Love Your Work…

By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC

An interesting story from our mythology: Arjuna once asked Krishna, “Lord, why do people consider Karna more generous than Yudhistira? Neither have refused whatever has been asked for irrespective of whoever has asked for it; so why is Karna considered greater than Yudhistira?

The Lord said with a smile, come, I will show you why?

Disguised as brahmins, they first go to Yudhistira’s court and ask for sandalwood sticks to conduct yagna.

Yudhistira immediately sent his soldiers to all parts of his kingdom in search of sandalwood sticks.

It was monsoon, trees were wet and the soldiers returned with wet sandalwood pieces.

Yagna was not possible with these wet pieces.

Krishna and Arjuna then proceeded to Karna’s court and asked for the same sticks.

Karna thought for a while and said, “as it is raining for several days now, it will be impossible to collect dry sandalwood sticks. But there is a way out! Please wait for a while.

Saying this Karna proceeded to cut down the doors and windows of the Palace which were made of sandalwood. And after cutting them into pieces, he gifted the dry sandalwood pieces to the Brahmins to conduct yagna. They accepted the offerings and went their way.

On their way back, Krishna asked Arjuna, “Do you realise the difference between the two?

Had we asked Yudhistira to give his doors and windows for us to conduct the yagna he would have given us the same without even blinking an eyelid. But he did not think of it himself.

We did not ask Karna either.

Yudhistira gave because that was his Dharma. Karna gave because he loved to give. This is the difference between the two and that is why Karna is considered great.

Whatever work you do, it becomes nobler when you do it with love.

We can work with different attitudes.

Someone asked you to do it.

As duty or as dharma or as Karna did, with lots of love for doing the job.

A simple folklore story; may be true or may not be either. But the message it carries is clear. One works “Paapi pet ka savaal hai” but if one works for the love of the job the result is always great. I often used to ask my superiors, what is the difference between a good chef and a gourmet chef? Simple. A gourmet chef works on the same dish with lots of love and the results are there for all to see. A simple dal or a vegetable made by a gourmet chef tastes heavenly. Of course, most of the so-called gourmet chefs have a secret ingredient, the name of which they never disclose or show.  

Whenever I talk on these kinds of subjects I am reminded of two individuals, who have left an indelible mark in my mind due to the love they had for their work.

During my training period at Ashoka Hotel, Bangalore, an Indo-Japanese girl [I have forgotten her name]  had joined as PA to the General Manger. She was educated in the famous Lovedales, Ooty and hence her english was impeccable.

We the management trainees had no qualms in getting our official letters vetted by her for corrections many a times.

Once she was typing a letter and after typing out the full page she realised that there was a single typing mistake in the middle of the letter. It was a very small mistake and I  asked her to overlook it and go ahead. Instead she tore the page and started to type again.

I asked her as to why she did it. Her answer, “Sir, this may be a small typing error but the man reading it will judge the efficiency of our company by this yardstick. My reputation as an efficient Secretary is also at stake and hence I cannot compromise.”

A lesson learnt which I carried on till the end of my career. A badly drafted letter or a letter with several typing mistakes normally used to indicate the worthlessness of the company and used to be normally thrown into the dustbin. I always asked my PAs to retype the whole letter even if there was a small error in the page.

I was also posted at Madurai Ashoka. We had a senior gardener Muthu, who was little hard of  hearing too but very efficient and hard working. Madurai is a dry and hot place and there is a perennial shortage of water. Good rains were seldom. Even then I noticed that the plants were all very healthy and well looked after. In spite of the shortage of water, I had seen him talk several times with his plants.  Monologue.

My first year of posting, it started to rain at about 10 pm. As I peeped out of my window, I saw Muthu rushing towards the hotel in his cycle. Curious, I went out of my door and watched as to what he was doing so late. He parked his cycle, ran inside the reception area and single-handedly started to keep all the potted plants outside the portico so that they could get the  rainwater. At 10 pm ! These kinds of exemplary acts inspire others too. Next day, he went about his business as usual without even bothering to inform anyone concerned about his night visit.  

Recently I was watching the kbc and was fascinated by the story of Dr. Prakash Amte and his doctor-wife to shun the life of luxury, living in a forest with no electricity and basic needs, amongst tribals who would not speak or understand  Marathi or Hindi. The couple just wanted to improve the conditions of the people living there and so decided to live with them. What is their motivation ? Love for their work? I call them “God’s special messengers.”

To conclude, no job is small but if done with love, it shows up.  Do you agree ?

[ananthballal@gmail.com]

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