25 April, 2019
Alagarathanam Natarajan is 70 years and is fondly called as the Matka Man by Delhiites. He used to run a joke and a souvenir shop in the streets of London until he was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Not one to give up easily, he fought the disease and overcame it. He, then, returned to Delhi and started working on creating a more sturdy and efficient cycle rickshaws. He also offered his services in various ways to serve the society around him.
It was in 2014 that he started observing the extreme discomfort people of Delhi were having due to the extreme heat. The Delhi heat is sweltering, and people were thirsty. He turned his attention to the problem of ensuring that people don’t go thirsty. At first, he just installed a water cooler outside his home; but realized that people would benefit only if they came around there.
So, he improvised on a solution that ensured that thirsty Delhiites, especially in South Delhi are not hassled for water anymore. He installed Matka stands (earthen pots with water) all over the neighborhood to benefit the people, especially the poor, who did not have easy access to water. The best part is that he has put up a signboard too, along with the Matkas, which carry his contact number. People are supposed to call him when a Matka is empty so that he can refill it!
Around 200 liters of water is needed in a day for this noble purpose, and he is supported in this venture by a nearby school as well as few kind souls. He also pitches in with the water from his own home. He maintains the supply using his van, going around with the water fills.
He starts his day quite early, by setting up his water-filled Matkas, and usually, if it is not summer, the water pots last a day. In summer, though, the water needs refilling, and he does that when he gets a call from someone, intimating about the same.
From this experience, he believes that there is no limit to giving to society, in any which way. He feels as if he is on a wonderful journey of giving and learning each day. He lives in Panchsheel Park and hopes that he becomes a shining example of kindness to the nation. He firmly believes in leading by example, and one must say that he certainly has lived by it! There can be nothing better than ensuring a continuous supply of drinking water, and that too free, to the needy, on the run, and Alagarathanam Natarajan had the wisdom and the compassion to do something about it, without giving excuses or turning his back. He is truly an inspirational Indian, whose story can inspire many more Matka Men or Women across the country.
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