My Inspirations – 1

If you are wondering if a breakfast on a banana leaf is my inspiration, blame it on Google and specifically Google Images.  I was searching for a photograph of a person serving a south Indian wedding breakfast and this was the best I could find.

You may be disappointed that I am not writing about a famous personality or even about someone with a face.  That’s exactly the point!! I mentioned in my preface post that I have been inspired by the famous as well as the obscure and I am going to write about both sections interspersed to make it more interesting for you and more relevant for me.  Enough of the introduction

I am sure each one of you has attended many weddings and partaken breakfast/lunch/dinner of different kinds ranging from the exotic to the mundane.  It is quite possible that you remember a particular wedding(s) because either the food was superb or pathetic.  I am going to share with you an instance of the former.

Almost 20 years ago, my newly married wife and I went to her friend’s wedding and because it was a working day we went in for the muhurtham (or muhurat for those who are not familiar with the Tamizh word) which was quite early.  As is the tradition, we were welcomed by someone at the marriage hall who asked us to have the breakfast and join them after doing so.

We went upstairs (I think it is Subha kalyana mandapam in Dr Rangachari road in Mylapore) and took a seat.  A banana leaf was spread before us and the standard fare of a sweet, 2 idlis, pongal, sambar and chutney were served.  Pretty ordinary, you would say and I will concur, until now!!

The person who was serving was a short and middle-aged male in his 40’s (then) wearing a dhoti and a banian with kunkum & viboothi in his forehead.  Again a commonplace description as most people who serve at Brahmin weddings (atleast then) would fit into this profile!!

He created the magic soon after.  When he saw that I liked the pongal, he came over and voluntarily served another generous filling with a very pleasing smile unlike most people who would be waiting for you to leave after eating and would reluctantly saunter if you asked for something!!

Not only that!  He (I’m ashamed that I did not ask for his name even though the memory is still vivid & fresh after 20 years!!) was as pro-active as a loving grandmother or mother!!  Chutney, idlis and vadai reappeared on my leaf as they vanished into my mouth and they were accompanied with “some more chutney?” kind of phrases.  At the same time, he was not imposing on me by dumping whatever he was carrying on to my leaf!!  As I finished off, he brought a cup of steaming coffee and asked if I wanted something else.

It wasn’t that he had singled me out for this preferential treatment!! Every person in that dining area was accorded this personalized and VIP kind of service.  I was really struck by the quality of his bearing and immaculate manner in which he had served me.  I could see that he was enjoying what he was doing and it was not ‘just doing my job’ that we are all so familiar with!!

I am now able to relate to this person with a very famous saying “If you are sweeping the streets, be the best you can as if you are a Michelangelo”.  He demonstrated to me that if one can bring care & love to even the most mundane of the activities, it could have an ever lasting impact.

He was like that fragrance that touches every one he comes in contact with and leaves them feeling wonderful and great.  Wherever he is, I want to salute him and dedicate this post to him.

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1 Comment

  1. N Ramesh said,

    February 24, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Dear Badri,

    I am glad that you are able to clearly remember to the extent you can and even vividly express and describe what all happened on that feastful day, an incident which really inspired you and is even almost fresh in your neural pathways !

    Good and keep remembering and recollecting / recapitulating such vital and inspiring moments in your lifespan !

    Thus Spake N Ra !


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