Greatness in deeds is greatness indeed!

ain’t what you become
it is what you

In this journey that we call life, we cross paths with so many people; some as acquaintances, some as friends, a few as family and a lot that just co-inhabit the planet. We forget many…remember so few. Only rarely do we come across a person whose name can be appended with ‘the great…’- a person who is truly #madeofgreat and touches our life in a way that changes it forever.
Greatness, I believe, does not pertain to a single act of heroism or an achievement. It is a part of an individual’s personality- a habit of committing to the right, of honouring one’s own purpose in life and keeping the welfare of others before self. Greatness has a wide array of interpretations and this is my take on it.
Of course I can write about the people we hear of and see in news for excellence in their work, who set new records and bring to humanity the discoveries that affect millions. I could write about my father, for he is ‘Superman’ and every other superhero personified for me; or maybe my mother, who has shown grit and determination throughout her life but that would be biased probably, for we all look up to our parents.
In this blog post, I shall talk of an average person, outside of my immediate family, one who is just like you and me-who does not even know or care that someone is writing about him today…a man who is undoubtedly #madeofgreat…a man I truly appreciate and who remains an inspiration to this day-Col(retd) C.L.Salwan.
When I was in school, I was told by my father one day that I would be dropped off by my ‘buggywala’ at Salwan uncle’s house which was very close to my school. I was fine with it. Being a child of working parents, I was used to being picked up by my maternal grand father or at times the ‘buggywala’ would drop me there. Maybe nanu-nani were not at home. I knew Salwan uncle, the husband of my dad’s buaji and had met him many a times before but going to his house from school was a first. I was dropped at the house as per instructions and the ‘buggywala’ left. I was greeted by a smartly dressed, smiling gentleman who wished me before I could. ‘Good afternoon my dear. How are you?’ I greeted back and was ushered in. The grass in the garden was just the right amount of green and all plants seemed well taken care of.
Inside the house, dad’s buaji whom we also addressed the same, hugged and welcomed me. I sat there displaying the best of my manners while I was treated with the delectable savories. As I munched on, I could see that the house was impeccably clean. My mother would have probably given an arm for our house to look the same but with three kids…it could only be a distant dream. An elegant black and white photograph of the couple, which must have been taken in the prime of youth, hung on the wall ahead and looked more like a still from an old movie. Uncle looked impressive in his uniform while buaji emanated grace and poise. I smiled. The two still looked very elegant, though they were easily in their early sixties.
Uncle saw me gazing at the photograph and came to sit near me. I came to know that he had witnessed the Independence and Partition of India and had joined Indian army in the post independence times and had been commissioned into 1 Mahar Regiment. He had fought the wars of 1962, 1965 and 1971. I was in awe, sharing space with a man who had seen and been through so much.
There were many souvenirs adorning the shelves, collected probably from all the places he had been posted at. Every single one of them apparently had a tale to tell and I decided to enquire the next time I visited.
Back home, I told my father animatedly of all the fascinating things I had seen and that Uncle had fought the wars. Of course he knew but he was enjoying my narration. Then he told me what I did not know about Salwan Uncle. Uncle got married to Buaji in the post independence decade, a time when the country was learning to walk on its recently unbound legs yet the society was still in shackles of many a customs unfriendly to women. They were a model couple but could not bear a child. Despite and against all social pressure and the stigma attached to childlessness, he decided it was perfectly okay to remain childless. I can only imagine the pressure the two must have felt, the questions that they must have faced and the ‘advises’ he must have had to turn a deaf ear to. For Buaji, Uncle was truly her knight in shining armour. What is it if not greatness to be able to think beyond your times and do what is right, even if the entire world feels it isn’t? He even went a step further and refused adoption too. For him, the two of them were just enough!
I had a new-found respect for him since that day. Over the years, I saw him with Buaji, always at her side, never missing any occasion of the family, be it of joy or mourning. His ever-smiling face and lively nature endeared him to one and all he met. He never bragged of his achievements in life. He never told stories of his experiences unless someone wanted to hear them.
Being a determined man, he drove himself everywhere till his knees had to be replaced. He got the replacement done and starting driving again. Not that he could not afford a driver; he just wanted to do everything he could till he could. Even in his seventies, he was there for everyone, every time!
He made me realize that it is never the times but the people who change the world. It is never a wrong time to take the right decision. Life has a lot more to offer if we look beyond our misfortunes and embrace the blessings we have.
Today, he is almost 88 years of age. He lost his wife a couple of years ago. It must have shaken him but has definitely not shattered him. Even though he is now so weak that he moves around in a wheelchair, nevertheless he moves. He still lives alone with his domestic help-a couple who cook for him and take care of him. Even at this age, he did not forget to go the extra mile and bought the couple a piece of land to secure their future. Meet him once and you shall understand he has a gift- a gift of joy.
It is his sheer grit and determination and an indomitable spirit that keep him going and I feel fortunate to know him and try and inculcate the positivity he radiates. There is so much that he has taught me unknowingly and continues to.
I have never been able to express it so but I have always held you in great respect Uncle- a soldier of the soil, a man with a dauntless spirit, with the courage to defy wrong, an ability to live life to the fullest and to be there for everyone despite own troubles… I truly believe you are #madeofgreat.

