This is old news but still holds true. Several months ago I received the Pride of Karnataka award from the Roundtable International in a very glitzy ceremony at the Leela Palace. The other awardees of similar awards were far better known and had achieved much more than I have. So, just sitting beside them and waiting for my name to be announced was an honour by itself. And then to top the celebrity list was the Chief Guest who was none other than the new Maharaja of Mysore, Yaduveera Krishnadatta Chamraj Wadiyar, a shy young man who was trying to settle down to his new high profile role. He had many glamour quotients attached to him, all that makes any man top the charts of most women’s desired list. He is young, educated, good looking, obviously rich and most evidently powerful. I recognized his quiet dignity as he handed my award to me but I also detected a hint of familiarity in his unwavering smile. After the award ceremony, all the awardees and VIP guests were invited to stay back for dinner with the Chief Guest. On similar occasions I am usually the first person to make a quick exit but this time I stayed back because I had taken the Parikrma leadership team with me that night. Such occasions are recognition of collaborative achievement and not individual glory and I wanted them with me. The Head teachers of the four Parikrma schools and Community Development wanted to get close to the royalty because such opportunities are rare. I felt it was my responsibility to fulfill their wish and started to wade through the crowd to get them closer to where he was standing. He looked up from where he was talking to a few other guests and spotted me at a distance and excused himself to move towards my direction. I was surprised at this gesture and did not know how to react. I am the kind of person who very easily gets lost in a crowd and found this kind of interest very unusual. When he was close to me I felt I needed to respond and put out my hand to introduce myself and then introduce my colleagues. Before I could say anything he said, “I know you, madam, I have been going to your school.” Parikrma Humanity Foundation runs free schools for slum and orphaned children. We take great pride that we provide quality education and that our children are equal to any privileged child. But for sure we have never admitted the Mysore prince in our school. Not only would that defeat the very purpose of our existence, it would not be logistically possible. Can you imagine a member of the royalty actually sitting on the floor in the Parikrma classroom and eating anna sambar with his fingers? He laughed at my expression of disbelief and said that he had volunteered with us regularly when he was a student at the Canadian School. It was then that the penny sunk in. Ah! So he was one of the many student volunteers that came to us from some elite schools. And the memories gushed in. He had actually sat on the floor and drew Christmas cards with our children. He said that he loved every moment of it and would never forget the joy and enthusiasm of our children. He went to US for higher studies soon after and lost touch, but was looking forward to coming back to Parikrma as soon as he could. There were a few lessons learnt that day: it is not important where you come from but where you go. We keep saying that to our students everyday. But that holds true for royalty as well, in the reverse. When he was at Parikrma he was like any other student and no one got to know of his lineage. The humility and simplicity that he exhibited with our children were qualities that made many a good king in the past. And the other thing that I learnt was that you may be engaged in many activities in life but the tasks that is close to your heart remain with you forever. That is what happened to His Highness Yaduveera Krishnadatta Chamraj Wadiyar.
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