2021 comes to a close, and what a frantic and extraordinary year it has been, in both senses. Thanks to the pandemic and our economic conditions, it has been extraordinarily difficult. But once again, our readers have shown us that they can be extraordinarily kind, graceful and inspirational, even in the toughest of times.
Every year, it only reinforces why we at TBI are doing this – the highlight the positive change that ordinary Indians are making every day. And this year, our resolve was only strengthened, as we were almost overwhelmed by the heroes who emerged from every corner of the country, across every sector.
From small innovators taking their first step to building global brands, to simple farmers showing how organic food has a profitable future, to students and interns running helplines for thousands of needy patients – every day has been a revelation.
As usual, now that the year is done, we are taking a look at the stories you loved the most throughout the year. This list features five of your favourites, but it is not a direct ‘most read’ list. Many times, what was ‘most read’ was not what triggered inspiration or impact. For example, many of our most-read stories had to do with medical resources and advice during the deadly second wave of COVID. Others were for jobs or advice for various exams.
Keeping those aside, we chose five stories that generated the most feedback and led to the most impact. These are the stories that saw hundreds of emails and comments, with many choosing to make changes in their own lives, thanks to what they read here.
Here they are:
Not A Single Branch Was Cut To Build This Three-Storey House On A 40-Foot Mango Tree
Imagine being able to pluck fresh mangoes without having to move from bed. Or waking up to the sounds of birds right next to you, with their nests built inside your bedroom.
For most of us, this sounds like a scene out of a Disney movie. But for Ajmer-born businessman Kul Pradeep Singh and his family, this is an everyday reality — their house is built atop a 40-foot mango tree!
This three-storey treehouse has two bedrooms, a kitchen, a library and a living area and is located in Udaipur. “The area where our treehouse stands is known for its fruit trees. People used to sell these fruits from over 4,000 trees for a living. But due to an increase in population, they started cutting the trees down,” he explains.
This treehouse has found its name in the Limca Book of Records and is visited by many tourists. So the next time you visit Udaipur, along with the beautiful forts and palaces, add this fantastic treehouse to your itinerary.
India’s First E-Scooter That Doesn’t Come With Batteries, Requires No Charging
Earlier this month, Bounce, a Bengaluru-based electric mobility startup, launched its first consumer electric scooter, Bounce Infinity E1, which comes with a unique feature. This is India’s first e-scooter that doesn’t necessarily come with batteries and thus needs no charging. Offered with a ‘battery as a service’ option, this e-scooter will be available to consumers at Rs 45,099 (Delhi ex-showroom), while they can pre-book it for a refundable amount of Rs 499. Deliveries are slated for March 2022 through its dealership network and its online platform.
But what does a ‘battery as a service’ option entail? The Better India spoke to Vivekananda Hallekere, the CEO and co-founder of Bounce to understand this unique feature.
“The recently launched Bounce Infinity E1 offers a unique ‘Battery as a service’ option – the first-of-its-kind in the Indian market. Here, customers have the choice of acquiring the Bounce Infinity E1 at an affordable price with ‘battery-as-a-service’ and using Bounce’s battery swapping network instead. Customers pay for battery swaps, whenever they swap an empty battery with a fully-charged one from Bounce’s swapping network. This pushes the running costs of the scooter down substantially, by as much as 40% compared to conventional scooters,” he claims.
A Simple Step Helped Me Diagnose a Deadly Cancer 2 Weeks Early, Saved My Life
In early 2021, Meher Roy was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia (ALL) in the nick of time by a routine standard blood test- the Complete Blood Count (CBC). ALL is a type of blood and bone marrow cancer known for its rapid progression.
“Ideally, a CBC is a routine automated test. However, if an unusual discrepancy is found in the readings, the blood work is analysed by a human pathologist under the microscope. In my case, that’s what happened,” he tells The Better India.
Ordinarily, one would expect such a cancer diagnosis to come thanks to severe symptoms or life-altering experiences. But Meher’s story began and continues today because of a simple alteration in the body – an increased resting heart rate. Meher’s story is an example to us all – let’s keep an eye on our bodies and take steps when something goes wrong.
Naturals Ice Cream: How a Fruit Vendor’s Son Built a Rs 300 Crore Empire
It was an unusual combination of selling Pav Bhaji and fruit-flavoured ice creams to the ever-growing population of Bombay (now, Mumbai) in 1984, but Raghunandan Srinivas Kamath was au courant with India’s dessert obsession. He had worked in his brother’s South Indian eatery long enough to know how much Indians love to end a meal on a sweet note.
The simple idea of offering something cold after a hot and spicy dish worked and he clocked a revenue of Rs 5,00,000 in the first year from his own tiny 200-sq-ft shop in Juhu’s Koliwada area. A year later, he stopped selling Pav Bhaji to become a full-fledged ice cream brand. The modest eatery with six tables was now offering frozen dessert in five flavours — sitaphal (custard apple), Kaju-draksh (cashew-raisin), mango, chocolate and strawberry.
Fast forward to 2021, the single ice cream parlour has grown into 135 outlets in various cities, offering an average of over 20 flavours at a given time. This is the story of Natural Ice Cream that recorded a retail turnover of Rs 300 crore in the financial year 2020 and was named as India’s Top 10 brand for customer experience in a KPMG survey.
Who Is Devendra Jhajharia, the Olympic Gold Medallist India Forgot
Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajaria epitomises an invincible spirit. The now 40-year-old track athlete has always perceived the glass half full, bringing home one laurel after the other despite unimaginable challenges.
Jhajharia is the only Indian to have ever won two gold medals at any Olympic or Paralympic games – one at the 2004 Athens Paralympics and another at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. He has held a world record (62.15m in javelin throw) and is the first para-athlete to be given the prestigious Padma Shri. In 2004, he was also awarded the Arjuna Award for his contribution to the field of sports in the country.
This is a story of tragedy and victory. And a must-read.