Saturday, September 15, 2012

I am a nobody but I want to give you an award

It happens many times that I come across rare people who have no clue that they are rare. In fact I wouldn't be wrong if I called them a critically endangered (CR) species. Those are the people who take their work seriously, work really hard for a paltry amount and yet beam a 1000 watt smile of  having immense job satisfaction. I don't know how they do it. If even one meal cooked by me goes unappreciated, people at home better prepare for my mood swings. But there are these people I meet from time to time who get minimal or absolutely no recognition for their work yet their heart is singing at work. There is no drop in the quality of their work output, it is completed with as much meticulousness and precision as they started it with. Regular mundane non-glam jobs. Nobody would notice or complain if they underdelivered because the next best person doing them is doing a pretty shoddy job of it anyway. Yet they invest hard labour and extra time to do it just right.

A coffee stall lady, a washerman, a brass replica maker, a gardener, a carpenter, a dyer and many more. I have made a mental note of their working styles. It has a pattern. A pattern totally independent of external stimuli. Sometimes to the extent of being imperceptively oblivious to emergency/gravity of the situation or being thick-skinned to the requirement of others around them. They simply go on with their job with surgical clock-work precision.

What drives them or makes them so? I am yet to discover.

I asked some of them. They didn't know that they were doing something other than what they have learnt from childhood or that they were any different from others. They had no clue that the world around them has changed to smarter ways of working, demanding recognition and commanding a handsome edge by threatening to quit. The only answer I found most of the time was a smile and "this is how I work". That's it.

Pushpa at Talcauvery
The lady in the photograph is Pushpa. She runs a small coffee shop in Talcauvery. It had rained a lot. We stopped for coffee. Her two daughters were back from school and reading comic books on makeshift tables. She had few or no customers that day. We were drenched and in a hurry. But were trapped because she cut open a new milk pouch and asked us to wait. We had no choice but to sit and wait it out. She boiled the milk and the filter coffee decoction separately (I would have just added the milk, straight from the pouch, to the boiling decoction). She let the milk boil a lot till 1/3rd of it was reduced. We were getting fidgety. Asked her to speed it up. She said, "richer milk makes the coffee tastier". I am assuming it is because then you have to add lesser quantity of milk and sugar. Then she performed the well known coffee pouring ritual for each tumbler separately. All we wanted was just a quick cup of coffee, this was taking forever. Yes it took time. But it was the best filter coffee I have ever had. I don't think she knows that she makes better coffee than a lot of overpriced outlets.

We meet many such people. They care not for what others think or want. They care not for what they want as well. They are simply absorbed in what they do.

I see this in the corporate jobs too but there, at least the money makes up a bit for it. Or maybe not.

All I want to tell everyone who belongs to this industrious group to workers who toil away for nothing but the fact that whatever they do, they do it to their best potential, is that - I am a nobody but I want to give you an award for being the way you are.

And yes, if there is a secret to such selfless self-motivation, may it be revealed at the earliest. I am joined by many in this quest.


  1. I've also seen such people and failed to understand the source of their ceaseless motivation. Actually it could be a blessing in disguise that some people are not at all aware of their potential or talent, and consequently, they just energetically execute whatever tasks they're given. They enjoy what they do because they don't get themselves burdened with expectations of a recognition. The outcome of this type of attitude is consistently productive.

  2. I still don't know what could be the source. But there sure is something serene and content about them (despite the problems they might be having).

  3. I too have met many such people. Their attitude is indeed something which people like me need to learn from them.

  4. Would love to learn it too but I am not sure if it is circumstantial, inborn or cultivated over time.


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