Hey guys! Below is my response to princeton's prompt :Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.
word limit - 500. (I have used 533 words)
Please let me know how you like it; I have little writing experience and am looking for helpful feedback. Thanks!
"She had studied the universe all her life, but had overlooked its clearest message: For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love." - Contact, by Carl Sagan.
On 26th of July, 2005, my father and I had gone to visit an old college friend of his in Worli, Mumbai. It was only when we started to leave that we noticed the sheets of rain, which had been relentlessly pelting the sides of the building, had caused mayhem on the streets outside. In spite of his friend's warning, Papa decided to catch the bus to Mahim, pointing out that torrential rains hit Mumbai every monsoon.
It was becoming clearer by the second that this was no ordinary downpour. By the time we realized it, virtually the entire city had been flooded and it was too late to get out of the bus - there was no way we could have covered the remaining distance on foot. Papa coaxed me to sleep for a little while, with the assurance that things would get better soon. By 9 pm, pangs of hunger had woken me up and I was praying feverishly for a miracle. And the miracle did happen! Within few minutes, some people started boarding our bus with steel crates on their heads. As if by divine providence, these unexpected Samaritans had turned up with bottles of water, packets of biscuits, and the Mumbai staple of 'wada-pav'. From their clothing it was apparent that they were lower to lower-middle class folks - most likely from Dharavi, the nearby slum settlement. Dharavi is in a low lying area and consequently the effects of this deluge would have been most acute there. Yet these selfless souls had taken time out of helping their own families to help strangers, putting their own welfare at stake. Later that night they even provided us with transport on a makeshift raft and helped us reach our relatives' place, who were overjoyed to see our faces. We got into warm and dry beds that night, thanking our stars at just being alive.
It has been eight years now since that night which took the lives of over a hundred Mumbaikars. What happened there was neither televised nor broadcast, but it meant the world to 56 despondent passengers. Until then, I was convinced that the world was not run on fancy theories of selfless service but rather on the Darwinian notion of each man for himself. The sweat-drenched faces of those men proved me wrong. I now know that the change we all hanker for, the change that we all visualize through costly seminars and vision documents, will neither be mandated nor photographed; instead, it will come in miniscule selfless acts, quietly done and cloaked in humility. Being saved by a group of strangers whose conviction to serving others became an inspiration for me since that night, I became a different person. Now, whenever there is a moment where I can help and change things for the better, those unnamed selfless friends, our saviours, remind me repeatedly how apathy is unacceptable, and that we all have the strength to change what is broken in our lives, and in the world.