brightly lit and the snow-plows were busy clearing the streets. At different homes small snow-blowers were heard churning away. Many home-owners were bent with shovels clearing scoops of snow. The big Caterpillar tractors were not necessary in the small yards. The roads leading to our homes were cleared by trucks with front loading shovels. I read of the Patron par excellence! This gentleman, a lawyer and philanthropist was always thinking of something small to leave behind. He gave USD 25 Million to a school in Massachusetts where he is an alumnus. He graduated in 1959, went on to Harvard Law School and the US Navy where he was an officer. He is currently 79 years old. He said, “I started to think about what I could leave behind. I decided to put it in something that was fun for me and for you.” He put the money into art appreciation at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Such a record amount is yet to be beaten in the history of donations to schools the world over by a single person. This will make the College be what it has always wanted to be: a place where both students and teachers are able to produce skills. The gift was called “a game changer.” The thought towards College of Holy Cross by Mr. Neil Prior will make possible the achievement of the aspirations of students and teacher alike. A young man, called Dylan, of about sixteen years thought about a 102 year old woman living alone (a shut-in) two blocks away from their home. This 102 year old woman was a ‘makeshift grandmother’ to the boy. They were friends. In a blizzard that had killed power to the neighbourhood everyone was bound to have a very cold (heatless) home. Everyone shivered and trembled. Homes of well-to-do run generators and fire places were fed wood frequently. Those who could not afford just wrapped themselves in multiple layers but were still trembling. This is how Dylan found the woman when he knocked on her door and she answered it: a ghostly pale ashen figure who was immediately admitted for hypothermia. Dylan saved the day. I happened to have gone to Boston a day before Valentine and in the bus I sat next to a lady who had travelled for 3 days. She was visiting Boston for the first time. Her phone battery had run low and she was not able to call her relatives in Boston to receive her. Her family had not heard from her. The previous day before her departure she had just found her spastic young daughter who had wandered off for a full day. She asked me for a phone in order to make a call to someone to pick her up. I was humbled even as I was giving it to her. She made her calls and was reassured she would be picked up. I went on my errands and through the help of 3 people found my way in the mazelike streets of Boston. I managed to meet all my tasks in record time and was on the next available transportation back home. From a humble Worcester Town around the mid 19th Century, a lady called Esther Howland (1828-1904) brought the Valentine idea to USA. The idea was popularised by George C. Whitney: a card with a message and a flower (red rose, mixed flower, plants tulips, carnations, lilies and chrysanthemums). The sunshine is the universal valentine gift that melted the snow and warmed the weather!