As I was trying to park my car, I banged into the car parked nearby. Realizing the damage to be huge, I prepared myself to face the consequence. As part of the common scenario, a defaulter has to go through a series of verbal abuses before finally paying for the actual damage. The frequency and tune of abuse might vary depending upon the appearance and attitude of the stakeholder.
“It’s OK, don’t worry, there is only a minor brush… Chill”, said the owner of the car as he came smiling towards me. “My visit to the workshop is due, I shall get it repaired next week”, he added introducing himself as Mr. Li Pong from Meghalaya, a north-eastern state in India. We shook hands and he left. For a while, I could not believe my ears and eyes. I came back home relaxed and perplexed at the same time, unable to come to terms with what I had just experienced: a very rare kind of behavior.
A week later I met Mr. Li Pong again during my morning walk; we greeted each other and started walking together. I inquired if his car was repaired, to which he smiled and said, “If for every minor scratch, I run to a workshop, I would never be able to enjoy my life”. Mr. Pong, who was recently posted in Delhi, works for a PSU. It was his first posting in a metro city and he was apprehensive about his transfer to Delhi. However, he finally found three factors in favor of the city – health care, better education for the children and the PVR theatre where he can enjoy the Hindi movies.
While walking through the park, joggers and walkers greeted him. Just as I was wondering how come an outsider knew so many people in the locality, a bunch of children cheered up upon seeing him. It was his football team, mostly street children. He said goodbye to me and soon got engaged with the game. There was hardly any space but was enough to crunch in 12 odd footballers to sweat it out. Mr. Pong does have the looks of a footballer standing at around 5 feet 10 inches, muscular and without a mustache like any other guy from north-eastern part of India.
In the next few days we became quite friendly. I started observing him very closely, the way he smiled, his interaction with people and the way he approaches any issue. He was a very ordinary guy in the neighborhood, yet one cannot miss out on noticing the positivity that he emits from every part of his body. While driving he would prefer to wait rather than honking. From watchman to the rag picker, he would address them by name and they reciprocate accordingly. He always carries his smile and patience with him, and surprisingly enough he succeeded in solving all his issues with his two ‘priceless weapons’.
One fine day I asked him how can he be so nice and still manage to push ahead with his way in a city like Delhi. He responded smilingly “When you are new to a place or an organization, people consider you to be a threat and treat you in an unusual manner”. He continued, “But when you behave with them in a polite manner, they assume, too much of good behavior can only come from a weak person, and that is when their fear drops down”. Mr. Pong went on elaborating, “Once you succeed in erasing the element of threat from their minds, the same people will unknowingly agree/surrender to whatever you say”. He concluded “I prefer to be weak and happy rather than to be strong and unhappy. It’s all about our choice and perception.“
I started practicing the thumb rule of smile and patience. I found the formula to be working. Once I was forced to park my car few yards away from my house (in Lajpat Nagar, a densely populated locality in Delhi, all cars are parked on the road). A lady came yelling at me “This is our space, don’t you have brains. Where will we park our motorcycle?” More than the words it was her tune that irritated me. But I smiled, as she continued with her verbal gun shots, and kept smiling (I must say it was tough) and she went on. Finally when she stopped, I explained to her that I stay on the other side of the road and if she really wants I am ready to remove my car. I tried to convince her saying that being her neighbor we are like a family as in the case of a small town from where I come from. Further, I explained to her that she can count on me for any kind of help, anytime. She stared at me for a while, asked my house number and allowed me to park my car. Since, then I never had a problem parking my car.
Since then, I am trying to follow the thumb rule. I have found success on few occasions, although I must confess the process is quite tough. But when I succeed I would be the happiest person. My perception of life is changing. Now, sometimes I carry a toffee or biscuit for the rickshaw driver who drops me in the metro station, almost on a daily basis. Last weekend he bought Aam ka acchar (Mango Pickle) for me from his village in Bihar.
Mr. Li Pong has made me realize that life is indeed very simple, only until we decide to complicate it. Happy Living to all!