The recent terror attacks gave grace under pressure a new definition. Many went way beyond their job brief to become heroes as they risked their lives to put others first. V. D. Zende, the announcer at the CST railway station, directed a trainload of passengers to a safe exit before terrorists tried to gun him down. The Taj GM, Karambir Singh Kang, led his guests to freedom as his own wife and children perished.

What is it about a crisis that brings people together, making leaders out of ordinary people? Marathi actor Sonali Khare, recalls how the staff made the situation bearable the night they were stuck at the Zodiac Grill, on the ground floor of the Taj with around 45 others. She says, “The staff was so sweet and hospitable throughout. My husband also tried to lighten the mood by joking constantly and opening wine bottles.” At one point, when her strapping sixfeet-tall husband wanted to try making an exit through the main door not far away, he was stopped by a short, young Taj employee. She recounts, “The girl, Gunita, insisted that she would be the one leading us out and risking the bullet. She refused to let us out till she got an all-clear from the security personnel of the hotel. She and the others went way beyond the call of duty.”

Sushant Kamath, of the Mumbai bar Bootlegger’s, talks about how complete strangers bonded as they caught the news on television and called their homes when gunshots shook the bar. He says, “The gunmen left from CafĂ© Leopold, firing all the time, before going to Nariman House nearby. We pulled down the shutters but could hear continuous firing all night long. We felt helpless, but angry. We wanted to stand up and fight.”

Delhi-based cosmetic dentist Aman Sapra recalls the day of the blasts in September this year. He found himself stuck in a cafe in Connaught Place along with several others. He says, “Some people’s cellphone batteries were dead and others loaned theirs so they could call their families.”

A Mumbai journalist recalls the 2006 Mumbai train blasts, when a lone voice of reason saved several lives in his compartment. He boarded the 5.54 p.m. Churchgate to Borivli train like any other day. However, there was a thud, followed by smoke billowing from the coach ahead that told them there was something wrong. Some people tried to jump off the train, but, “A man stopped us. He said we should wait till the train stopped or we could be injured.” When it finally stopped at Mahim, they discovered that many others had jumped to their death from the moving train.

Says corporate trainer Khushroo Pithawalla, who conducts team bonding workshops, “At these times, we go beyond our fears and insecurities. Complete involvement in what needs to be done in the moment is like a deep meditative state that people pursuing the spiritual path aspire for.”

He explains, recalling his flying days when he risked his life to save a friend in trouble, “The high level of attentiveness in these situations saved both of us.”

However, while teams can push each other to excel, it can work the other way too. Not too long ago, the celeb contestants of the show Big Boss did an “escape” by jumping the walls of the house. They later blamed it on the moment, and were willing to take the rap for the act.

According to a study on “imitative obesity”, the weight of those around you can subconsciously cause yours to yo-yo too. So, fat friends can cause someone to put on weight too, researchers suggested after surveying over 27,000 people from across Europe.

Advises Pithawalla, “A group that does not push each other towards self realization can never form strong bonds.” It’s performing well together in a crisis situation and beyond that bonds people, and creates memories for life.