One bright sunday morning,after my morning walk on an impulse decided to have a cup of tea at a roadside tea stall just for a change.

The usually buzzing tea stall looked deserted and I had the luxury of a single plastic stool for myself as I settled down to rest my limbs and enjoy the cuppa.

The aluminium tea stall was neat, with perfumed incense sticks tucked neatly in front of a picture of Lord Balaji at the top right corner.

The tea vendor was an elderly man well turned out professional ,looked as if he had taken a shower as the ash on his forehead indicated with white and white well worn shirt and trousers.

He handed me my disposable cup of tea with a smile , as I was scrutinizing him and his stall intently and I smiled back involuntarily.

Taking the first sip, I was hooked. The tea had a tangy taste of ginger and the tea was boiled exactly with perfect proportion of tea , sugar and the right quantity of milk and the consistency of the tea was perfect.

I sipped again savouring the taste with my tongue and the warm liquid providing a great relief to my sour throat. Every sip was sip of pleasure and soon the cup was empty.

I couldn’t help myself and asked for another cup.This was the first time ever that I was having more than my usual quota.This delighted him and he launched into a full fledged procedure and recipe  of the tea.

I couldn’t help but admire his passion for his work. He always  used the best tea brand, and never diluted the milk, and the ginger too he personally picked from the market and finally with great zeal and skill he brewed the tea.


He told me he has been a tea vendor since long and has a steady circle of customers and a steady source of income too.

Just then a regular customer greeted him ordering a cup of tea and starting a conversation. I fished for change in my bag and paying him I said ,”Uncle tea was superb, whenever I visit Hyderabad I will definitely visit your stall”.

The habit of perfection needs to be inculcated and is often overlooked and compromised .This little difference makes all the difference between a shoddily hurried job and a perfectly done one.

Both may fetch you the same results in the short run , but a perfectly done job will consistently bring in good results and success.

This interaction brought to mind a lesson once taught in class , a speech by Martin Luther King in which he says,

“Even if it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures;sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music;sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry, sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say ,” Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

This bit has remained with me ever since and has inspired me to convey to my students the same with the same conviction each and every time and has had a defining influence in my life.

Whatever the job maybe , do it with passion, conviction and with such perfection that it remains and sets a benchmark for others to follow .This gives a sense of fulfilment and brings in the laurels and adds meaning to life.

Whether it is a small job of cutting onions in the kitchen, learning an answer in Chemistry subject, or even washing your own clothes,it is the perfection and passion which makes a difference.

A few more lines from the same sermon come to my mind:

If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill,

Be a shrub in the valley,but be the best

Little shrub on the side of the hill,

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.

If you can’t be a highway just be a trail,

If you can’t be the sun be a star,

It isn’t by size that you win or fail…

Be the best of whatever you are.

And when you do this , you have mastered the length of life.

Credits: Quote and lines taken from The Three Dimensions, a sermon given by Martin Luther king jr,9 April 1967


4 thoughts on “Be the Best

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