When a new year begins, hope is always abundant in the air. And for many Bangaloreans, living with the reality of potholed roads, traffic jams, garbage and the 'dislikes', hope is still a non-existent road, but when many walk on it, it comes into existence.
When City Express decided the year-ender column, the idea was to capture hope of common people, who, in some way or the other, help us keep our own hopes alive. And there were no cut-offs. It was picking the woman standing in a crowded bus on her way home after work or tapping on the shoulder of the man next on duty. But reaching the common man, amidst whom we live, is not always easy, as we often discovered during the series. In places, he is stowed away, deep under bureaucratic red tape or is at the last rung of a organisational ladder that lords over access to him. And sometimes, he is just a willing face, happy to let you in on his life.
The idea was to identify lesser known people who have profound impact on us as a society. And what we came up with was an amazing array of lives, which as a routine, we would never have ever met. For team City Express, 'Unseen Faces' was indeed an attempt to hear the heartbeat of an ant or about listening to the great orchestra inside a speck...of listening to lives whom we never give a second look to...of telling the stories of people who had plenty to say, but no one ever heard.
Living inside their hopes, these were men and women, who have walked tall without anyone noticing them. City Express captured their lives in their unnoticed shell.
Like the life of Caravan driver, Somnath Ganesh. Even in the arc lights of Sandalwood, his story was never told. To hear him talk about the immense pleasure he derives in driving Shivarajkumar to his shooting locales was indeed a revelation of how small hopes can make all the difference. He said, "If given a chance, I would like to drive Anna Shivanna around the world in my caravan."
Unlike Ganesh, there are some unlikely places where people live their dream, but it is not very easy to get through. So when we wanted to find out what it was like to do Seva at a Gurudwara, protocols were protocols and it was indeed a struggle. Nevertheless, when we met Baltej Singh, a software engineer who does seva at the Gurudwara kitchen, every single morning, devoting his precious time to feed hundreds of worshipers and the needy, there were no qualms. "Doing seva is to work without selfishness," he had said.
Then there were the metro drivers. BMRCL had a strong umbrella barring reporters from speaking to anybody without proper protocol. It took a tough round of convincing the transport minister that it was not the metro but the life behind drivers that we wanted to cover. And when we met Nandeesh Kumar and Uma Devi, it was all worth it.
And meeting the shy MV Joseph, the ice cream server at Lakeview Milk Bar, was also an experience. His shy but humble nature made it difficult to get his side of his life, but when he said, "Life is like an ice cream, enjoy it before it melts", it did sum up his optimism.
Antony Anjee is always capturing the top leaders from around the world when they come to Raj Bhavan and he does not take the high esteemed job home. His humbleness was clear when he said, "When I reach home, I just whisper to myself, 'You are Antony Anjee and you remain'."
And then there was the railway announcer, K Venkateshwarlu, who got an opportunity to announce about his life and more than his ability to wield the mike, it was his razor sharp memory that surprised us. As the City Express photographer adjusted his lens to take the perfect shot, Venkateshwarlu exclaimed, "I know you. You were here few months ago, desperately trying to work out an emergency ticket."
Giving a face to the actual unseen, we got Rwitoja Mukherjee, whose job profile revolves around her ability to lend an ear to those in distress. And when she said, “Every person can find solutions to their own problem, we just facilitate that. I’m not a magician who can solve their problems, we help them empower themselves,” we knew, hers will be a good advice.
T Shakuntala had no recollection of the number of bodies buried in her backyard. A grave digger, her job is tough and it sometimes gets on to her. It is evident when she said, "There is grief, no matter how far you stand."
So as we wind up the year 2013, let us remind ourselves, through these few unseen faces, that to keep hope alive, we just have to take time to look around...how unseen men and women can make all the difference to our lives. And yes, hope floats, you don't need to learn to swim to get a slice of it.