Learning for Life: The spirit of St. Stanislaus

I was really looking forward to Sesquicenternary road race on 30-Sept 2012. I have been road running for many years and really enjoy the solitude that Bandra's empty streets offer at 5.30am. This was the first time I would actually run a race, even if an ex-students race. A brisk walk to the school background served as a warm up before the run. I was greeted with the background filled with kids from schools around Bandra of all shapes and sizes. There were the barefoot runners from St. Catherine's Home, Cardinal Gracias and Mahatma Gandhi Vidyamandir Bandra East to the well kitted boys and girls from the local schools.

All my illusions of a quick race and back home were soon forgotten when I encountered the festival like atmosphere at the ground. Thus began a long wait for our turn to run.  The races began from the Under 8's and ended with the Under 17's. Ours was slated to be the third last race. However it was time well spent as I was able to interact with the oldest participant Fr Joseph Prabu (Class of 1949) and many in between. All were impatient and eager to run. I also enjoyed the time interacting with the kids who were as eager as us to run.

Our over 40's 1K race eventually began at around 7.30 am and was over in a flash. It was astonishing to see Br. Conrad Fonseca (Class of 1957) sprint off with the younger guns till he ran out of steam. Fr Joseph Prabu ran and walked and completed the race, so did Fr Leo Soares even with his knee strapped up. It was astonishing to see Fr Juan hike up his cassock and start the run with us. A short 1K race calls for a sprint from start to finish. I made the mistake of staying at the back of the pack and there was no hope of catching any of the much younger runners. I consoled myself that I had passed many much younger runners along the way and this was my first competitive race at 51. I was even cheered "Come on Uncle" by a group of girls at the finish.

I decided that since I was at St. Stanislaus, I might as well visit Central Hindu Hotel (Balaji in its new avatar) and have an idli and filter coffee for old time’s sake. It is still the long narrow restaurant of old with everyone rubbing elbows and where no conversation is personal. After placing my order I noticed a group of four kids from Stanislaus who had also just completed the race. I did not know who they were but let's call them Abdul, Khalid, Vinay and Brendon. They looked like 5th or 6th standard boys as they studiously read  the menu looking for items who's cost matched the money in their collective pockets. Abdul was the obvious leader of the group as he suggested what they should order. He then ordered everyone to contribute Rs 30 each so that they could order between them 2 masala dosas, 1 punjabi samosa and one sada dosa. Brendon threw his hands up and said he did not have any money. Without any hesitation Abdul said " Chal Brendon ke pas paisa nahe hai aur dus rupia nikalo" (Brendon does not have any money, contribute Rs 10 more) The rest duly obliged without question. I was truly astonished by this behavior where buddies look after each other. Of course I could not just sit by and ended up paying for their bill. Abdul loudly asked "But why Uncle?" I did not tell him that at such a young age he was already living the "Spirit of St. Stanislaus" I mumbled that we were Stanislites and we had just run the same race. All four Stanislite loudly chorused "Thank You Uncle"

Little did they realize that they had made my day memorable!


All pictures courtesy David de Souza www.daviddesouza.com who captures emotions and not just pictures.

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