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To Give or To Get

“Congratulations on your elevation. The cream always rises to the top.” – A few years ago, this was the message received by an officer from a well-wisher.

He responded, “Thanks for the wishes. As far as being the cream, I’d rather be the sugar instead.”

What would you like to be?

According to an interesting but apocryphal legend, in the 7th century a fleet of ships carrying people who had fled Persia due to the change of regime, arrived on the western shores of India. They were looking for a place to settle and make their new home.

Since they spoke a different language, the king of a small state sent his emissary with a glass of milk filled to the brim to communicate to the visitors that he had no space in his kingdom for more people.

The head of the fleet poured a spoon full of sugar in the glass of milk and sent it back to the king of the Indian state. The king was first amused at the returned glass of milk but then he tasted it. His face lit up realizing that the message from the visitors was, “We will mix with your people and integrate into your community just like sugar mixes in milk and makes it sweeter.”

And how true were they to their word? The Zoroastrians or Parsis as they are known in India, is a community of 100,000 in a country of one billion people. Their contributions to industry, art, science and literature are disproportionately tremendous. Just to mention a few Parsis: Zubin Mehta world famous conductor, The Tata family- founded many industries and Air India, Homi Bhabha the founder of India’s Nuclear Program, Dadabhoy Navroji- a co-founder of modern India in Gandhi’s team, Members of the Godrej family- industrialists, and so many more…

I guess it takes only a small amount of sugar (0.01% of the population) to add a lot of sweetness to the large pot of milk.

Addressing a group of exchange students who were to spend a year abroad with foreign families, I found most of them had great plans on what they were going to get out of the experience, but hardly anyone mentioned what they were going to offer as part of this exercise.

Each of us will be remembered for not what we take, but what we give.

We fondly recollect our associations with people, groups and organizations from whom we have received and they too will remember us for what we have contributed. The trigger may be to receive but you can’t receive till you give and whoever sweetens the cup rises to be the cream.

Posted in: Celebrations, Festival, Festivals, India

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