go light one

The other day while waiting for my daughter at a gas station in Makati, a woman approached me and offered ‘chicharon’ and ‘otaaps.’ I shook my head and smiled a “no.” “The ‘otaaps,” she said, “go well with coffee, Sir!” I smiled and shook my head again.

Pit Bulls & Entrepreneurs (2010)

The difference between Pit Bulls and Entrepreneurs is that, sometimes, Pit Bulls can give up.

And, as she walked away the simplicity in her approach and the clarity of her voice made me take a second glance. She seemed to be in her early 50s. She was holding a few packs of snacks in her hand while a bag hung at her side. She was dressed in black pants and a fuchsia-colored, long-sleeved top. Her hair was dark with strands of white and it was cut shoulder length. She was dark-skinned, looked thin and work-weary. All in all, I surmised, she could be mother who was probably a former, office-worker. Her English was crisp and not accentuated or diluted.”The otaaps go well with coffee, Sir!” She’d said in perfect English.

I was tempted to call her and buy some, but then I hate ‘chicharons’ with a passion and apologies to the Lapid Family of the Philippines. I like ‘otaaps’ but I’d just seen some videos of myself speaking, and my silhouette had a bulge around the middle. Otaaps are made of flour, sugar, margarine and more sugar. No way!

Then I wondered why is it that I wanted to buy when in the first place I’d turned her away? I realized that I’d just become curious as to why and how had a mother-looking, seemingly well-educated woman in her fifties had to peddle snacks so late in the evening. Then I thought I won’t buy but just call her back and have a chat with her. That too, did not seem like a good idea on a less-lightened corner of the gas station where I’d parked and was leaning against it waiting for my daughter. I let the moment pause and felt a breeze of sadness brush my face.

So, the whole incident is still alive in my mind a week later. The questions on my mind are: What kind of a world have we built? What kind of an economy do we live in? Why is that we haven’t evolved enough as a civilization where a woman in her fifties still has to struggle to survive? How many others are out there who haven’t been able to stay up in the ups and downs of life’s shenanigans?

The air of sadness still circles me. I know this doesn’t happen in the Philippines but may be happening in thousands of cities across the world. Perhaps someday the world will grow into such a place where lives don’t get wasted such. I am not claiming that she, the ‘otaap’ and ‘chicharon’ vendor, might be unhappy or dissatisfied with her life. I am just floating way up in the air and making an observation.Go Light One

A quote that rings through my mind as I type this is “When you see no light at the end of a dark tunnel, go light one.” I must confess that I barely do anything about the struggles of society and life besides making noise. I do know there are thousands and millions of individual and organization who do good and constructive things bit by bit and day by day. My hats off to all that you do such things and serve the world. Someday, I’ll join you or if you know of an opportunity or need a hand give me a buzz. The least I will do is hold the candle while you light it.

*Otaap: Fluffy, crunchy, sugar-coated cookie.

*Chicharon: Pork insides, dried and fried like chips.


Raju Mandhyan                                  

Keynote Speaker, Coach & Learning Facilitator

www.mandhyan.com, Communications & Leadership Training

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