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To Jakarta with Love from India

M K Tayal: In all the negativity and fear of the corona virus, people are standing by each other, irrespective of religion or regional affinity, crossing boundaries and going beyond the call of duty. It’s a small gesture but shows lot of compassion, humanity, and concern for the humans as Global citizen.

This is the story of Mr Debasshish Biswas, a senior officer at the Embassy of India in Jakarta, going beyond the call of official duty and protocol, helped out an Indonesian citizen, Mohammad, with three hungry children, who was looking for food and assistance.

I had travelled from New Delhi to Jakarta long before the world even knew that the Covid 19 virus existed and was taking such a deadly shape. Upon getting the necessary clearances from the immigration, Mohammad picked me from Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.

Normally, you don’t get to remember your taxi drivers. But this was no ordinary driver.  Striking a conversation, Mohammad said he loved India and was a big fan of Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan and sang a popular Bollywood number out of his love for India.  It surprised me no end. And then music flowed and so did Mohammad, and his love for Hindi music when he did not understand the meaning of the renditions he was doling out with ease. Mohammad said his great-grand parents were Indians and had come to Java Island and since then they have changed their religions and become Indonesians, with no contact with their home in India.

Exchanging numbers and bidding farewell, the journey was forgotten. Until, I got a message from Mohammad in the last week of April. Indonesia is also under lockdown conditions with taxis out of service and people losing jobs.

Mohammad wrote that he was out of a job and didn’t have money to buy rice. He was hungry, he sent a message on Whats app. Actually, it was his daughter studying in Grade 8, reaching out for help.

I however expresses my inability to help as I told her that I was not in Jakarta but 7000 thousand miles away in a far off land, India.  But her appeal stuck in my mind. I didn’t know anyone who could help in Jakarta, who could get permission to travel and then help in their curfew like conditions, all the while crossing language barriers.

But then I thought why not try the Indian Embassy in Jakarta. Mr Debasshish Biswas of the Indian Embassy listened patiently when I told him the whole story. In the end, Mr Biswas said, he could ask the Indian community members in Jakarta and hopefully they would be able to help.

A few days later, a surprise thank your from Mohammad came as a pleasant surprise. The Kerala Samaiam Indonesia, a group of spirited Indians, were helping out people in Indonesia had sent food material and other necessary items to Mohammad without asking any question.

The whole family just were thankful, they sent pictures and Mohammad recorded a song and sent as his gratitude. He doesn’t know Mr Biswas, the protagonist, is at the back of it all with the gracious and spirited assistance by Kerala Samaiam Indonesia. A big thank you to the real heroes who help without coming into the limelight. This is the Indian spirit of brotherhood and compassion.



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