Mr Li Pong and his world of smile and patience

Posted: March 19, 2014 by Ankur in Writes...
Tags: ,

As I was trying to park my car, I banged into a Wagon-R.  Realizing the damage to be huge, I prepared myself to face the consequence. In Delhi a defaulter has to go through a series of verbal abuses before finally paying for the actual damage. The frequency and tune of abuses sometimes varies depending upon the appearance and attitude of the stakeholder.

“It’s ok, don’t worry, there is only a minor brush….Chill,” the owner of the Wagon-R came smiling towards me. “My visit to the workshop is due, I shall get it repaired next week,” said the owner introducing himself as Mr Li Pong from Meghalaya, after which he shook hands with me and left. For a while I could not believe my eyes and ears. I entered my home relaxed and confused unable to come in terms with what I had experienced…a rare kind of behaviour.

A week later I met Mr Li Pong again during our morning walk; we greeted each other and kept walking together. I enquired if his car was repaired, to which he smiled and replied “if for every minor scratch, I run to a workshop, I would never afford to enjoy my life”. Mr Pong was recently posted to Delhi, and like me he too works for a PSU. It was his first posting in a metro city and he had apprehension shifting to Delhi. But finally he found three factors in favour of the city: health care, children’s education and PVR theatre – he enjoys masala Hindi movies.

While walking through the park, joggers and walkers greeted him. Just when I was wondering how come an outsider knew most of the people, a bunch of children cheered up upon seeing him. It was his football team, mostly street children. He said goodbye to me and soon got engrossed in the game. There was hardly any space but it was enough for the 12 odd footballers to sweat it out. Mr Li looks like a footballer himself with a height of around 5 feet 10 inches, muscular and without moustache like any other guy from the North-east.

In the next few days we became quite friendly. I started observing him very closely, the way he smiled, talked to people and his way of approaching any issue. He was a very ordinary guy in the neighbourhood, but I must admit he emitted positivity from every part of his body. While driving he would prefer to wait rather than honk. From watchman to the rag picker he would address them by name and they reciprocated accordingly. He always carried his smile and patience with him and surprisingly he succeeded in solving all his issues with his  two ‘priceless weapons’.

One fine day I asked him how can he be so nice and still manage to push ahead with his way in a city like Delhi. He responded smilingly “when you are new to a place or an organization, people consider you to be a threat and treat you in an unusual manner”. He continued “But when you behave with them in a polite manner, they assume, too much of good behaviour can only come from a weak person and that’s when their fear drops down”. Mr Li went on elaborating “once you succeed in erasing the element of threat from their mind, the same people will unknowingly agree/surrender to whatever you say”. He concluded “I prefer to be weak and happy rather than to be strong and unhappy”…..It’s all about our choice and perception.

I started practicing the magical formula of smile and patience. I found that the technique works well. One day I was forced to park my car  few yards away from my house ( in Lajpat Nagar all cars are parked on the road). A lady came yelling at me “this is our space, don’t you have a brain, where will we park our motorcycle”. More than the words it was her tune which irritated me. I smiled, but she continue with her verbal gun shots! I smiled again (I must say it was tough) but she continued. Finally when she stopped, I explained to her that I stayed on the other side of the road and if she really wanted I was ready to remove my car. I tried to convince her saying that being her neighbour we were like a family as it is in the case of a small town from where I came. Further, I explained to her that she can count on me for any kind of help even if it was at midnight. She stared at me for a while, asked my house number and allowed me to park my car. Since then, I never had any problem parking my car.

In the second instance, a visitor’s car was parked in the slot reserved for our top floor tenant Mr Deepak. Deepak ji was a hot-headed guy and when he found his space to be occupied, he intentionally parked his car behind the visitor’s car. When the visitors finally got ready to depart, they could not take out their car. Our neighbours called Deepak ji to remove his car but to no avail. All that resulted was a big quarrel. The atmosphere was completely charged up and both parties started abusing each other. The visitors were four guys all in their mid-twenties. Mr Deepak dared them to do whatever they like but refused to remove his car and went back to his room. All this continued for around thirty minutes and I was a silent spectators to it, along with host of others. Finally, I called up Mr Li Pong. Incidentally Mr Li was out of station, however he listened to the problem and finally gave me an instant solution. According to his advice, I went to Mr Deepak’s room smiling, asked for the car key and volunteered to remove the car. Deepak ji could not refuse me. As the visitors left and the drama ended, my neighbours applauded me. I was given a celebrity status on that particular evening.

I am trying to follow the thumb rule for quite some time and found success on a few occasion. But I must confess that the process is very tough. If I succeed, I would be the happiest person. My perception of life is changing. Now, sometimes I carry a toffee or biscuit for the rickshaw wala who takes me to the metro station.  Last weekend he bought “am ka acchar” for me from his village in Bihar.

(The incidents narrated above are my real life experience, however the name Mr Li Pong is imaginary)

Abhijeet Bhattacharya
CSR, ONGC

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