Free Portland News January 2019

By Keith Barnard-Jones


Rotary heading into 2019

As we move into the New Year I would like to do something different, but, first of all may I thank all those who attended our Burns Night event a few days ago - we do very much appreciate your support.  After all, our Rotary Club is based on our community – so it is your Rotary Club as well.

 And a quick plug for our first Table Top Sale of the year which will be held in the Community 2000 Hall as always, on Saturday morning 9th. February.  This will be in aid of the Jamboree Scouts so we very much hope that you will be able come along and support them, and us.  Who knows?  You may buy something very useful, something you have always wanted.  Or you may simply enjoy a bacon buttie and a cup of coffee, or make new friends as well, of course, as meeting many old ones.

Now, with not a lot of other local news for you today, as mentioned previously I have been asked to talk about the wider aspect of Rotary so here goes with my story (or one of them anyway).

A few years back Judy and I were representing the President of Rotary International in India – attending conferences, visiting projects etc..  Sorry, this is not meant to be name-dropping but may help to explain the internationality of Rotary.  While in Jaipur we were looked after admirably by the Rotarians in Jaipur who greeted us one morning with the news that we were to have tea with the Maharaja that afternoon – a very rare honour and reflected the respect in which the Indian Rotarians are held by their peers.  You have 20 minutes only, was the advice we were give.   So we duly turned up at the palace gate to meet the great man.  For those who do not know the Maharaja had sustained a massive stroke some years before and really struggled to speak – but he was determined to meet us and join in the conversation.  It may have helped that we had seen his father play polo against Prince Philip when we were students a year or two ago and told him all about the game. He was fascinated.  Moreover he obviously knew all about the Jaipur limb project, as well as all that the Rotarians were doing throughout India, plus of course our fight against polio.    Conversation took a little longer than usual for obvious reasons, but topics discussed ranged far and wide.   After almost half an hour I took a surreptitious glance at my watch – a mistake!! Do you have another engagement? I was asked.  Profuse apologies and I explained that we had been told by the Jaipur Rotarians that we were limited to 20 minutes only and should then leave.  The reply – Would you like some tea?  So the manservant brought in tea and the trimmings, and we stayed a lot, lot longer, talking, talking, talking.  He was one of the bravest and loveliest men I have ever met in my life. With his impediment, to take on two complete strangers, to treat us like Royalty, to look after us with courtesy and charm, and to spend an hour (or more!) discussing the Rotary world, as well as the wider world while sitting over several cups of tea in his beautiful palace was an incredible experience.  Very sadly the Maharaja died a couple of year ago but I still have a vivid memory of one of life’s great gentlemen sitting there, struggling to talk, while being the perfect host.  If only other world leaders would show the same courtesy to the common man, the world would be a lot better place.   Keith

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