03 Jan
  • By Tush R Dauthal

The man on a mission

You don’t need to panic if someday you get to see a famous cartoonist, novelist, painter and a national award winning writer of short stories, novels, plays, children’s books and travelogues.

“If I can, you can” says Aabid Surti, the man behind the headlines of tomorrow. The passion and urge to serve the society, of this man won’t let his age deter him from working. The founder of the Drop Dead Foundation is on his toes for years now to save tonnes of water daily.


In the era of this developing world, where everyone is busy debating about the situation of the water crisis and water pollution, this 80 year old man has been going door to door in the localities of Mumbai and has been repairing the leaking taps and pipes. Though it’s astounding to hear such a respectful and awarded man doing such a job but to look upon the idea, he’s doing a much better job than all of us.


Aabid has written 80 books and seven plays, hosted 16 exhibitions of his paintings, and created much adored comic characters like Dabbuji, Bahadur and many more. In 1993, this versatile artist also received a National Award for his short story collection, Teesri Aankh.

“Though I was born to a well-off family, my childhood was spent on the pavement, because our family had lost everything,” Aabid says.

Ask him why has he been taking up such incredible job of the Drop Dead, and he tells you “It was the childhood trauma. I was brought up on the pavement. There was a fight for every drop of water. Every bucket we had to fight for. And that legacy stayed with me. Once, when I went to a friend’s place, I saw one of the taps leaking, and it hurt me.”


Ever since that first leaking tap he saw, the journey has been no ordinary. In the first year of the Foundation’s existence, in 2007, he had visited 1666 houses on Mira Road, fixed 414 leaking taps free of charge, and saved about 4.14 lakh litres of water.

“We target one building every Monday — any big building or apartment complex, especially in the ghettos, where poor people live in a chawl system or similar housing societies. So we target these, and on Mondays my volunteer visits there, talks to the secretary, and if the secretary agrees, we put up our posters. From Monday till Saturday, people keep on seeing the posters, ‘Drop Dead,’ ‘Drop Dead,’ all over – these words keep on hammering at them. And then, on Saturday, we distribute our pamphlets describing what the Drop Dead Foundation is and why we are coming this Sunday to their houses. Finally, on Sunday, we go and fix the leaks,” Aabid explains.


He stands high with the perfect example of how the life starts after 70 and one can live happily at this stage of life too. “And this is the life I am living” he says.

He has a message for the teenagers who call themselves the future of the world.

He says, “It is the company of young people, today’s teenagers. When I was eight or nine years of age, all my friends were in their 30s. Now I have reversed the process. I have teenagers as friends. It’s the new thoughts and new ideas that they come up with and the way they talk (because our culture is different, their culture is different), one learns a lot from them. I am also learning.”


Let’s celebrate him and work with the same passion and double energy. If you liked him, help me know to bring to you more people who inspire like him in the comments. Like this blog and follow to hear more from the blind man.

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Tush R Dauthal

I’ve been into writing for giants like times of india and many others…. As a blogger I would like to call me up as a public interest blogger as I take up causes from public interest. My novel as a debut author is going to release soon.