When I got Padma Bhushan

The Sunrise. Photo by Achal R Chauhan.
The Sunrise. Photo by Achal R Chauhan.

People go to Delhi’s G.B. Road for different purposes. For those not familiar with Garstin Bastion Road, may I share that it is the red light area of the national capital — a full-fledged sex district. I went there too.

And I went for over a month, to teach Spoken English to a group of very young enthusiasts working for children found on railway platforms. I learnt that some of the volunteers themselves had either been found on platforms or came from one of the kothas. Others were from respectable addresses too. But they mixed so well.

G.B. Road’s name had been officially changed to Swami Shradhanand Marg way back, but this sex district has failed to ward off the dust mites accumulating there since the Mughal era. It is in the heart of India’s capital — sandwiched between New Delhi and Old Delhi — so lively, yet so lifeless. It is here where I was introduced to the young social reformers, the junior most being 18.

It used to be a small room near a railway godown where a big batch of thirsty youth would anxiously wait for me, daily. I visited them without fail every promised day, when they’d greet me with colgate smile and offer a Bisleri water bottle.

After the lessons concluded, they would not let me go; with each pair of the eye balls asking: “atithi tum phir kab aaoge” !!! I was given a certificate which read: “… Apart from this, Mr. Bhushan also helped improve morale of the team … and their self-esteem”. What more could I look for, what more would I demand? But they also arranged some cash, equal to a journalist’s monthly wages.

Perhaps, this is my Padma Bhushan.


  1. After I read this, I felt creating value is still alive for some like Bhushan, which doesn’t depend on any external factor but will only. Hats off! Would pay a royal salute to u…


  2. Dear Neeraj,

    Hats off to you my friend. Your parents gave you one half the other half has been earned by you through your hard & selfless work.

    There is nothing more precious than a genuine ‘Thank You’ from those who say it with total honesty. These words suddenly seem to come alive with a life of their own. All citation pale in comparison.

    Why should one even value what others connive and indulge in deceitful behaviour, which devalues them further for they know it in their hearts that they are the most undeserving to have possessed it.

    I look forward to meeting you in person some day down the line.

    Anil Kohli


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