Being Gentle

I started buying music recently! I felt it was about time and I had the resource to support my favourite artists. My first purchase was an album from a band name “Soulmate” from Shillong, India. They are the torch bearers of the blues movement in India. The lead guitarist and vocalist are phenomenal! Followed by Hugh Laurie’s(House MD?) debut album. Yes Hugh Laurie!

But this post is not about my new found virtue. I needed CDs for my car stereo. And like always, opportunity presented itself as an email from a guy at office who wanted to sell his CD collection.

I replied back with the names of artists I was interested in and also mentioned my general taste of music. We setup an appointment to meet in the office cafeteria. I walked into the cafe at the designated time and saw a guy sitting with a bag on his lap. He greeted me immediately and I took a seat right infront of him. He stared right at me with his deep blue eyes and we spoke about music. We had several common interests: The Beatles, Radiohead, Simon & Garfunkel. He had great interest in indian fusion, tabla, sitar and followed works by some Indian artists.

After a very enjoyable conversation for almost 20 minutes, he smiled and said he was very pleased to meet me and that hes happy to sell his part of his collection to me. I was genuinely impressed by him and asked him how he knew about Indian music. He replied back saying that he is a Jazz musician himself and plays the guitar and keyboard. And as he said that he pulled two big stacks of CDs from his black bag with such precision and placed them on the desk infront of me. The CDs looked almost brand new except for a white label on each one of them. It was Braille! I looked up and noticed those deep set blue eyes were not real. I handed him the money and graciously accepted the CDs. I had just concluded business with someone who is full time employee in my (a software) company,  a jazz musician and blind from both eyes.

As I walked back to my cube holding the stack, I was slightly dazed by the whole experience. A part of me was thrilled to own, among other things, an original collection of 12 Beatles CDs. The other part, was still in the cafeteria sitting front of that blind musician – watching him pull out CDs from his bag, reading the CD labels with his fingertips and stacking them neatly on the table.

The Covers of the CDs were old and showed signs of age and use but the CDs themselves were pristine. It made me think about that blind man’s gentle touch. If someone in his situation could preserve something that is so easy to get scratched all this while, what does it say about the rest of us? It reminded me of my younger days when my grandfather would be furious when I carelessly dropped my schoolbag on the floor, or placed the glass on the wooden dinner table too hard, spoke too loud, or flung myself onto the chair too hard. Being gentle was a virtue which had to be practiced and reflected in every aspect of ones conduct. Being gentle would preserve the shine on everything you touch. It will enhance the shine one certain things that you can never touch and often times, cant never even see. Like the self esteem of someone in need of help, the spirit of someone who lost to you, the admiration people have for you, the honest curiosity of the young ones, the genuine concern of friends, or the unconditional love of your parents.

This blog post has been in my draft for a while and I was waiting for my thoughts to settle down. Unfortunately, for me and many others in my company, today was his last day at work. In his final message he urged fellow engineers who build products, to always have in mind those, who were not blessed with all five senses.

I think I have found a new dimension that will shape my vision when engineering new products in the future. I hope he can show the way to many more people who have eyes, but are still blind.