I had been bicycling uphill constantly for an hour and a half. I wished to reach a village called Marhi, 40 kms uphill from Manali, India.
At one point, the elevation was too steep for me to keep the bicycle in motion. I decided to stop catch a much needed breath. My heart was racing like that of caged mice on steroids. I leaned my head down to rest it on the handlebar and slowly let my heart rate drop with each deep breath.
In this incapacitated state, I heard a voice from behind.
‘Hey, where are you coming from?’ asked a man wearing a friendly smile.
‘I have been bicycling from Delhi. Today, I wish to reach Marhi, about 30 kms up from here.’
He took a good look up and down my petite body frame.
With an equal measure of wonder and resolve, he said,
‘I own a gym back home. But I myself feel quite unfit. I used to take a car from home to the gym and then exercise hoping to lose weight.
But today, after seeing you, I promise that I will get myself a bicycle and bike to the gym everyday.
You gave me great energy !’
I wondered, how could I, being in such a beaten down, tired state, could still energise a random stranger on the road?
His gesture eased my heart. I thanked him and continued onward.
At a point where I was vulnerable, this person acknowledged my presence, my pursuit and my grit and replenished me with energy.
I realised how much a person desires to be acknowledged.
Moving on, I saw a board on the highway that grabbed my attention. It mentioned the name of the army engineer who first envisioned and surveyed the Manali-Leh highway. I felt good to know of the visionary man who dared to dream of a highway in such treacherous terrain.
Further down the road, I saw construction workers toiling away under the full sun, building a section of the highway. A few kilometers ahead, there were people laying down optical fiber cables.
And I wondered, the names of these people will never appear on any sign board saying that they helped build a highway, or they laid the cables for the high speed internet we would enjoy.
Then, at that moment, I remembered how much I’d liked being acknowledged by the gym owner in the highway.
It is such a human quality after all!
Right then, I made a decision to wave at or give a thumbs up to each person I find working on the road.
And thereafter, no construction worker was ever left without a smile.
Some of them were apprehensive to smile. That just made me realise how rarely were they even acknowledged as humans.
This experience only made me believe that we should acknowledge and celebrate these name less faceless humans who work hard in oblivion to ensure our lives run smoothly.
Next time you find someone whose work would mostly go unacknowledged, choose to just smile at them, give a thumbs up, or if you can afford the time, talk to them for a bit.
Your attention and affection are precious.
Choose to ration a little of it to people who go unnoticed.
All of sudden, the world around you will embody more love and brotherhood.
It all boils down to your choice.
Smile, will you?