For every depressing news alert, there’s a happy pop-up waiting to be discovered. This Valentine’s week, we’ve dug out 14 sunshine-y stories that you might have missed amidst the frustrating headlines of the last 12 months. Because we’re all for believing in the goodness of people and not letting the sad stuff weigh us down, here’s wishing you happy reading.
1. Golden hearts
In December 2016, Twitter user Abdullah al-Qahtani shared an upsetting picture he’d seen on a private Instagram handle, intending to change the narrative completely. He’d noticed locals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, mocking an old street cleaner for admiring gold jewellery in a store. Abdullah used his online network to find the man and raise money for a well-deserved gift for him. The man was Nzerol Abdul Karim, a 65-year old Bangladeshi who’d been working in Riyadh for 11 years. The cleaner was given a gold set by the store and social media found gold with this heart-melting picture.
2. Kashmir ki kahaani
In November last year, eight-year-old Tajamul Islam from Kashmir became the first Indian to have participated in and won a gold medal at the world kick-boxing championship. This adorable, yet fierce kid fought her way up and thanked her family and the Indian army for supporting her throughout. Now that’s the kind of Kashmir story we’d love to hear about more often.
3. Mother of mine
This story finds a spot on our list, thanks to the ideals of a strong mother-daughter duo. At Hernoor Grewal’s wedding, her mother gave her away and performed every ceremony her father would have, had he not walked away from his family. Hernoor shared her mother’s inspirational story (via The Pink Ladoo Project), and all that she had to do to be able to raise five daughters well. Path-breaking in every way.
Slum kids in Ahmedabad attend school, but it’s the after-school hours that they look forward to the most. Kamalbhai Parmar is the creator of what’s now called the Footpath Shaala, where he spends his evenings helping local kids with their studies. It began with 10 kids and now, thanks to his efforts, 150 kids in this region are not just literate, but educated.
5. Cafes with a cause
Walk through the lanes of Delhi’s Shahpur Jat village and find your way to the quaint Hearken Cafe. This cafe is on our list thanks to its founders’ decision to employ speech- and hearing-impaired staff members. Drop by to say hello to the helpful wait staff who charm customers with their smiles and encourage everyone to learn and use the Indian Sign Language. Another great example is Mumbai’s Birdsong – The Organic Cafe. Known for their organic-only policies, this cafe surprised us by refusing to stock basics like plastic straws and packaged ketchups
6. Walls of goodness
Winter is a harsh time for the homeless, but this December, many good Samaritans got together to bring some warmth to our world. Walls of Kindness or Neki Ki Deewars, emerged in different parts of the country where people could donate or collect woollen clothes for absolutely no charge. Inspired by the Wall of Humanity (Deewar-e-Meherbani) from Iran, these walls are still active in cities like Varanasi, Nagpur, Jaipur and elsewhere.
7. Lovely planet
We often find ourselves sighing and scoffing at big, fat Indian weddings for their unnecessary wastage of funds and resources. So take a moment to appreciate Shasvathi and Karthik’s organic, pet-friendly ceremony last year. The Mumbai-based couple stuck to their ideals and conducted a simple, happy ceremony with zero wastage of resources. The best part? Their pets were in attendance, taking the cuteness meter of these photos to an
8. Ramp-ready beauty
Reshma Bano Qureshi and the amazing group of women from the Make Love Not Scars foundation have been winning our hearts ever since they came together. In September last year, the women took their cause to the global stage with Reshma’s ramp debut at the New York Fashion Week. Her smile won everyone’s hearts, while her scars got the authorities to take acid attack crimes seriously.
9. Love means saying sari
Gender and sexuality remain taboo subjects in our country, but we’re moving towards acceptance, one family at a time. Kama’s mother accepted her son’s choice to identify as a woman with the gift of a sari. Kama, based in Montreal, shared this sweet story of love and acceptance on social media, which brought a smile to our faces.
10. A hat for an elephant
What’s better than a free bunch of rehabilitated elephants? A free bunch of rehabilitated elephants in happy and bright, hand-knitted woollens! The volunteers at Wildlife SOS in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, made this happen and earned global praise in the process.
11. Saare Jahan Se Achcha
For Independence Day 2016, a group of people crowdsourced special gratitude-filled messages for the soldiers of the Indian army. A microsite was created where people from different walks of life sent in thank you notes. These messages were then compiled, saved in a beautiful scrapbook and personally delivered to certain army camps in Jammu and Kashmir. Now that’s a good way to celebrate a national holiday.
12. Returning to the roots
In December 2016, Hindustan Times journalist Danish Raza shared with the world a heart-warming tale of a daughter’s search for her birth mother. Born in India, Anusja was raised by her adoptive parents in Belgium. She had a successful life both personally and professionally, but she still felt incomplete and longed for a sense of belonging and a connection with her roots. Anusja finally found the courage to find her birth mother and after a gruesome search that extended for almost two years, she found her in a village in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. The result was a reunion like no other.
13. Not without my dogs
It’s not uncommon for people to give away their pets, especially when there’s a kid in the picture. For Bengaluru-based Sanjana Madappa, her pets were her family. Everyone, from her parents and in-laws, to even her doctors adviced her to get rid of them but Sanjana stuck to her stand, ‘Not without my dogs!’ She survived a complicated pregnancy with her dogs by her side and now, they’re helping the couple raise their son, switching between the roles of elder siblings and nannies.
14. Cycling into hearts
Pune-based Tanvi Jain found her colony society guard in tears after someone stole his cycle. She used her social media presence for help and within days, found a donor for a new cycle. She contributed too, both in cash and kind, giving us these happy pictures in the process. We’re told the guard has not stopped smiling since.
From HT Brunch, February 12, 2017
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