As India reels from the effects of a nationwide lockdown, here are three heartwarming stories of people going the extra mile to help someone out, or cheer them up.
“You’ve made my day!”
India has been in lockdown since 25 March. Many people are stuck at home alone, leaving the elderly especially feeling lonely and cut-off from family and friends.
So Karan Puri, an elderly resident of Panchkula, a town in the northern state of Haryana, was in for a pleasant surprise when the police came knocking at his door recently.
In a video that has since been shared widely, Mr Puri can be seen striding towards the gate, saying, “I am Karan Puri, I live alone and I am a senior citizen.”
But what happens next leaves him stumped. “Happy birthday to you!” As the police officers sing, Mr Puri doubles over in surprise, asking them how they know. He says his children are away and he starts to tear up.
The police tell him there is no need to feel lonely because they are like his family too, before producing a birthday hat and a cake, which Mr Puri then cuts while the officers resume singing.
“Thank you!” he tells them at one point. “You’ve made my day.”
A meal for two
Doctors in India, like elsewhere, are on the front lines fighting the pandemic, and they are often working around the clock.
“The anxiety and stress levels at work are immense,” said Kaushik Barua, a 30-year-old critical care resident at a private hospital in the Indian capital, Delhi.
Mr Barua spoke to the Humans of Delhi blog, which was inspired by Humans of New York.
“But through this tough journey, I have had the help of one truly kind soul,” he said.
His landlord, Rohit Suri, has been cooking him meals every day, so he has a plate of hot food waiting for him when he returns home, exhausted, from work.
The two men have become good friends, as Mr Suri also lives alone.
“I’m glad I could capture our moment of camaraderie this morning,” says Dr Barua of the selfie that has made it to the popular blog. And, as you can see, they are social distancing in this “Vitamin D selfie”, as Mr Barua and Mr Suri refer to it.
Dr Barua says he feels especially lucky and grateful because one of his friends, who is also a doctor, was asked by her landlord to vacate her home. Several doctors and nurses in India have complained of this, saying landlords and neighbours were afraid of contracting the virus from them.
“Mr Suri has been a remarkable human being, the kind that the world needs in such times,” Mr Barua said.
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Birthday wishes from afar
Not only would Vatsal Sharma have to celebrate his 15th birthday during the lockdown, but he would have to do it without his father around. He had gone to the US on work, and wasn’t able to return in time when India suspended all incoming flights.
So Mr Sharma was surprised and touched that his father still managed to send him a birthday cake – through the police!
His father wrote to the local police, asking if they could wish his son a happy birthday on his behalf, so they turned up at the house, cake in hand, to do just that.
And Mr Sharma found himself cutting a cake on the bonnet of a police car, while the officers clapped and the happy birthday song blared from the car’s stereo.
In the video tweeted by the police, Mr Sharma said, “This year the police made my birthday special. I loved it!”