I am excited to share yet another instance of goodness that I came across in my recent visit to Hospet. Its been a while since I wrote under this theme, but this in no way reflects that I have not found any. My new job has enabled me to see the unseen India, hear the unheard voices and meet the hidden and silent examplary human beings across the land of this wonderful country.
Mr Shaik Basha. It is about him that I want to share with all of you today. He hails from Kudligi, a town in Bellary district in Karnataka. He owns a car and provides services as a taxi driver to tourists who come to visit and see Hampi.
I visited Hospet to see the work of an NGO (More about this in another blog post). We engaged Basha to take us around to the villages, through the dusty & potholes ridden mining affected roads. He was always smiling, punctual and courteous. He is of medium height (around 5.5 ft), lean, and swift in his actions. Always alert, thoughtful and smiling.
At the end of 2 days, I had to catch a night train from Hospet to return to Bangalore. I booked the return journey from Munirabad (1 station before Hospet). After we finished our work in Koppal, we decided to come back and board the train in Hospet itself. We reached Hospet quite early. There was still 2 hours left for the boarding time. On my request he took me to a hotel that serves local cuisine and I had a delicious and healthy rotti oota.
I still had about an hour. By then, I started enjoying chatting with Basha. He narrated so many stories of the play of politics, exploitation by power and ostentations display of wealth of the mining barons of the town. Some interesting facts – Come to bangalore by helicopter just to have breakfast and then go back; fancy imported cars to drop children to school which is just a 1-2 kms away….! and so on…. !!!! Truly unbelievable.
Basha, is a kind hearted muslim. Very hard working by nature and treats the customer with great respect. As I was seated in his car, he opened an app and started tracking the train arrival. As we were chatting, he would frequently give me comfort that there was still time and that he would make sure to drop me in the station in time. He did this voluntarily. I felt good. It was very thoughtful of him.
The billing and payment was pending and he was not willing to tell me the amount. I requested him repeatedly to which he said that since I was the guest of the NGO, he would only listen to the NGO lead and not me. Finally I had to call the NGO head and request. Only then did Basha take out the bill book and write the amount for me.
While it was time to start to the station, he started the car and drove on. On reaching, he insisted he comes with me to the platform and sees me off. There was still about 10 mins for the train to come. I told him to carry on. He just refused. He told me that it was his duty to be with me and see me off, as asked of him by the NGO lead. He followed that by letter and spirit. By now I had already paid him Rs 3,360/- for two full days of taxi service (includes toll charges of Rs 60/-. Nothing extra as driver bata). For a tourist town of Hampi, this is very very reasonable.
It was fun listening to Basha. He had a lot of redness in his eyes. He told me it was due to the heavy light that hits during night driving. He has to undergo an operation soon and he was wating for the doctor to advise the correct timing.
The train arrived, he searched the compartment for me. Helped me with my luggage, waved a good bye and left the platform only after the train started moving.
We often tip (give tips to a person) when we avail any service. Sometimes we give more, when the service rendered to us is great. Thats a natural gesture for most. I thought about doing the same thing. But then, I decided not to. There were many opportunities for Basha to have asked me to give me something additional. While having dinner, while sitting and chatting in the car, while he was preparing the bill, while he carried the luggage for me, while he waited with me on the platform, while he assisted me while climbing into the compartment, while spoke of his pending eye operation…..But he didnt. I didnt notice even an hint in his gesture for an additional few hundred rupees.
This made me think deeper. To someone who was good by nature, courteous and caring so naturally, how could I give a ‘tip’. I felt giving a small amount or for that matter any amount would be trying to monetarily put a value to his goodness. I didnt give him a tip. I instead told him in my broken Hindi that I felt very good having met such a wonderful person as him and that I would never forget him and his kindness and goodness.
I also sent a sincere appreciation message to the NGO lead. For sure, I would call Basha when I go to Hampi next time and happy to recommend his name for any of you.
I am sure, Basha lights a lamp of delight in the hearts of each of his customer and every trip he serves is a lesson learnt for life. Let our lives too be such, embued with goodness, with no expectations.
Thank you, Mr Shaik Basha. Great regards for you.