Author’s note: ‘I am participating in the Tata Motors #madeofgreat contest and this is a tribute to a man I believe is undoubtedly #madeofgreat. Do let me know what you think of the post and if anyone you know is also #madeofgreat. And hey,also let me know what you think of Tata Motors’ association with Lionel Messi…a culmination of two Titans-according to me. The best answer stands a chance to win a voucher worth Rs.750/-.
So what are you waiting for? Comment away! The last date is 26th Nov,2015.’

21 thoughts on “Greatness in deeds is greatness indeed!

  1. Shivani this was inspiring, we never know what happens to the family of army men unless people talk and share about such issues. Our real heroes are people guarding us, also their kith and kin who support them through this life long endeavour. Regards to Colonel Uncle, my respect for what he has done and what he is doing πŸ™‚ As far as the association of Messi & Tata Motors is concerned, just look at the number of posts and people we are getting to read and know about because of this initiative! That by itself answers the question, the power of people who are made of great! πŸ™‚

  2. Tata Motors' association with Lionel Messi is #madeofgreat due to the Unity of two excellent Entities , marvelous Merits, Sports and Technology joint venture , merger of brilliant forces for the crowning glory of Sports and Auto Industry, The Superstars of Sports and Auto will dazzle and brighten the whole World.

  3. Nice post .a good read .
    Tata Motors is a brand which is one of its kind , Trustworthy and innovative .
    Lionel Messi is a Legend and youth icon , a person who is extra ordinary talented ,energetic , confident & dedicated to his profession .
    So association of Tata motors and Lionel Messi is a Great Thing as both of them does not know tiredness and are committed to their brand value .This collaboration would definitely give an edge to Tata Groups over its competitors as the brand ambassador Messi hold the reputation of not letting down his fans as Tata motors has given the best to the world.

  4. A very beautiful heartfelt read, Shivani…reading this felt like I was actually meeting your uncle. It takes someone truly #madeofgreat to step out of the societal wave and think and walk on your own path, following the voice that guides you from within. Hats off to your uncle.

    Coming to the association of Lionel Messi with Tata Motors, Tata is a name in which the Indians trust and believe wholeheartedly and Messi is the God of Football, a genius and a magician with the world at his feet – with their core personality traits in common, the coming together of the two is really purely and truly "Made of Great"!

  5. The story of a Legend in himself – that’s how I will describe it in a short sentence. Very well written with words which enhance the simplicity yet greatness of the person. Salutations and very happy for you to have got inspired and bringing out your best in life.

    My answer: Tata is a name which any and every person can rely on for its honesty, commitment and perseverance. Lionel Messi is a legend who has carved his name in history books with total dedication to the game, simple living and improvisation which is seen with each game he plays. The association of Tata Motors and Lionel Messi as their Brand Ambassador will definitely give an edge to the Tata group over its competitors solely because the brand Ambassador also holds the same reputation of not letting his fans down ever, like Tata Motors who have given the best to the world over the decades. Its an exemplary association par excellence.

    You can choose my answer as the Voucher winning comment if you feel I described it all well.. πŸ™‚ Please remember to post it on the Indiblogger contest page today..

  6. Hi Shivani
    Indeed a nicely written post. I wish you good luck for the contest
    Here is my answer
    The association of Tata Motors with Lionel Messi is that of two greats. Lionel Messi has been exceptionally talented who with his hard work, determination and sacrifices has got better and tougher in his chosen sport so is the Image, reputation and quality of TATA Motors that have transformed brilliant ideas into masterpieces of engineering and created a brand and products that we are so proud of as Indians. Lionel Messi has transformed his body and the mind body co-ordination into a masterpiece of precision and excellence it would not be wrong to say that Lionel Messi is the TATA Motors of sports where as TATA Motors is the Lionel Messi of vehicles both giants in their own spheres driven by the drive to excel and lead by example. So Lionel Messi is the best choice for becoming the brand Ambassador for TATA Motors

