Not every cricketer scores a century, nor does every human live a century. Who do, are Centenarians. My is An Inspiring Centenarian, a Rotarian, A Businessman, A Warm Hearted Person, A Revolutionary, A Traveller, A Wanderer, A Sun Shine, A Dreamer, A Hard Worker and above all An Inspiration.
Such a man would only be called Rtn. Ramgopal Mehra. A charter member of my parent Rotary, Rotary Club of Bombay Mid-Town. Not everybody knows his story, or him. Yet, they speak of him when it comes to the dedication towards his works and his grin.
Amritsar was the city, which heard him cry in September 1916. Speak to him about his childhood and his statement would be the same for all, “Children in that era were very revolutionary and so was I, a volunteer in Uniform.” As a kid, yet a revolutionary one, he had attended meetings at Jallianwala Bagh and has met personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and many more during that era.
A dreamer in him always lied in him to complete his ambition of becoming a successful businessman and this dreamer flew to Japan to achieve his ambition. He started working in a textile company with a stipend of Rs. 80 per month, which was a very big amount at that time.
He came back to India to settle in Mumbai after 6 years and got arrested by the British under interrogations about the freedom struggle in India. They transferred him to Lahore in the initial time frame, then China and then to South Africa. At every place, he faced torture and pain, yet, didn’t leave the path of truth. At the end he came back to Bombay then, in 1942 and married his lady to start his Marriage life in 1942.
Not everyone in India has a passport issued by the British Government, not someone who is alive in today’s time; exception is my Centenarian Hero. He holds his First Passport of the British era with pride and a big smile. Ever since his first passport, he has travelled to 104 countries with more than 15 other new passports issued to him after exhaustion of pages.
He helped in chartering one of the initial Rotary Clubs in Mumbai and has been an active member ever since 1968. His motto in life has always been ‘Work’ and his work towards his business or his work towards the Community Service through Rotary has always been soaring.
His work, his life, his smile, his wisdom, his strength, his passion, his love towards Rotary, his view towards Life, his lifestyle, his Work in his lifetime, are the things I admire the most in him and they inspire myself to become hardworking like him.
That’s what my inspirer is like, A dreamer who accomplished his dreams; a true man who lived his life with truth and feared no one; a traveller who travelled not just for the sake of it but, for the craze of it and work as well.
Every road needs a milestone, and we humans need inspirations in our lives. I owe Rotary Club of Bombay Mid-Town the credit for making me meet my Inspiring Centenarian, for which I shall never forget the time speaking to him about his Century.
-Rtr. Yogesh Shah
Rotaract Club of Lala Lajpatrai College