Jul 24, 2011

50 cents

A 10-years-old boy visited a soda shop, climbed on to a stool and asked the Waitress, "What does an ice cream sundae cost?"

"50 cents," answered the Waitress.

The youngster reached deep in his pockets and pulled out an assortment of change, counting it carefully as the waitress grew impatient. She had 'bigger' customers to wait on.

"Well, how much would just plain ice cream be?" the boy asked.

The waitress responded with noticeable irritation in her voice, "35 cents."

Again, the boy slowly counted his money. "May I have some plain ice cream, please?" He gave the waitress the correct amount, and she brought him the ice cream.

Later, the waitress returned to clear the boy's dish and when she picked it up, she felt a lump in her throat. 

There on the counter the boy had 15 cents

She realized that the boy had enough money for the sundae, but sacrificed it so that he could leave her a tip.

The boy had learnt how to be selfless and caring. Most people today barely understand what it takes to be those things.

Little acts of Selflessness and Kindness make our world Bigger and Brighter, and more importantly, HAPPIER.
In a world that tell us "go get it all", it's also nice to GIVE ALL WE CAN.

Jul 14, 2011

The Old Lady and the Cab Driver

For those of you who haven't read the story of the old lady and the cab driver, here it is. It is one of the most touching ones I have ever come across. Enjoy!


Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.
I pulled up at 2:30 a.m. in front of the building from where I was supposed to pick up a passenger. It was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away.

But, I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute", answered a frail, elderly voice.
I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase.

The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware. "Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said.

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. "It's nothing", I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated". "Oh, you're such a good boy", she said.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?" "It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly. "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospital". I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
"What route would you like me to take?" I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city.
She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighbourhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now." We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door.
The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse. 

"Nothing," I said. "You have to make a living," she answered. "There are other passengers," I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you." I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light.
Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.


We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.


You won't get any big surprise in 10 days if you share this with ten people. But, you might help make the world a little kinder and more compassionate place. 

Jul 10, 2011

New York City

The favourite city of the world-NYC!

We spent about a day and a half there, because of which we could only do about half of what we really wanted to. We were with my mom's side of the family this time.

Some of the places we went to were the WTC, Wall street, UN headquarters, Times square, Empire State Building, Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum.

The first day we took a hop on hop off bus, which took us all over the place. They also pointed out a lot of places to us on the way. But given a chance, I wouldn't go on one of those again. To begin with, the guides on the bus talked way too much. It was irritating after about 5 minutes of being on the bus. Secondly, I saw people who were on a bicycle tour. So they were actually biking around the city, which sounds so much more fun.

Residential Apartments in Manhattan
One of the famous NY News Reels
Tiles put up by children in memory of victims of 9/11
The Empire State Building stands high

The World Trade Center AKA Ground Zero was pretty impressive, considering their rebuilding of the WTC was going pretty fast. They also had a museum which was set up as a tribute to those who died in 9/11. It was pretty sad to see all of that and to once again be reminded of the thousands who died.

The rebuilding of the WTC
Everyone crowds in front of a picture of what the WTC will look like once it's complete
Paper Cranes at the 9/11 museum: A japanese tradition of prayer which after the  Hiroshima attacks came to be recognized as  a symbol of peace 
One of the very touching signs at the 9/11 Museum
Wall Street wasn't too great. I thought that it'll be something more, but it was just like any other commercial office complex. But then again, it is one of the most influential places of the world!

United Nations Headquarters was soo great. It's one of the best places i've ever been to- and one of the most powerful. Unlike the rest of the buildings in NYC, this particular building did not belong to any one country. It belonged to 192. We managed to see the General Assembly and the Security Council. The whole place seemed so influential. It probably is.

The UN security council
The General Assembly

My cousin and I next to Ban-ki-moon, UN secretary general

They also had this gallery, where they had put up stuff about what various agencies (UNESCO, UNICEF) of the UN do. It was the best thing ever.

Next we went to Times Square. We didn't stay there too long, but we stayed long enough to see all the advertisement boards, and the lights and everything else. It would be a great place to hang out. 

My cousin and I at Times Square
The Empire State Building was amazing! Although we had to wait in line for almost 2 hours, it was worth the wait. We went at night, since it was open till late and it anyway would have been better at night, with the lights of the city and everything. The city from up there looked like it had been built out of lego. Everything looked so tiny. And the lights added to it's beauty. Up there, I couldn't stop thinking of the number of people who live in the city.

The view of the city from Empire State Building

On our 2nd day in New York, we went to the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum.
The Ripley's museum had all kind of crazy things.

Johny Eck's torso ended where his hips should have begun

Grace Mcdaniel, better known as the ugliest woman in the world

Prisoners found guilty of heresy were subjected to the embrace of the 'iron maiden' which was designed carefully to pierce the eyes, throat and heart.

Liars in China 1200 BC were slowly roasted

A portrait of Obama made with beads
The central park was beautiful! Too bad we only had little time that we could spend there. But you could spend a entire day there! It was HUGE. And there was so much activity going on there. There were yoga classes, artists, joggers, cyclists, people on a picnickers. Whats more, we even saw a wedding going on there!

Picnickers in Central Park

The family in front of the lake at central park
The metropolitan Museum was too big to be seen. It was incredible to see that so many artifacts can be contained in one museum. 

A painting of a view of Oyster bay
Long Necked Bottles from the embalming cache of King Tutankhamun
A statue of Goddess Sakhmet
At the end of our New York trip, I kept wishing we had more time to see the rest of the places there. But we did manage to see all the good ones!
New York reminds me of New Delhi and Mumbai 5 years from now. It has the same city bustle and car honks! The best part of NYC is that no one cares what you're up to!
At the end of the day, I was glad to have been able to see what people call 'the greatest city in the world'