Underdogs should not be underestimated

One day, as they were driving back to their office after a visit to their customer’s factory, a Sales Executive told his General Manager that he had noticed that the GM spoke equally politely with all persons, from the Managing Director down to a janitor whom he happened to speak with. This was extremely unusual, especially in India. He asked the GM if he was equally polite to all persons in personal life as well, or whether his politeness at the customer’s factory was a part of his salesmanship.

The GM replied that it was not salesmanship. As a child, he had been brought up to be polite to all people. As he grew up, he was inspired by the story ‘The Verger’ by W. Somerset Maugham and by the real-life examples of people like industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani and film actor Rajinikanth, both of whom had grown from very modest beginnings to reach the pinnacle of their respective professions. He added, “It is only an accident of birth that we have been born in families that could provide us with a comfortable lifestyle and a good education. So, let’s not underestimate or look down upon a petrol bunk employee, who might well turn out to be another Dhirubhai Ambani, or a bus conductor, who might well turn out to be another Rajinikanth!”


“I have seen many persons coming and presenting you with boxes of mithai (sweets) to thank you for some work that you’ve done for them. Most of the time, you keep the box unopened. But, sometimes, you open the box immediately, have a small piece of mithai, and then keep it. Do you do this at random, or is there some logic behind this?” I asked the social worker.

The social worker replied, “If a box of mithai is presented by an affluent or a middle-class person, I don’t open it. However, if it’s presented by a poor person, I make it a point to open it and eat a piece. That’s because of two reasons. Firstly, while the cost of the mithai is no big deal for an affluent or a middle-class person, the poor person has probably spent a significant portion of his daily salary to buy the mithai, maybe he and his family have had to skip a meal or eat less food than usual, so I want him to have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve eaten at least one piece of the mithai presented by him. Secondly, while affluent or middle-class persons buy the mithai from a premium confectioner, poor persons generally buy the mithai from a local shop. I do not want any poor person to feel that the mithai presented by him is not good enough for me.”


The teenager came home from school, collapsed into a sofa, buried his face in his palms and started sobbing uncontrollably.

His parents were bewildered. They just couldn’t imagine what might have happened. They had never seen him so emotional before. He was a good all-round student, jovial and even-tempered, friendly with all his peers, liked by all teachers and elders, and had never got into any serious fight or quarrel with anybody.

After a few minutes, the boy calmed down and explained that a couple of older boys had been verbally bullying his friend whose hand was in a cast due to a recent fracture. When he had requested the boys to refrain from bullying his friend, they pushed him and challenged him to physically silence them. Fearing that his friend’s injury might get aggravated in any scuffle, he had just walked away with his friend, while the other boys made nasty remarks.

“Don’t let their remarks bother you,” his mother advised.

“I don’t care about their remarks. I’m upset that my friend was being bullied and I could not defend him,” the boy replied.

Oxford Dictionaries define Sensitive as, “Having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings,”
and also as, “Easily offended or upset.”

In this incident, the boy had and displayed “a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings.”

Many of us are “easily offended or upset.” How many of us genuinely “have or display a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings?”

Reach out

At 7.00 pm, Sudha came out of the Conference Room after a meeting that had lasted 5 hours. There were 6 missed calls from her close friend Lakshmi. She called back immediately.

She was shocked when Lakshmi informed her that Neeta, their close friend who now lived in Europe, had lost her young daughter in a road accident the previous night.

“How has Neeta reacted? Is she OK?” she asked

“Nobody knows. I got the sad news from Neeta’s brother a few hours back. I informed all our friends, but none of us has spoken to Neeta. What will we say, anyway?” Lakshmi replied.

Sudha decided to telephone Neeta immediately. She didn’t know what she would say. All she knew was she had to share Neeta’s grief.

When Neeta answered the call, Sudha just said, “Neeta,” and started sobbing uncontrollably. After about 15 seconds, she mumbled “Sorry” a couple of times and disconnected.

Sudha was ashamed that, instead of supporting Neeta, she had added to her distress.

She thought of calling once more, but was afraid she would burst into tears again. So she sent a text message:
Neeta, I want to speak with you, but I know I’ll break down again. I’ll call when I’m sure I can be a support, not add to your distress.

A few minutes later, she received her friend’s reply:
Sudha, believe it or not, you are the first friend to reach out to me today. That’s all that matters. That’s all I need from a true friend. Words are neither important nor necessary.


One day, when I questioned the technical correctness of a particular inspection procedure being followed by my client, he replied that the procedure was definitely correct because it had been recommended by his customer, a world-famous automotive parts manufacturer. I replied that the world-famous automotive parts manufacturer could be wrong, and explained to him why I thought the procedure was not technically correct. He conceded that there was some merit in my line of reasoning, and said he would discuss the matter with his customer.

Later, he asked me why the fact that the inspection procedure had been recommended by the world-famous manufacturer had not prevented me from questioning its correctness. I replied that I always question any information that is presented to me, irrespective of the source.

“Would you question some information that is given to you by God?” he asked.

I replied, “I would definitely question any information even if I knew it had come directly from God.”

“How can you question God? By doing that, aren’t you dishonouring God?” he asked.

I replied, “Assuming God exists, and assuming that each one of us has been created by Him, it means each of us has been given his brain by God. That God expects us to use the brain given to us by Him. By using my brain to question information given by God, I honour God. If you don’t use your brain to question God, you dishonour God!”

My customer had no answer.

Dear reader, what do you think?