  7. Your post describes #madeofgreat so well that it has winner written all over it. Good luck for your entry.
    Here is my answer.
    Like minds think and act alike looking at the track record of TATA Motors it has stood the test of time and built a business that was built using bricks of hard work on a foundation of trust. Authenticity, reliability, simplicity, as well as its commitment to innovation are the trademarks of brand TATA Motors. These same qualities are present in Lionel Messi who with his immense talent has made a mark for himself on the international football field .Facing all hardships he has worked hard toiling on the fields and in training sessions facing injuries and pressure to come out trumps and be a winner. Thus these two greats Lionel Messi and TATA Motors are made for each other .There association is a bond of two legends
    In case you pick me a winner my email id is :
    Fingers crossed πŸ™‚

  8. Your post defines #madeofgreat to the hilt. Goodluck for the contest
    My answer is:
    Authenticity, reliability, simplicity, as well as its commitment to innovation are the pillars of strength on which TATA have built a brand that has put India on the global map. It is a brand that has stood the test of time just like Lionel Messi who tackles opposition on the field with his skill,agility,strategy,brilliance and raw power to reach and score a goal so has been the track record of TATA motors who has become a brand leader and a global giant. These qualities make TATA Motors and Lionel Messi perfect partners who stand for the same set of values thus Lionel Messi is the perfect brand ambassador to represent TATA Motors.
    Hope my best to be a winner here; do contact me for the prize at
    fingers crossed

  9. Shakespeare has said..there are three kinds of great men in this world…Some are born great…some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.I personally am a great fan of the league of extraordinay people belonging to the second category. @Shivani- I admire the stuff your uncle is made of. Apparently, the mould used by the creator is in short supply. Men such as him are on the verge of extinction. The same can be said of Messi and TATA. Both acheived greatness braving all odds. I salute the never say die spirit of your uncle -An Officer and a Gentleman. I wish that a fraction of his spirit is bestowed on those around us so that they can open their myopic eyes and try to seek the bigger picture. Life is all about spreading and sharing the joys of life and tolerance is the ability to smile through the follies of fellow mortals around you.
    Thanks for sharing with us, a glimpse of the amazing journey of life that your uncle has undertaken. My e-mail id is

  10. Your post defines #madeofgreat in an awesome manner.Very well written and interesting post indeed.
    My Answer
    Tata Motors is a brand that makes durable vehicles, with its MADE IN INDIA mark makes every Indian proud. It is a brand seen globally as Trusted, Reliable, Innovative and at the forefront of technology. In its journey since inception it has overcome all odds, competition, and adversities with grit and determination. These same qualities are associated with Lionel Messi who was very talented and hardworking from a very early age. With each game that he played he kept improving his skills and built a career to become one of the best player of professional football. There qualities make both TATA Motors and Lionel Messi giants who perfectly compliment each other and Lionel Messi the right and perfect Ambassador who stands for the same values that TATA Motors does.

  11. Yours is a very well written post your .Its is a very nice description of #madeofgreat
    TATA Motors is a brand associated with performance, endurance and excellence. These words are also synonymous with Lionel Messi who plays as a forward and weaves his magic on the football field.Just as Lionel Messi is considered the best footballer in the world ,TATA motors which is Indias premier automotive manufacturer gives wheels to the people of India with its wide range of vehicles. Both believe in excelling in whatever they do and set examples for others to follow. They compliment each other as both are reliable trustworthy and leaders thus Lionel Messi is the natural choice as the brand ambassador of TATA Motors

  12. This is a brilliant post, all the best to you πŸ™‚
    When it comes to impact and impacting millions of lives, Yes, we can see both Tata Motors and Lionel Messi being the pioneers here. While the very name Tata is enough to make us go back to all our history books where we have seen there hardly is a comparable name that has contributed so much to the society in such an ethical manner, the very name Messi conjures up images of a boy-man who has turned the world upside down with his talent, determination, discipline and never-give-up spirit. The compatibility between the values they both share is intense and that is the reason this partnership works perfectly.

    With a concern for the society at large,everything that Tata has done has inspired us to dream big, conquer the world and pour all our energy back into the society to do good and inspire good. By facing his demons, Messi has done the same. He enjoys a God-like status in the world today because he dared to dream, achieved the sky and still hasn't lost his humanity a bit. He is still a child at heart and he gives back with his multiple philanthropic activities just like Tata does!

    Talk to any person in India, ask them about the companies they admire the most. Tata is right there at the top. This name is beyond bottomline, spreadsheets, return on investment and share price. It is equivalent to soul of India-soft, kind, diverse, dynamic, eternal. Just like that Messi has emerged as not just another football player but someone whose very life is an inspiration, whose personal struggles are a template for others to emulate and who has morphed into an eternal legend.

    While it would take eons to write about what makes Tata Motors and Messi great, as their list of achievements is too long for us to even skim over, suffice to say that this partnership is for the ages. As they say, some things are made in heaven πŸ™‚

    Thank you for this opportunity.
    -Richa Shailendra,

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