“The problem with XYZ and you is that you are too passionate about your jobs”. When a senior person in my previous organisation told me this over a project discussion many years ago, it hit me like a nuke dropped in  Hiroshima many years ago. ‘What!!!!’ I said to myself. ‘Time to change’ I said to myself. Time to be ‘not so passionate’ I said to myself. ‘Why do I care if no one does’ I said to myself.  What surprised me unpleasantly was the conviction with which this was said and stressed upon. The real problem took a back seat (I’ll say it was thrown out of the seat literally) and the discussion moved towards ‘why one should not do his work or anything with passion/commitment etc’.

Taking it with a pinch of salt I tried to mould my ways as others had done, be diplomatic and easy going as others were. Tried to do work without passion as expected.. but it’s hard, rather impossible for me.

Flash forward to last week – I was standing at a local tyre shop to get a puncture fixed. True passion was on display there. There was a hairline puncture that was almost impossible to trace. The poor puncture guy took good 40 minutes to locate it and checked and rechecked his judgement to be sure it was the only leak. I saw 5 more folks join him in trying to locate that leak. For them it was not the petty INR 60 they were looking forward to earn by fixing the tyre. It was the sense of accomplishment and the joy of fixing something as a team which was commendable. When the 6 of them were struggling to find the leak, I was admiring them with awe. I wish I could work with them as they made a wonderful team. Without anyone giving directions one guy was holding the tyre, the other was pouring soap water on it, the third was wiping off the water, the fourth was marking the leak with a pen, the fifth giving directions and the sixth observing the bubbles with a fine eye. It was joyous to see them giving each other a high five and celebrating the victory with tea and cigarettes.  Passion personified..

Day before yesterday (5th April 2010) – I was in the US consulate at Chanakyapuri, New Delhi to appear for my Visa interview. There were almost 200 people at morning 9 am. Only 5 Visa officials to interview them, however the kind of commitment and concern each of those officials showed to each of the aspirants was commendable. It was not before a couple of hours that my turn came for the interview. I spent these hours observing the interview discussions. It was good to see an official trying to help out an old couple who were partially deaf. An interview which lasts for 5 minutes took them 45 but finally they got their visas and boy were they happy. Saw fraudsters trying to push their way in the US and how methodologically and politely they were denied. Saw a telephone lines man apply for a visa – this bloke lived in the ‘Rashtrapati Bhawan’ – the official took off her glasses and asked again. The guy confirmed with a smile. Did he get his visa.. lol yes ! What was really overwhelming was the kind of passion and commitment to each aspirant the officials showed. They became part of their lives for those few minutes and shared their ups and downs if the aspirants wanted to. Not a wrinkle on the forehead but all smiles. It’s a tough job – doing it for 8-9 hours daily and keeping that good spirit. Hats off..

Too passionate, eh?

It’s so good to see people finding solace in things other than money. Those puncture guys were so happy – not for those 60 bucks but for the priceless ‘feel good factor’. The visa officials – after every aspirant, they swigged coffee, took a deep breath, smiled to themselves and were ready – “Good morning Sir/Maám – How are you doing today?”- boy if some one was not doing good, I bet they would after speaking to them.

Karo yaar.. jo bhi karo dil se karo – warna mat karo.. I guess it’s better to sleep by knowing you’ve made a pleasant difference to lives rather than with pots of mulaah under your pillow.

Cheers,

Anupam

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