She sat with her friend in a well-known coffee shop near Venice, Italy, the city of lights and water. As they enjoyed their coffee, a man entered and sat at an empty table beside them. He called the waiter and placed his order saying, “Two cups of coffee, one of them for the Wall.”
She heard this order with great interest and observed that he was served with one cup of coffee but he paid for two. When he left the waiter put a piece of paper on the wall saying, ‘A Cup of Coffee’.
Two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee. They had two but paid for three and left. This time also the waiter did the same; he put a piece of paper on the wall which read, ‘A Cup of Coffee’.
It was something unique and perplexing for the observers, who finished their coffee, paid the bill and left.
After a few days, they happened to go to this coffee shop again. They saw a poorly dressed man enter. As he seated himself he looked at the wall and said, “One cup of coffee from the Wall.”
The waiter served coffee to this man with the customary respect and dignity. The man had his coffee and left without paying. The waiter took one piece of paper off the wall and threw it in the trash bin.
Now the matter was very clear. The great respect for the needy shown by the inhabitants of this town made all eyes well up with tears.
Think about the need of this man. He entered the coffee shop without having to lower his self-esteem; he had no need to ask for a free cup of coffee; he did not need to know who was gifting this cup of coffee to him. He just placed an order for himself, enjoyed his coffee and left.
My dear readers, good Samaritans are not found in Venice alone. In Mumbai the trusted dabba wallahs, people who distribute lunch to office goers, have begun the Share Campaign. Anyone who has a sufficient amount of food left in his lunch box sticks a red SHARE sticker on his box. The system is so efficient that thousands of boxes with the ‘Share’ sticker are separated and their contents neatly transferred to containers brought by volunteers.
The food is then distributed to street children and hungry labourers.
As the world becomes a busier place and we get caught up in the race to excel,we often forget that mankind has the word ‘kind’ in it. Wrapped up in our needs, our life, our next new purchase we never lift our heads or pause to look around and notice those who are less fortunate than we are. We all feel that it is someone else's duty to help, not ours.
Lending a helping hand does not mean we have to renounce our life to serve the poor, only true saints like Mother Teresa and Baba Amte have it in them to do this. It implies that we become sensitive to the needs of the needy and step out just that little bit to help. We do not become so self-centred and always think, ‘What about me?’ Instead we think, ‘What can I do? How can I contribute, how can I make this world a better place?’
Sharing is not just about picking up something material, which we do not need and doling it out. We need to carefully watch what we are sharing. Our words, our listening skills, our time and much more.
Our words: Are we careful about the words we share? When we talk with others what are we sharing? Is there meaning and purpose in what we are saying? Do we believe in what we share, or are we just gossiping, discussing TV and wasting time?
Listening: Are we open to receiving what others share? Do we listen to other people’s problems, their ideas, their thoughts? Or do we just wait to add our own stories, interrupting their sentence?
Sharing is a willingness to give what we have to another person who may need the things we have to offer. Dear readers, let us just once share something; our food, clothing, household goods, toys and books or our ideas, skills and time. Let us try sharing without expecting anything in return. Yes, I can guarantee there will be a reward – tremendous joy, the feel good factor, a sense of purpose, these will be our priceless reward.