They remain almost invisible in the crowd –but only till you need them. As soon as you realize that you need help and press your eyes only a little bit –you can spot a volunteer –smilingly ready to help you in whatever way possible. That’s how the team of volunteers is working at Jaipur Literature Festival 2012 (JLF).
No big event, like JLF, is possible without support from volunteers. I have been at a number of events organized at a mammoth scale –but never before I have come across such dynamic and efficient team of volunteers.
When I was on my way to Jaipur to attend JLF my flight got delayed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. Pretty girls and handsome guys manning various customer service counters at the airport were of no help when I asked them for wheelchair assistance. Everyone tried to get rid of the people with special needs by saying that the relevant staff was on strike.
The scene, however, was totally different when I finally landed at the Sanganer Airport of Jaipur. About ten volunteers were very efficiently handling the JLF invitees. Not just the willingness but it was the eagerness to help that floored me. They all were working in a well coordinated fashion and were more than happy to go out of the way to help people.
I got prompt help from the ground transport management team of volunteers. Their coordinator, Suraj, is a wonderful person. It never took more than a phone call to make Suraj do necessary arrangements for my ground travel. Other folks in the team whom now I know by name are Deepansh, Ashish and Karan. Sometimes the level of courtesy these guys demonstrate becomes pleasantly embarrassing for me. If I need a car, I would make a call to Suraj –and he would promptly dispatch a guy to fetch me a car. First this volunteer would reach me in no time and introduce himself. Then he would run off to get me a car. If arranging a car and getting necessary clearance to cut through police barricades takes more than a few minutes –the volunteer would come back to me –apologize for the delay and ask me if I was comfortable while waiting. The volunteer would keep shuttling between me and the car’s locations in order to keep me updated of the status. Come on! This kind of work is not even done by 5-star trained staffers!
A friend of mine told me that, without taking credit away from these volunteers, such courtesy is part of Rajasthani culture and tradition. Several other instances, in which JLF volunteers were not involved, proved my friend’s words to be true. I feel that general public in Jaipur seems more courteous than the Delhiites.
Volunteers are present everywhere in JLF and are involved in every aspect of organization. And I must say that they have impressed me big time. I am glad to see such eagerness, dynamism, manners, courtesy and dedication for job in young folks. May this spirit remain and grow with time. These volunteers are backbone of JLF and they should be applauded for their work.