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My father, Dr Gift Siromoney, is considered by many to be a great person, for a variety of reasons. The greatness itself was God’s gift. Another gift from God was the way my father worked at many things – the techniques he used. This sketch is an attempt to put down some of the techniques that he used. This is a purely personal view, and many others who have watched him at work may not agree with the contents – they may possibly not even agree with the idea that he had specific techniques – they may think that greatness cannot be dissected in such a mundane fashion. This attempt at describing some of the techniques is not with the intention of dissection, but rather in the hope that maybe we can learn from some of these and use some of these techniques ourselves.
Blessed are the peacemakers. Dr GS attempted to make peace. He would observe a situation when two individuals A and B were “at war” with each other. He then visits A and converses with him. In the course of the conversation, he somehow uses the flow of the conversation to make A say something nice about B. The conversation and the visit conclude after some time. He then visits B next and converses with him. In the course of the conversation, he somehow manages to repeat the nice comment that A had said about B. Somehow in the rest of the conversation, he manages to make B say something nice about A. He then visits A again. This continues, visit after visit – involving time and concern.
Saying something positive about a negative may sometimes only help to project the negative. His graphic picture about this is the 20 minute sermon where the first 15 minutes is about what is wrong, or what should not be done and the time span that anyone listens to a sermon is anyway only 10 minutes so all that has been picked up is that which is wrong! He also felt very strongly about this point in terms of categorizing people. He lived his life in a way that treated all people alike whatever be the differences between them. He felt that the more one spoke about the differences, the more it highlighted the differences. Treating people alike should be lived, and could possibly be spoken about but not the differences themselves.
The best time to do something is now. If something needs to be done, jump in and do it straightaway. That comet will not wait for a “proper” time to show someone.
Delegation need not necessarily be the best way. Delegation is a good management principle, but is not necessarily the best principle in all situations. Jump in, do it yourself, dirty your hands, and get the job done quicker and better than through delegation.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is meant to be followed. We were on our way to some Christian meeting, and we met an old friend on the way. My father spent a long time talking to him and we were subsequently late for the meeting. Sensing my restlessness, he reminded me that the Levite in the Good Samaritan story had also been on his way to the temple. (In the story of the Good Samaritan, the Levite, the temple priest, had not stopped to help the wounded man on the road.)
A season for everything. Dr GS often picked a short season when he primarily focused on a specific area. It may be a summer school, the period during and after a conference, a summer vacation, a winter vacation. The month of January that year would have kolam as the focus. He would set off almost every morning to see them being drawn. That summer may be the Arikamedu summer, with frequent visits. That year may be the year of the mridangam lessons. His interest in that area would of course continue through his life. There may also be other periods in his life where he had a high focus on this area. However, many areas of interest in his life had one or more short periods of high focus. This explains to some extent how he managed to be knowledgeable in such a wide range of areas. It is not that he spent 5 minutes each day of his life in each of those areas.
A little knowledge can baffle an expert. It is relatively easy to acquire a certain bit of knowledge in an expert’s area of interest that the expert does not know. There are a very large number of experts who have been astonished at Dr GS pulling out some information in their own field that they knew nothing about. However Dr GS himself knew that the expert possibly knew much more than he did in a large part of that field – that there were possibly only one or a few bits that he knew and that the expert did not know.
The person is most important. People matter most. Each person is a person – unique – yet in one sense to be treated no differently from another.