Like every Diwali (the festival of lights and a long weekend for most) everyone at Vinove was looking forward to a day of fun and revelry. It was more special since we were a larger number than the last year. With a 100% growth in manpower it was going to be great to have extra hands to engage in our most popular activity “decoration of our cubicles”. As always, we were eagerly waiting for the missive from the HR team containing the schedule for the day. A few of us had also decided on the color scheme for the rangoli. However, the mail from the HR team came as a pleasant surprise. Unlike the previous years, this year there was a proposal to celebrate Diwali in an Orphanage that is home to children who are mentally challenged or who belong to the economically weaker strata. “But what about the decoration”, asked a few inquisitive ones. To answer these and other such questions, the mail further explained that this was a voluntary trip and the non-participants could go on to decorate their cubicles (there was a collective sigh of relief).
The response took the HR team by surprise. Everybody in the office wanted to participate. The response was so overwhelming that the HR Team had to restrict the participants, and the team leads were designated to recommend the names of the participants. After all there were a few people needed to decorate the cubicles too, reasoned the HR team. Rakesh was deliberately left behind to ensure that the kids do not get scared by his bulging arms and bushy eyebrows.
After collating the names of the participants, the Admin team got down cracking. They went and compiled a list of items, which the authorities of the orphanage wanted assistance with. All these items were sourced by funds gathered from contributions from our employees and the Office Funds. The response was so encouraging that we ended up giving more than the actual requirements.
The Admin team worked out the modalities, and the last working day before Diwali weekend, was stipulated for the visit. On the designated day we were ready and the excitement was palpable. We joked with Manish to behave lest he be mistaken for one of the residents, and detained. We all trooped into the designated vehicles and were on our way.
After some confusion on the way (thanks to the chaotic Delhi traffic), we reached the venue, just a few minutes late. We were greeted by a clamor caused by continuous banging of steel plates. Mr.Anupam, the Manager of the orphanage, explained the cacophony to us. He told us that the clocks in the stomach of the children triggered this phenomenon, and this was how the kids expressed their displeasure, if the food was not served on time. He further explained that the clocks in their tummies were always on time (such precision could put any watchmaker to shame).
Without wasting any more time, we got down to business. As we entered the room we were greeted with cheerful namaste. It was amazing to see the discipline amongst the children (with an average of 4 years). Each of them knew the order in which they would be served and there was no snatching or fighting (as could be expected by such toddlers).
The only snatching witnessed was between Sanjeev and Shyam (our team members), as both of them wanted to bet he first to serve Pooris!! Thankfully this was promptly resolved.
It was a pleasure to serve the children and heartening to see the participation of our team in this endeavor. Ankit was struggling to convince a kid to eat first and drink water later, while Deepti tried to use her charm to persuade a kid to eat first and talk later, but failed. Ankit won but Deepti lost. Ankit-2 (yes, there are two of them), got so engrossed with the kids that he started to throw tantrums when we were to leave!!
After the meal, we were taken around the premises and also visited the section which houses the critically ill children. It was poignant to see these children, but heartening to see that they were being looked after well by the attendants. The compassion with which the children were being looked after was indeed commendable. The surroundings were clean and impeccable, and any violations of toilet training were promptly cleaned!!
The highlight of the day was the performance by the tiny tots (from the mentally challenged wing), who presented a well orchestrated dance performance. A big round of applause was followed by distribution of gifts that we had brought for them. Manju (our Systems Analyst) grudgingly presented a doll to a young girl (I suspect Manju wanted to keep it for herself).
After spending a few hours with the kids, it was finally time to wave the kids goodbye. Hugs and kisses were exchanged with the kids and we thanked Mr. Anupam for giving us the opportunity to visit their establishment. As we trooped out, I noticed that Manish was also coming with us (thank God he had not been detained).
All of us reached the office in time to resume decorating our cubicles, followed by other events.
As we reminisced about the trip, we were unanimous in our admiration for the unsung heroes-The staff of the orphanage who go on discharging their duties without being acknowledged for such selfless service. Hats off to them indeed.
The visit was indeed very humbling for all of us and it left us wondering if all the material gains that we chase all the time are worth the effort. After seeing the kids so content being in the First Level of Maslow’ need, our pursuit of Esteem needs appears flippant.
This awakening did not however, deter us from going ahead and participating in the cubicle decoration contest!!
As a fall out of this trip, each one of us has requested the HR team to arrange such nobel outings more often. I am sure that the next mail from the HR inviting the names of participants for such an event, would lead to a server failure, what with the entire organization volunteering for it.