-by KParthasarathi Saturday, October 20, 2007
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Ramalingam and Srinivasulu were the President and Secretary of the committee managing the Sri RadhaKrishna temple. It was a small temple on a spacious plot of land on the outskirts of a city in the middle of a large colony of houses and apartments. The plot was donated by a rich Marwari businessman. The temple met the spiritual needs of the people with daily puja and celebration of important festivals. The number of devotees was swelling day by day. The management of the temple had an ambitious plan of having a school, an auditorium and a building for conducting auspicious functions by the residents of the colony. The budget was a whopping Rs.73 lakhs to be spent in stages based on the donations received. There was a big collection drive for donations.
One industrialist had assured sizable amount towards the construction of a school but could not give them time for appointment during the last two months as he was very busy outside the country. After several efforts, they were asked to meet him at the corporate office at 7pm on a particular day. The duo reached the place leisurely at 7.15pm.There was none in the 7th floor office except one person pacing from one end to the other in the front hall that opened onto a large office. There was a big room adjacent to the hall, presumably the industrialist’s office and a large conference hall adjoining it. That person in his early thirties darkish in complexion and small built was clad in an ordinary trouser and full sleeve shirt. Ramalingam told him that they had an appointment with the industrialist and asked him whether the sahib was inside the room. The man instead of replying asked them when the appointment was due and who they were.Srinivasulu showing a disinterest to reply the question told him to announce to his boss the arrival of the President and the Secretary of the Radhakrishna temple.
He quietly took them inside the large room and asked them to be seated while he sat in the large plush red leather upholstered chair opposite to them. Shell shocked both were as they expected to see the industrialist in a rich three piece suit and tie. They never visualized such a simple person without any airs owning a very large corporate group.
He broke the silence saying “I have been waiting for you since 7PM. Today being Saturday the staff had left. I have an important meeting elsewhere at 7.45PM and I was anxious to give the donation today itself.
Embarrassed at their foolishness in mistaking the industrialist for a staff member , they profusely apologized for their indiscretion and regretted their failure to respond properly when he asked who they were.
The industrialist ignored their explanations and said” Appearances are always deceptive. Never judge a man by his apparel. Secondly, you are seeking donation for building a school with a view to bring up children with right values. I think being punctual in all things that one does is an important lesson to be instilled in the children. You must be aware that nothing inspires confidence in a business man sooner than punctuality. By being punctual you show that you care and respect the other man’s time”
The two were speechless as he pulled out a cheque from the side drawer of the mahogany table. ” Here is a cheque for Rs. 10 lakhs as my humble contribution. I hope you will keep me informed about the progress of the project that is scheduled to be over by March. Please keep proper accounts and come back to me if you need more. “He stood up and waved his hand before abruptly leaving the office to keep his time for the next meeting.
"Promptitude is not only a duty, but is also a part of good manners; it is favourable to fortune, reputation, influence, and usefulness; a little attention and energy will form the habit, so as to make it easy and delightful." - Charles Simmons