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Lessons on a train journey – Part 2

“Oh that would be dishonest, isn’t it?” he humbly protested. “I am simply an attendant, a private employee who takes care of the bed sheets, blankets, quilt and pillows for the passengers. I have no right to take their water bottles.”

I got more curious. I asked him his name; about his salary, family and his story.

Mahindar Singh is forty one years old and hails from the famed religious town of Mahendipur Balaji, in Madhyapradesh.  He is accountable for each bed sheet and towel in his coach. He said, “I have no holiday. I reach Mumbai at 10.30 in the morning and I deposit these clothes and take a quick shower and lunch. Then, I am back to work as I board the evening train back to Delhi. The train reaches its destination next morning and I follow the same routine again.”

“What about your rest?” I asked, concerned that he isn’t properly rested.

“It’s all here in this train, in bits and pieces.”

“That’s inhuman!” I protested.

If I hoped he had a decent salary that compensated for his super hectic schedules, I’d now be terribly disappointed. “I am supposed to get 8,500 rupees per month but I get only around 4,000” he said, as if he meekly resigned to his fate.

“Is the rest put in your provident fund?” I asked. He smiled sarcastically and said, “No, sir, for each cloth that goes missing, I lose fifty rupees. Well-to-do people travel in this luxury, high speed trains, yet many of them take away the small towels or bed sheets. And that’s a direct kick on my stomach!”

Now I was angry, but suddenly realized that this man had no vindictive anger. He could have easily justified picking up water bottles or stealing from his financially endowed customers, yet he chose to stay honest.

When I appreciated him, he said, “God has been very kind to me. He has given me everything in life except a decent job. But I have no regrets. I have a good family and blessed parents.” His non-envious and satisfied attitude humbled and inspired me.

And he wasn’t as educated as many of us. But he surely could teach us a lesson in integrity and humility.

To be continued….

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