Topic for the day is: Who is your greatest hero of all time?

I will continue to break with convention and name many, instead of one, heroes. Helps me by not having to choose one as well :)

Let’s start with my long time, and still, hero – Gandhi. Gave up his entire life, family, possessions and even, when required, the cause he’d been fighting for, for the sake of his beliefs. What he achieved made him a legend. What I admire him for, is how he achieved it.

Next up is Nelson Mandela. Spent over two decades at the prime of his adult life behind bars on an island while his supporters were brutally oppressed with an unrestricted use of force. What I admire him for is that after suffering such oppression, he had the calmness of mind and greatness of stature to pardon the oppressors and dream of a united nation.

He may be controversial and much derided by many, but Julian Assange is a hero for me. The shortcomings of his personality are trivial compared to the his belief in an open society based on freedom of information. The world we live in is one where powerful governments and corporations have strong rights to privacy while they intrude further into individuals’ private domains every day. That he had the vision, tools and courage to see this duality and challenge it is what makes him a hero for me.

I love cycling. I know how hard the small London hills are for me. I realise that most people do not finish a single Etape du Tour every year. And I know that winning 7 TdFs requires not just a strong body but a really strong mind and immense character. But that is not why he’s my hero. I admire Lance Armstrong for being a great cyclist and bringing cycling into such limelight. But he’s my hero for taking on cancer, beating it, and, most importantly, encouraging and supporting the world to beat back the disease.

They appear late in the list, but are the ones I admire most – my parents.
Ma, for working so hard, so many years, with that broken back, while raising us and taking care of her not-so-supportive in-laws.
Pa, for his ever cheerful spirit, his optimism against odds and his goodness of heart. A bit too good, at times, for his and our sake.
Both of them, for bearing with me through my rebellious, arrogant, stubborn years (still on). For never letting us feel a pinch while they cut back on everything to give us the best they could afford. For being there whenever we wanted them, even though we were not always there when they needed us. For having such a strong bond of love & trust. For giving me the spirit to go for what I wanted. For being my biggest inspiration.

Last, but never the least – those common, faceless people who keep our world running. The tube drivers, the bus drivers, the cops, the cabbies, the street cleaners, the drivers, the Charlie who grits the side-walk every time there’s a chance of snow or ice, the Kusum who use to calmly clean the house while we slept, the shack workers who threatened off eve teasers and even the the security guard who shares a kind word and warm smile every time he sees me pass by, the ski instructor who dove into freezing river to save 20 odd people, the soldiers who drove of the invaders but didn’t cross behind them because the orders said so… While the leaders – corporate, political, military and community – get the accolades, my heroes are these every day people who keep things working to make our lives better, easier and more secure.

So, there. Those are some of my heroes – some having had a bigger influence on me, some more celebrated, some even hated and others barely known – and I look up to all of them.



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