Guldasta

A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

The Constant Ambassador January 19, 2010

Filed under: ego,Ethics and Values,India,Inspiration,Me — gurdas @ :

That is what we are. Constant Ambassadors to what is outside of us. From what is inside of us – our self, genders, faiths, nationalities, and race to name a few. When you talk to the barista, or the waitress, or the bus driver, do not take your words or actions lightly. Because you represent not just a stranger. You represent yourself. Your smile and kind words would be remembered. Your heartfelt “thank you” would make somebody’s day. The Universe is keeping score, even if you are not.

And it always comes back. Yes, you reap what you sow. So keep your seeds top class. And water faithfully.

So I am from India. And I am a Sikh. And I am a man. That is three full time jobs. And I take each responsibility very seriously. And the ambition is sky high. Every person I cross paths with, must remember me as a gentleman, a thinking, loving, compassionate, and respectful human. And when they see any of my kind, may they proclaim welcome with a smile because I left them with one.

Too often we are consumed by petty short sightedness. How easy it is to be rude thinking the other person does not matter because you do not expect to run into them ever again. And then we wonder why someone was rude to us without reason. It is simple. Most of the time strangers are rude because someone like us was rude to them in the past. Imagine this; you meet a Mexican (or Indian or American or Chinese, whatever) woman who was very kind to you. She helped you with directions or offered to jump start your car or let you cross the road first with a smiling wave. What will you feel when you see a similar person again? Can you feel anger or hatred? NO! Your mind will race back to the pleasant experience from the past and you will at least make an effort to be nice.

I occasionally encounter stereotyping. Oh, so you are an Indian, so you must be so and so. Why? Partly because of the ignorance of the other person, the danger of a single story (from this talk by Chimamanda Adichie), and partly because they may have had one or two experiences that confirmed their stereotype image of an Indian. But what if every single Indian they meet breaks that stereotype? How long before they correct their image? Not very I’d say.

Our actions are what we bequeath to our children. I’d say we strive to leave them a world full of loving strangers.

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9 Responses to “The Constant Ambassador”

  1. harman Says:

    so true !
    I have been through a similar experience that left an impression on my mind about that city; after that i became a brand ambassador and told everyone that people of sandusky are really nice and helpful because a lady helped us find our way back.

    This applies to even local sterotyping among the countrymen, a north indian, a mumbaikar… this hurts.
    Let us try to be just human first !

  2. Nandini Rao Says:

    Absolutely true, You can never generalize.

  3. Deepanjan Says:

    Love is by default, a natural emotion that doesn’t need the push of logic…though somewhere deep down it still adds up. Love is innate.
    It’s only hatred that calls for a lot of ‘learning’…and boy do we learn well!

    • gurdas Says:

      Deeps, while I would love to believe what you say, I don’t think it works that way (rhyme!). Love might be default emotion, but I’d say it won’t go far, or worse, might go astray without logic.

  4. Joyeeta Says:

    …donno why or how but for some reason, I have never been very observant of someone’s nationality and/or characteristics peculiar to them (unless I am told). But even after that, I dont pay much attention to a person but the ‘situation’ we are in at any given time. And I remember or forget/forgive someone based upon how he/she acted/behaved, given a difficult or a not so difficult situation.
    Hopefully I am not talking out of context here.

  5. gurdas Says:

    Joyee, you make an important point, but yes, it is a little out of context 🙂

    My post is not so much about compartmentalisation or identification based on differences, but identification based on similarities. And between the words is the advice that we need to be respectful and kind at all times. I use the idea of identity as one means to make my point.

    And sometimes it is a very important thing. Take me as an example: my college is split into two campuses and on what is called Main Campus I am probably the only turban wearing Sikh amongst about 24000+ other students. Every single day I get curious glances. I have a very high recall factor with people because of my very unique dress! They don’t know I am a Sikh, but they will surely draw a similarity the next time they see another turban wearing Sikh. When they do that, I would like them to remember a past nice experience with me.

    It is about the small gestures that create good memories and so, in this regard, “do sweat the small stuff — and it’s all small stuff”, with apologies to Richard Carlson for reversing his fantastic book’s title.

  6. Driving is the Great Equalizer, isn’t it?

    It tests our metal: just how good are we, really?

    Sometimes, I’m ashamed of my behavior behind the wheel irregardless of race, gender, or status.

    ~Lavanna

  7. gurdas Says:

    Lavanna, you are so right. Driving allows us to be monsters without fear of chastisement. And one could almost guarantee that a person whose driving is respectful and “generous” will be a constant ambassador in other spheres. I live around a university campus and the first thing I noticed on my arrival (and very gladly adopted) was to always give way, specially to pedestrians. The joy one gets from having people wave back a “thank you!” when you graciously give them the right of way. Free gifts!


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