Coming from a family with a defence background, I have had the opportunity to travel across the country along with my family. Today, as I think back, I realise the presence of Aditya Birla Group in each of these journeys.
Every year, during the summer, I would travel back to my home town of Kollam in Kerala. Railways were always the preferred mode of transport. As a kid at the railway station, the overhead power lines and the pantographs on top of the engines were something that fascinated me a lot. Especially, as we moved south, to the regions where railways were yet to be electrified, the engines would be switched to diesel locomotives, and long dark trails of smoke would replace the overhead power lines.
Today, having graduated as a mechanical engineer and having been trained by the Indian Railways themselves, I realise the importance of those overhead lines. These lines had to be rugged enough to bear the heat of the blazing sun in Rajasthan, the torrential rains of the south and the freezing winters of the north. They had to be capable of bearing the intense wear and tear from the trains 24/7. The copper used for making these cables came from Hindalco, an Aditya Birla Group company. Metaphorically enough, these cables just like Aditya Birla Group connected the country from North to South and East to West.
Further, the presence of retail chains like More Store and Pantaloons across the country gave us the confidence during these journeys of the presence of a trustworthy partner who would provide us with all our requirements no matter where we were. The connectivity that Idea cellular provided ensured that we could roam the entire country on a single network. Every time I hitchhiked with a trucker, probably the was made of Hindalco aluminium.
These journeys are what made me who I am. They shaped my character and my life. Aditya Birla Group had always been a silent partner in all these journeys, supporting not just me, but an entire nation in building the future for the next generation.
Smiling in the Face of Crisis
This happened long back when I was in 10th grade. I had broken my hand while playing at school, and my forearm was in bad shape. The school authorities took me home, and from there, my parents took me to the Military Hospital. At the hospital, the doctors advised that a surgery would be required, but since the operation theatre wasn’t free for almost another week, I would have to wait.
I was admitted to the ward and was given a bed near the aisle. There was a TV set a few beds away to my left in the corner. It was placed high on a stand so that the entire ward could see. The rules of the ward were quite strict. My parents were only allowed to visit for a short duration in the morning and evening. So most of the day I had to spend alone. The initial few days, I didn’t notice much of what was happening around me. The pain and discomfort had me preoccupied.
I believe it was during my third night at the hospital. India was touring the West Indies, and there was supposed to be a crucial match. The TV and all the lights had already been turned off, and I was trying to sleep. At around 10:00 PM, I woke up to the sounds of muted cheers. The TV was switched on, and one of the ward mates was sneaking beneath the TV. The live telecast of the match was on. I looked around. Under the dim light of the TV, I could see the beaming faces sitting up on the beds, happy like little kids when pulling off a prank. I also joined in and started enjoying the match. I had forgotten my pain; I was happy. The guy who was sneaking beneath, probably having noticed my interest, came over and sat beside me. He talked to me for a while, asked me my name and the whereabouts of my dad. By then, a light turned on in the nursing station, and all of a sudden, the TV turned off, and everyone went to bed.
The next morning when I woke, there was merry all around. India had won. There was even a guy going around giving sweets to everyone. That is when I noticed, the guy was on crutches. One of his legs was amputated, and he had an artificial leg. There were others around me, with nails and metal implants projecting out of their limbs. Some had multiple fractures. The guy who was sneaking around the previous night seemed to be the fittest of the lot. He only had an arm sling on him. What amazed me the most was the fact that none of them looked deterred by their conditions. All of them had this smile on their faces and were helping each other out in every way they could. Many of them were war veterans; many were old aged.
That evening when my parents came over to visit, the guy with arm sling came over and wished my dad. It turned out that they were old acquaintances. During their conversation, my father came to know from the guy that he had dislocated his shoulder while playing volleyball and that the day before he had to go out and buy the sling since the hospital pharmacy had run out of stock. My father asked him to complain since the sling was supposed to be given for free, to which he replied, “Sir, there is an implant in my shoulder that would cost me Lakhs of rupees in the market, the hospital did my operation free of cost. All my medicines and lodging come free of cost. If my country is doing so much for me, just for having done what my duty is, can’t I go buy a sling for myself.”
That evening I realised that the ultimate pleasure one can have was in having done one's duty without any flaw. No matter what the pain and what the sacrifice, the satisfaction one derives from having completed his/ her duty can overcome the rest.
I underwent my surgery a few days later. I was advised bed rest for a couple of months, and it took another couple of months for me to return to my daily routines. Since I was due for my board exams, some of my teachers and school advised me to repeat 10th grade. But I refused and worked hard to pass with good marks. From that day on, till today, when I face a crisis, I remember the smiling faces of those brave men, and every crisis becomes just another day in life.