The Andolana Mysore newspaper article on Operation Shanti's Street People Program (January 12, 2008)
January 12, 2008
Column: Telling It Like It Is
Article: Compassion of the heart surpasses all money and wealth
By: V. Rajshekhar Koti
Translated by: Ms. Shwetha Rao
The other day I was traveling on the Sayyaji Rao Road in Mysore to the Cauvery handicraft emporium. While parking my vehicle by the road, I saw a sight that caught my attention. On the edge of a footpath nearby, I saw this foreigner couple sitting on the floor with the street women & their children. They may have been married or were just lovers. They seemed to be a healthy, good looking couple. They were distributing some eatables/snacks wrapped in paper to the kids. Why was this couple, some 20-21 year old travelers from Europe mingling with people on the street, ridden with skin diseases like leprosy, entrenched in dirt and stench, rather than visit tourist destinations, have fun and return back? Why were they feeding them these snacks? These thoughts ran forefront, pestering my mind. There was curiosity too. I was not willing to leave the scene just yet. I just sat on me vehicle and proceeded to see what they would do next.
Five minutes went by, 10 minutes went by, it did not seem like they were budging from there any time soon. Seamless thoughts and curiosity suppressed, I proceeded to go to the Cauvery handicraft emporium.
Upon my return some 20-25 minutes later, I noticed that the foreign couple was still there by the street. Now they were playing with the kids. The man sat this kid up on the railing, sliding the child down as if on a train and was laughing along with the kid. The lady had another kid on her lap, and was playing with the child. They seemed happy, too. The other kids were surrounding them and laughing, giggling together. I just could not believe my eyes… I rubbed my eyes together and looked again. What I was seeing was not my imagination. It was reality. I still have not recovered from that mesmerizing sight. It has had such a profound effect on me.
Have we (including me) ever turned and given a second look to these poor, helpless people and their kids who are from our own city? Even if we do, we get disgusted, do we not? Ashamed, are we not? In instances where we do look and are accosted by them on their begging, we throw a couple of rupees at them and walk away feeling quite magnanimous on our own path, do we not? If ever we travel to a foreign country, it is not uncommon for us to visit the tourist destinations, take in their wealth, standard of living, and development and return envious and full of praise, too.
Now take a look at this couple. What are they really doing coming into our city? They are spending time spreading joy among our street children. They are happy doing so. Isn't this the most heart rendering, humane & compassionate behavior? I called my photographer Madhusudan on my mobile, to take their photograph with the intention of conveying this scene to you all. When he reached the footpath after a while, they were still there, with those kids, playing around. When he got ready to take a shot with his camera, the couple protested. They requested to not be photographed, but by then Madhusudhan had already taken one shot, which is what I am presenting here for your viewing.
Now just pay some attention to this thought. Wealth as we know it is not just money, property, possessions. The richness of our heart surpasses all these material things. The happiness, self satisfaction you experience by being a support to the helpless & underprivileged way surpasses that experienced by material possessions & wealth. It is what this young foreign couple are showing us, is it not?