Dindigal DistrictYesudas was born in one of the poorest communities to be encountered in Southern Asia. His village was situated among towering rock formations, and stone covered fields. Over centuries patient farmers had collected rocks in piles at the borders of ancestral lands, trying vainly to find soil enough in which to plant their rice crop during monsoons. For most of the year the climate was blistering hot, and humidity hung in the air like a wet blanket. For those of us who occasionally made a rest stop on the highway near his village, oppressive heat would paralyze thinking, and limit ability to move without sweating profusely.

I’ve passed inhabitants of these villagers working on highway repair during dry season. They’d walk barefoot on heated bubbling road tar, shifting gravel and molten mix to repair pot holes while women would sit beside the road cracking rocks with hammers for the repair work.

Yesudas arrived at school one day in borrowed clothes and wearing a broad smile. He worked his way through school studying hard, eating little, and always smiling. Once in a while a kind soul would help him with a shirt, or a little money for his fees. He asked for nothing, and in spite of personal hardships was a generous and kind friend to others. It took him several years to complete an education due to a heavy student work program at school, and the need to spend spare time as a salesman to earn sufficient for his following semester fees.

As often happens when you’re not a high profile student, the first employment opportunity Yesudas received was to a village in a remote area of the country. He worked on his appointment with the same dedication and excellent spirit exhibited during long years he’d spent at school, and he was successful. It began to dawn on the community they’d employed a dedicated and powerful personality. Yesudas began a slow rise to the top as his talents and services were more widely recognized.

Several years passed and I was surprised to see him at a convention one day dressed modestly, but quite acceptably. He was holding a position of influence. He still carried the broad smile as his trademark, and I noted his family travelling with him was very well behaved.

Unlike many of us who’ve enjoyed greater opportunities he was vocally appreciative of opportunities placed in his way, and people who’d made unique contributions to his success. He talked about his days of poverty, and his present plans for the community he served.

He was richer than any of us there in attitude and vision. His lecture title “anyone can succeed with effort and belief in self” was an electrifying challenge to those of us who attended that conference. We’d seen this demonstrated in this man’s life.

We were richer in this world’s goods, but poorer in vision than he. All who departed that conference went with a renewed focus on their own potential for success.


“© Copyright Ian Grice2014 All rights reserved


15 thoughts on “RAGS TO RICHES

  1. I enjoyed reading this wonderful “rags to riches” story, Ian…what an experience for you to remember! I love your last line about being richer in world’s goods, but poorer in vision. Words that are true and profound…


    1. Thank you for taking the time to read this story. I’ve met quite a few people like this man. I did not use his real name for the sake of privacy though he really does exist.


  2. Hi Ian what a rich and full life you had over there for all those years…the memories must be so comforting and rewarding. I love reading them. Had a good weekend with Libby and Judy we go heaps of packing done too whilst we munch on bhungarian cooking al la Libby. just wished Barney could have been there to enjoy it. love to you and GG

    Barb. 0438191843

    Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2014 05:26:49 +0000 To: bo_rika@hotmail.com


  3. I love stories like this and this one is great. Thank you so much for sharing it sweet Ian. I certainly enjoyed reading it. Hugs


  4. I have been talking with a friend recently about ‘hopeland’, the idea there is still good people in the world, still opportunity in the world, still vision in the world. Now and then even I am so despondent at all the terrible stories I have a hard time holding open the gate.

    I loved this story Ian, it gives me a renewed sense this morning there continues to be good. Yesudas showed a remarkable sense of personal values and then gratitude. Something I think we forget sometimes.

    Thank you for sharing this one, I especially needed it so I am glad I am behind in my reading.


    1. I’ve been humbled many times over as I watched people in Asia claw their way up out of poverty and prejudice to become successful. We in the West fail to imagine the difficulties these people suffer as they do this. We have so much, and appreciate so little.


  5. Rags to riches is always an endearing subject, but when it is laced with humility and genuine humanity one’s heart is truly touched. Thank you, Ian, for this story of one whose personal drive rewarded him with riches beyond the normal measure of success and who appears to have managed to succeed without stealing from others.


  6. Yesudas possesses some remarkable values – thrift, diligence, loyalty, gratitude, humility and more. The student returned as teacher and taught by living his life the best he can.

    I know some people such as Yesudas, Ian – and have always aspired to be like them. I continue to be inspired.

    Thank you for sharing this tale, tapped from your life’s experiences in India.

    All good wishes,


    1. I have been humbled as I watched many such cases go from rags to riches. By way of contrast we in the West have had much more opportunity to grow and so many do not use those opportunities but are content to let the state support them.


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