The Sula Vineyard restaurant was dimly lit. As I entered, I couldn't spot my already seated family easily. Landing on my chair, I noticed a group of about 12 men, colleagues in their mid-40s on a Night-Out in the vineyard, seated next to us on two joined tables. With 5-6 wine bottles already down, they had plenty to share and gossip about.
However, there was a problem. They were loud, really loud. My spouse, who asked for a quieter table, was informed that the group was about to leave. Moments later, to our disappointment, couple of them ordered more dishes and their party continued. Soon some more groups and families trouped in and the place was now super vibrant (noisy?). By then, we had also adjusted our ear drums to high decibels.
As the cacophony was about to reach next level, suddenly a deathly hush fell over the place. One of the men in the loud group, a Sikh, instinctively pushed his chair back hard and sprang up. The waiter just froze in his place. The well-dressed manager turned speechless and confused. Finding his friend standing in the midst of eerie-silence, one of the men from the group, who was loitering outside, walked in menacingly. Other guests, including us, had their eyes popping out and glued at the scene waiting for the next expected action to unfold.
The waiter had spilled finger bowl water all over the Sikh. No one uttered anything for few seconds. That's when the Sikh looked into the waiter's eyes and said something - something abnormal for that situation, "Gentleman, I am alright. I am fine. Don't worry." Turning back to his friends, he spoke thus, "Come on guys, mistakes happen. When we work, mistakes do happen. It is normal." The menacing friend stopped in his steps. The waiter rushed to grab a cloth napkin. The manager pulled another chair. The guests turned to resume their dinner.
What a sigh of Surprise!! Moment of Choice, Presence of Mind and Profound Impact!! Awesome!!
However, there was another surprise in store for him. Minutes later, a stranger walked up to the group interrupting their now-again animated discussion. "Excuse me gentlemen". Everyone looked up except the Sikh who had his back to the stranger. "Excuse me sir", the stranger repeated tapping his shoulder. The Sikh, visibly taken aback, turned around. The stranger continued, "Sir, I want to commend you on the way you reacted and responded to the incident. It was exceptional, graceful and respectful. I loved it and was inspired by your conduct."
We wished each other good night and I proceeded to my hotel. Walking back, I couldn't ignore the bounce in my steps. He also would surely have slept a happy and peaceful night. Our brief interaction will inspire and encourage us both for rest of our lives. And it may rub off on others too who were part of that eventful evening, physically. Or through this post!!
Weeks later, we were in the Town of Strawberries, Mahabaleshwar (India). Strange enough, in our one full day's stay thus far, we hadn't tasted even a single one. As we entered the lunch area in the hotel, all our three kids went wild. There was an unattended box of strawberries on our lunch table (probably hand-picked). I tried to explain that it wasn't ours. But who cared?
I quickly called the waiter to inquire about the box. Before I could ask, a heavy voice ordered him, "Mr., open the box, empty it out on a plate and hand over the strawberries to kids." As I turned around, the man addressed the kids, "Kids, now they are yours. Eat them and have fun." Soon the kids were biting into the pink fruit, blissfully ignoring my pleas to at least say thank you. The man and his family were smiling. For next 5 minutes, I gestured toward their happy faces at least 3 times as our friends trickled in curious at the sight of strawberries.
That evening, the couple would celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary and share the cake with kids and us!!
-Life is lived in moments, not days. Definitely not years!!