Benedict Jebakumar – The Magnet Man

Around 2011 when I started to travel on the ORR in Bangalore, I noticed a pattern of vehicles getting flat tyres when you drive on the left edge of the road and a lot of people queuing up at puncture stations further down the road. I stuck to the right and told everyone I knew to do the same. Was unlucky sometimes myself but definitely noticed a pattern. Benny did the same and also did something about it. He took to cleaning up the streets from the nail menace and has been doing since a long time. Here is what happened when the Magnet Man talked to Tiger!

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Hello Benny! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Benedict and people close to me call me Benny :). I am 41 years old. I am a Systems Engineer. I have 14 years of experience in the Systems Administration domain. My domain expertise is on Linux Administration. I have worked for great companies like Microland and Oracle. Currently I work as a Staff Systems Engineer in Intuit India Pvt. Ltd.

Where were you born? Tell me about your childhood.
My native place is Tuticorin in Tamilnadu. I spent all my childhood days in Tuticorin. As a child, I loved the beach and parks in Tuticorin. I used to be an active boy always doing something. I remember as a boy, I was attracted to fish, insects and other animals.

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What and where did you study?
I went to school and did my Under Graduation in my native place, Tuticorin. I completed my bachelor’s degree in Physics in the year 1994 and immediately started working as a Graduate Trainee in Sterlite Industries India Ltd in its Copper Smelter plant at Tuticorin. However, I wanted to continue my higher studies so I quit my job after working for 3 years and started my post-graduation studies. As a result, I moved out of Tuticorin for the first time to pursue my Masters Degree in Computer Applications in Karunya Institute of Technology in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. I completed my MCA in the year 2000.

What were your dreams like when you were a kid?
I had several dreams as a kid and I still have a dream 🙂 I was amazed by the mighty oceans and I wanted to be a captain of a ship. I completed a few courses related to Maritime jobs and attempted to join as a Deck Cadet in Merchant Navy. My attempts were not successful. The main reason I was fascinated by the Oceans is for what they have, FISHES. The only thing that has consistently attracted me and continues to attract is FISH. I don’t know what relation I have with fishes. I am simply obsessed with fish not for eating but for everything about them.  And my dream is to become an entrepreneur in fisheries by the year 2020.

Tell me about your present idea? The Nail Menace.
Let me provide some background to the activity I have been doing these days, which is combing off the nails from the road.

I relocated from Hyderabad to Bangalore in the year 2011 and in March 2012 I moved to my house, which is in Banashankari 3rd Stage. My Office is at Eco Space, Bellendur. I commute to my Office mostly by bi-cycle since I love cycling. One day I noticed a bunch of new shining cobbler nails on my way back to home from work. I picked them up but I was suspicious since there were many nails of the same type. From that day, I was little more watchful while driving. To my shock I once again saw the nails in the same week. I shared this information to a few of my friends but they did not believe. Over a period, the nail spreading activity started increasing. Back then, I very well remember seeing the same type of nails found on various stretches in the ORR between Silk Board and Eco Space in clusters. Initial days I used to pick up these nails using my hand and it will be painful when there are so many nails. I used to show these nails to my wife and children. And one day, my younger son suggested me his idea to use a magnet to collect these nails and readily offered  his toy magnet. From that day onwards, I started using magnet to collect these nails.

Though I was regularly collecting the nails from the ORR, I was not knowing what to do till I had a conversation with my friend, Mr. J Srinivasan !

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I still remember the conversation… I was complaining with a sorry tone showing the nails to him and saying “Look at this Sir, people are throwing nails on the road and I am repeatedly noticing these nails even after combing them off 😦 “” And then he gave me direction on what to do. He suggested me to post this information with supporting photos on the relevant Facebook pages of the authorities. He also said one thing… DON’T STOP POSTING TILL THEY STOP THROWING THE NAILS.

 

This one statement is the main driver behind my action of combing these nails from the road and informing the relevant authorities.

What is the name of your initiative?
I have a Facebook page by name My Road, My Responsibility. The main objective of this page is to spread the awareness of this nail menace to the public and to inform the relevant authorities through a central repository of all the relevant information and documented proofs.

I am learning and trying to be a responsible person and hence I chose this title.

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What keeps you going? I know all your efforts are for free.
I don’t sell but I get a lot more in return for whatever little action I have been taking. The main benefit I enjoy out of this action is the JOY of Service. When I realize that I am making a difference, however small it may be, to some unknown commuter by picking up these nails, I get immense happiness. By the way, by picking up these nails, first I help myself since I also use the same road 🙂

My friend inspired me with his words ‘DON’T STOP POSTING TILL THEY STOP THROWING THE NAILS’ and I believe my action may inspire some.

Tell me your best experience after you started your initiative.
It keeps me active and happy. My self-esteem is boosted since I know what I am doing is good. I get to know so many people through online interaction.

And mainly I don’t easily fall victim to flat tyres since I am aware of this issue and I am focused on the road while driving.

Tell me about your family and pets. Lewis is more a family member now?
I am blessed with a loving wife, Ratnalin and we have two adorable boys. The elder son is Jonathan and the younger one is Daniel. My family is the most precious gift to me from God. And we go together to places during weekend, which gives us lots of fun and happiness.

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I love fishes and we have some fishes in our home. They are very special to me. I also love animals. Presently we have an Indian Palm Squirrel with us and his name is Lewis. Lewis is with us for the last eight months and has become a member in our family.

A quote that influenced you.
The following are a few quotes that changed my life…
But for the grace of God,
Action is the magic word,
To Thy own self be true,
One day at a time.

Thank you Tiger for giving me this opportunity to share my story. God Bless.

You can read Benny at benedictjkumar@yahoo.com and like his page: My Road My Responsibility.

 

 

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