I am at the office of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. It is 1.45 in the afternoon. I have a dial up internet connection at home and for months I have wanted to get Broad Band Connection. I access BSNL site and the online application facility seems to be dysfunctional. So, I have no alternative but to physically visit their office. So, I am in the BSNL office.
“It is lunch time”, the moment I park my two wheeler, the security person declares. “Oh! I thought the lunch time is from 1.00 to 1.30”, I say. It is of no use saying ‘I think’ in such moments, but by habit I say so and feel sheepish the next moment. The security man smiles understandingly and does not comment.
“What do you want madam?” another man appears at the entrance. I tell him that I want an application form for Broad Band Connection. “Go to the ground floor right hand door,” he orders me. “But it is lunch time?” I try not to show any hope. The man says, “They are still to start their lunch. Tell them I asked you to go there if someone asks,” he adds. I do not know who this man is and whether the people inside would take this argument – many people might be using it everyday. “That much we need to do for customers”, the man is telling to the security person as I walk in.
There is certainly a door at the right side of the ground floor. It is closed. I open it partially and see three women and one man working inside. The room is full of huge machinery – about which I do not understand anything at all. “Sorry, I know it is lunch time. But I was told to meet you, can I come inside?” I ask politely.
To my surprise everyone is smiling. This is a welcome change – otherwise at government offices they constantly make you feel guilty without cause.
“Madam, please have this,” the only man in the room offers me a glass of sugarcane juice. I am surprised. This is totally unexpected offer. I was expecting a bark, a shout and instead I am getting an offer of chilled sugarcane juice. I try to refuse it politely. “Oh! No! Thanks, I just had an ice-cream,” I share information which is absolutely not necessary. I tend to share unnecessary information (when I am not writing blog ) when I am caught off guard. Then I see that everyone has a sugarcane juice glass. It is 42 degree Celsius outside; naturally everyone wants some cool fresh drink.
I smile and ask whether they are celebrating something. Now it is their turn to smile. One of the staff members has offered the juice to all his team, for no apparent cause. So, everybody is in a good mood. Then we discuss trivialities till I wait to finish them their juice.
I ask for Broad Band Application form. It is available upstairs. I go there and find the window and the room empty. This group must be taking lunch. The official lunch time is from 1.30 to 2.00. That means I will have to wait for another ten to fifteen minutes. I decide to come again as I have to catch up with some other work.
The woman from the ground floor has come to the first floor. I tell her that I plan to come again next week. She says, “Don’t go. I realized that this group has gone for lunch. Wait a second and I will give you the required form.” She gives me the form and with me she climbs down for her lunch.
For me this was one more amazing experience. If people who know me behave well with me, there is no surprise, because there is always a prior experience and expectation. It is sort of give and take – if someone helps me, I am supposed to help when my turn comes. If I don’t help, the other person would not help me next time.
But I am always amazed when strangers help. Yes, to provide forms to customers is the duty of the BSNL staff. But during lunch hour? But when that is not one’s duty and somebody else’s? And to take extra efforts for that? And to not shout but offer sugarcane juice when someone intrudes during lunch hour? Oh! Times Change and BSNL too is changing!!
I still smile when I remember that episode.
Sometimes I meet egoistic, power hungry, immature, non-cooperative people. I have my share of ugliness in life. However I can take that smilingly, because I have such BSNL type of experiences too.
After all it is my choice to allow certain experiences to shape my life and my attitude. I feel lucky that I meet so many good people everyday around that even if I want, I can’t be bitter about life. Along with cruelty, wickedness, selfishness, there is lot of good around. What is needed is to see it, enjoy it and reciprocate it!