I was at a Barista (Connaught Place) today to meet someone and I saw something which was really touching. Not referring to the sadhu who was sitting near a table next to mine, wearing Armani spectacles and chugging pricey Himalayan spring water. (I would’ve taken a snap but I figured that in case he did have a terrible wrath I did not want to end up as a pile of smouldering ashes.) Maybe he misses the kind of water he generally gets ‘back home’. Our ancient religious texts – given that the people writing them were [so-called] seers – should have foreseen the oncoming march of Armani and coffee shops and added them to The List Of Things Thou Shalt Have To Give Up When You Become An Ascetic. That was odd; you often run into cuckoo people at coffee shops. For instance, another guy who walked in with a camera tripod and a huge guitar amp. We may presume that he’s some sort of rock photographer, pending further information.
There, see? I sidetracked again from what I wanted to share. OK, so my main point was the counter guy at the shop. He was – to put it the blunt, old-fashioned way (since I’m not aware of the what’s the kosher, ‘politically correct’ term for it these days) – deaf and mute. All the other support staff were conversing with him in sign language. This dude was deftly handling orders coming in – ‘listening’ to what the order was in sign language – and going about preparing those orders.
‘Affirmative action‘ gets brought up at times, mostly around the budget when the government is urging companies to take ‘corporate social responsibility‘ (CSR) seriously. It would seem that more often than not CSR gets relegated to departmental memo, or a best a photo-op for the CSR mini-site on their corporate site. Rarely do you get to see – with your own eyes – what CSR steps a company may be taking. Obviously, it must have cost Barista money to train its staff (at least in this particular cafe) to understand sign language – and yet it’s heartening to know that companies do go ahead and perform actions out of general goodwill. Seriously, please let’s not get cynical here. You can make as many conspiracy theories you want that their “objective was to see exactly this kind of blog post to provide viral publicity”, but at the end of the day a company did make at least some effort towards affirmative action.
Rarely does one feel really good about actions being taken by corporates. Some of them are genuinely into full-on philanthropy – like Bill Gates did. I might not be a Microsoft fan and I still say Gates, Ballmer & Co have used sneaky tactics to gain monopoly, but I have a lot of respect for Bill Gates in the regard that despite becoming the richest man in the world, he did not hoard the money – instead, he donated (and still donates) hundreds of millions of dollars of his personal wealth for various social welfare projects across the globe. Naysayers can say all they want about the monetary value being a fraction of what he has earned, but at least he did donate that fraction – and it’s still quite a lot of money!
On a slightly related note, I would also like to say that in an effort to make terms politically correct ultra-liberals go a bit too far. Differently-abled. I mean, seriously? What’s wrong with ‘persons with disabilities’? People with disabilities need acceptance, not an overdose of protectiveness. Now don’t get me wrong, er, what I mean is something along this lines.
(Now that I included a South Park reference, people would be expecting me to include a Douglas Adams quote to come full circle and reinforce the Ankur = 42 = lolz stereotype. Sorry to disappoint you guys. I don’t think DNA said anything on this.)