The day had just begun, but for the hundreds of people standing in queue in front of ICICI Bank, Sector 30, Noida, it seemed like they had been waiting for ages. It was November 15, 2016 — just a week into Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
Tempers were running high and patience low. But they didn't have a choice. They had to wait, because they needed the money. From somewhere near the back of the line, someone let loose a string of expletives. Others joined in. The guards at the bank gates started getting agitated.
That is when something else caught their attention. A few men were pitching a stall nearby with what seemed like pots, pans, a huge kadhai and gas stoves. Thankful for the distraction, the men in queue watched them pitch a stall, put water to boil on the stove and the kadhai on a larger fire. Soon the aroma of freshly brewed tea and hot, crisp pakoras reached them. Slowly, a few men at the very end of the line found the courage to move away and towards the stall.
"It's free, please help yourselves," said the smiling man in charge of the stall. Soon, there was a small crowd in front of it.
Mahendra Dublish had accomplished what he had set out to do — give these men on the edge of exasperation a short window of respite.
A 57-year-old chartered accountant and a resident of Sector 30, Noida, Dublish served tea and snacks to everyone who gathered at his stall — not just those standing in queue, but also bank employees.
“I live right in front of the bank, and for the past few days have been noticing how hassled all of them are, and for no fault of their own," Dublish said. "I have observed them and marvelled at their perseverence. I just had to do something to help in my own way. So I installed a tent outside the bank, called up a caterer and some of my firm employees, and gave them whatever refreshments I could.”
In three days — November 15, 16 and 17 — Dublish spent Rs 90,000 serving 2,500 cups of tea and numerous snacks to people.
"My grandfather, Vishnu Sharan Dublish, was a freedom fighter who later became a member of parliament of the second Lok Sabha from Sardhana constituency in 1957. He has always been an inspiration, a reason for me to want to do something for others," Dublish said. Even his book, Strategy Of Life, is dedicated to him.
“I believe everyone has a bit of God in them. To serve Him, I just need to serve my fellow human beings,” Dublish said.
Dublish runs a chartered accountancy firm from his house in Block D, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
To City Spidey, he truly proved that day that the best things in life have nothing to do with money. Indeed, #Kindnessiscashless.