Patel Basappa, Krishnappa & lessons in humanity

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: Very recently we read about an incident in our City where a software engineer who sought shelter from sudden rain under the balcony of a building was dealt with rudely by the house owner and driven away. This resulted in outraged people of the area pelting stones at the building in disgust and creating a minor law and order problem for a brief while.

While it certainly seems like a very unusual kind of reaction from the building owner I am not very surprised because there will always be some people who are unusually circumspect with the tendency to see everyone around them with a suspicious eye.

Such people simply refuse to accept the possibility that a person who has entered their premises under duress may just be another soul in distress and not someone with malicious intentions.

Soon after this report appeared, K.B. Ganapathy highlighted how in a show of unusual kindness a very ordinary person offered not only shelter but also a refreshing glass of buttermilk to an elderly stranger who happened to turn to his house for a glass of water after a long and exhausting walk.

It was only much later after this kind deed that the host discovered that his accidental guest was none other than the RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan who had got lost while on his morning walk during a visit to our city.

Most people, whether they are rich or poor, generally tend to be kind to strangers in distress they happen to meet. It is only a few very rare ones who tend to be otherwise and they should not influence our impressions of the goodness of our fellow human beings.


My late father while telling us about his school days used to always give the example of this inborn goodness that he had seen in an elderly gentleman of his era.

It appears he and his brothers used to walk to and from our estate to their school in the village located at a distance of about ten kilometers.

Somewhere in between there was the house of the village head who was known as Patel Basappa and many school children, especially during the summer months would stop and take rest on the masonry platform, popularly called ‘jagali’ which was in front of this house.

Whenever the children asked for a glass of water, Patel Basappa’s wife or mother would offer them freshly made buttermilk in large brass tumblers instead of plain water and this was not an occasional occurrence but a daily practice.

Although there was a small rivulet that they would wade through and cross every day on their way to school and back, the old man would warn them never to drink the river water as it would make them sick.

Every Saturday, which was the day of the village weekly shandy, the Patel would himself sit in his armchair with a cloth bag full of puffed rice and roasted gram (kadle-puri) and offer handfuls of it to the children on their way back from school.

This was an event all the children would gleefully look forward to and not one soul including the sick ones would miss school on Saturdays!


Many years ago when borewell digging rigs were not very common I happened to visit Chamarajanagar on my trusty Lambretta scooter to hire a rig to get a borewell dug in our estate.

It was a rather rainy day and on our way back it started raining rather heavily between Nanjangud and Mysore. I stopped and left my scooter at a house at Tandavapura telling the lady of the house that I would pick it up the next day and rode back to Mysore in the rig, sitting alongside the driver in his cabin.

When I went back by bus early the next morning to fetch my scooter I was pleasantly surprised to see it washed of all the mud and grime that it was plastered with from my wanderings of the previous day. Thanks to someone’s kindness it now stood sparkling clean.

When I approached the old lady who was now tending to her two goats and asked her who had washed my scooter she smiled and said that since it was looking very dirty she had fetched a pail of water from the well and done it herself. I did not know how to thank her for her concern and kind-heartedness.


On another occasion while I was doing my MD a friend who was newly-married and was visiting Mysore with his wife had borrowed my scooter for a few days to go round the city visiting friends and sight-seeing.

On the last day of their trip while they were returning from the Brindavan Gardens the scooter broke down and they had no other option late in the evening than to leave it at a house in Belagola village nearby. They returned to the city by bus and informed me the nature of the problem and also where they had left the scooter.

I went to Belagola early the next morning and as I used to always keep all the essential tools along with a spare spark plug, a headlamp bulb and a set of control cables in the tool compartment, I had it purring smoothly in just a few minutes time.

When I thanked Krishnappa, the owner of the house, and took leave of him, he and his wife Kamala would not let me go without having breakfast! They said that it was an honour for them to have three doctors visiting them in less than twenty four hours and pleaded with me to have just a couple of chapaties with some freshly ground coconut chutney.

Their simple fare was so good that I ended up having not two but four chapaties with dollops of butter melting on each one of them!

I told the couple that I was equally touched and honoured to be their guest and reassured them that they could approach me for any help with their health problems. Thankfully they seem to be bestowed with very good health as they never had an occasion to see me as my patients but still many people from Belagola and the nearby village of Hosa Anandur come to me, giving me their reference.

My good old Lambretta too; once my round-the-clock companion and my work horse that served me faithfully for more than thirty years without giving me any pain beyond a slightly broken front tooth from a fall, still remains with me, enjoying its retirement and my admiration!