Respect

Yesterday was election day in Bangalore for the 2019 Lok Sabha. I have my name enrolled in Indiranagar. I haven’t changed it to Hennur, because I don’t want to fix what’s not broken. I am not sure if I fully trust the Election Commission to transfer my vote to Hennur without any hassles. People who have lived in Bangalore for decades, voted as recent as 2018, find their name deleted this election. But that’s a story for another blog.

Standing in the queue for voting is always a moment of reflection for me. Though I have never experienced serpentine queue, instead, each one so far has been a pretty relaxed experience. The people who come out to vote always seem to have a sense of duty towards our democracy. Ours is not a perfect one by a long mile, but it’s also not the worst. Also, in the mix for this sense of duty, there are the first time voters who radiate enthusiasm, though I get confused – Is it for the election process? or the ubercool inked selfie to announce to their friends on social media that they are now responsible enough to participate in the process that decides the course this nation takes.

Yesterday, while I was queuing up to vote, in the uncharacteristically hot Bangalore summer, I witness a very memorable incident. A very senior citizen walks in to cast his vote helped by middle aged man who I later came to know was his son in law. What struck me was his 1000-watt smile as he was greeted by many folks, both young and old as he made his way inside the polling station. The respect he was getting was what got me curious. As a senior citizen, he quickly went in the booth, voted and came out. Even as he was being helped back into his car, many more people went over to him and greeted him. He cheerfully acknowledge all of them. The person standing behind me, another ‘young’ senior citizen also said hi to this old man. When he had left, I asked the gentleman behind me, who that person was. Was he some office bearer of some local organisation? a politician? The gentleman behind me replied – ‘He is nobody, but just a simple teacher, who has taught a lot of folks in that neighbourhood’. And I thought to myself – but of course!

As I gathered back my thoughts, I also remembered how my father-in-law also gets a lot of respect when he moves around in his town. He was a teacher too. At the end of the day, I can think of only two professions in India and perhaps the world, that can garner such respect from ordinary folks – Doctors & Teachers. I am an engineer by profession, I can never hope to get such adulation. There is something noble about the profession of doctors & teachers. One helps save lives, the other helps us to make our lives. I have very fond memories of my school days. I still vividly remember my teachers that have taught me. And when my thoughts wander to those days, they always bring a smile on my face. Be it Gopi teacher, or Surlacar Sir, or Mrs Surlacar, or my maths teacher Smita, or my science teacher Linda or Amonkar Sir, or Thakur teacher or Volvoikar Sir or Sunanda Pai teacher. All I can say is that I am grateful!

It’s a noble, albeit an underpaid profession. But at the end of the day, I guess it makes up for it when you walk around with a stick and people stop by and greet you with smile with nothing but gratitude and then there is this one guy who doesn’t know you, asks around to know who you are and then you leave an imprint on him too…

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