What does it take to make one happy? Success, riches, luxe goodies, fast cars, bubbly. While I wouldn’t say no to any and all of these, in an era where waning ethics are juxtaposed with super-sized egos, winsome service with a smile rocked my day. And it happened in the most ordinary of settings, with people who would have more to crib than most of us, whose lives would surely be harder than ours.
After months of trying to get someone to dye a shirt for me (sentimentally attached to it as it is a gift purchased by my architect nephew from his first pay cheque which had unfortunately acquired the colour of the wrapping it came in), I lucked out. Rows of clotheslines had fabrics of various hues drying out; hearing my hesitant voice, Shabaz turned around in amazement, “How did you find this place”?
He smiled, appreciating my tenacity in tracking him down to the top of non-descript huddle of nameless buildings. “Give me a call and come by when you visit Commercial Street next, I’ll do my best,” he said.
Next stop was Shalimar stores on Ibrahim Sahib Street. My quest is for fabric to reduce the glare from the skylights at home. I was hesitant to ask for the bundle that was at the bottom of the stack. But young Inayath declared with aplomb, “I will turn the shop upside down, don’t worry about it. Making my customers happy is important to me”.
Last stop, corner of Kamaraj Road. Corn-on-the-cob, freshly roasted on a charcoal fire by Mary, perched under an umbrella. “Show me my photo”, she said, “I didn’t smile because I have only one tooth – I am nearly 80, and my teeth have fallen off”. Some young louts piss her off, asking her for water after eating the corn. She comments to me, “When I go out, I carry my water”; the cobs are Rs. 20 apiece, a steal if you compute her costs for the cart, raw corn, charcoal, lime, salt and chilli powder, the mamool and her personalized service.
These three are radiant with a cheerful attitude to their work and goodwill to fellow humans; not only did they make my day, they made me introspect upon my attitude.