Saturday, September 24, 2016

Innocence

Recently I had been to my sister’s place to attend a function. Quite a few families were present in full and we had a good time catching up on our lives.  Among the juniors were four of my grand-nieces and a little grand-nephew who had just turned a year recently.  Being the youngest, he was the centre of attraction even for the elders, but the girls took him away like a prized toy and were thoroughly engaged with him in a separate corner of the house.

I was given the responsibility of stealing a few candid shots, and so I was quietly standing in a corner and watching them, not even showing my presence to them.

As I was watching, I could see that the elder two girls had taken complete control of the baby boy’s ownership, not allowing the younger ones to even get near to him.   The third one somehow cajoled and managed to get into the team.  The youngest of the lot, just about 5 years old, was left out, branded being not ‘old enough’ to handle the child!

She was naturally disappointed and was in tears.  Looking around, she caught me standing at a distance.  On seeing me, she quickly controlled her tears, broke away from that group and came to me, inviting me to play with her!  I was amazed at her composure, confidence and self-awareness (not pride, mind it) at that young age, and readily agreed.

I told her that it is quite long since I played at all, and very long since I played with children.  So, she would have to tell me what we were going to play, and the rules of the game. “OK” she said, “I will teach you.  Let us play hide and seek, because it is very easy.  All you have to do is face the wall and begin counting until I find a place to hide, and then you have to come and find me!  It is that easy.”

“All right,” I agreed, and asked her “how much should I count?”  She thought for a moment, and said, “up to 39?”  I don’t know why she arrived at such an odd number I could not control my smile.  I turned to face the wall and asked her to hide.  I counted loudly enough for her to hear that I was not cheating her, and on counting up to, yes, 39, I asked her, “can I start looking for you?”

Pat came the reply from behind the shelf-door, “yes, you can!”

Needless to say, I sank deep into her innocence and continued playing with her for at least half an hour, by which time the elder kids who had earlier excluded her came one by one asking her if they could  join the game!  I felt proud when she asked me if we could take them in!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Less is More


Some time back, I got an image message on WhatsApp from my niece Aarthi, who always sends beautiful messages and amazing videos – god knows where she gets them from. This particular message was a neat small square box which just read “Less is More”.  Nothing less, nothing more (pun intended)! It looked funny and contradictory, but on that day I did not have either the time or the mind to delve deep into it.
Later on, I came across incidents or experiences that taught me how true a statement it is.  Depending on the incident, you can wear a perspective lens that suits the context.  Let me explain.
I go to work on a two-wheeler, and as a time conscious person who doesn’t want to be labelled “Mr Late”, I am always on the search for better routes to reach my office which is a cool 25 km from home.  Of late, after the schools reopened after summer this year, I found that the roads on which schools are located got choked more tightly than previous years.  It took only 25 minutes to cross 15 km from home, but once you touch the school road, the next 200 meters took almost 10 minutes!  So I had to find routes devoid of school traffic, and eventually did, with the result that in order to save 10 minutes, I had to travel a kilometer and a half extra!  So, less time meant more distance!  Perspective lens: Time and Distance.
On the annual pilgrimage I take to Sabarimala, this year I forgot to pack the usual thin bedsheet which is used to position the “irumudi”.  So I had to buy one at the shop opposite to the temple. I bought a nice, strong bedsheet.  As I started my way up Neelimalai from Pamba, little did I realise that each gram of its weight would pull me down so much, adding significant exasperation to the already grueling climb uphill. By the time I reached Saranguthi past Appachimedu, the 1-2 kg cloth felt like 10 kg!  Second realisation.  Perspective lens: Ageing, gravity.
One the way back after an excellent darshan – in fact, several excellent darshans over the two days, the same bedsheet had to be carried separately on hand, as other things of importance occupied a place of preference in my shoulder bag.  Though not heavy now, as we were only climbing down, it sure was an inconvenience holding the bedsheet on hand as compared to walking with free hands.  Therefore, I decided to give it away to one of the needy people.  Within a few minutes, I could find an old lady begging for alms, who was only too willing to accept the bedsheet.  She was happy, I was relieved. Less luggage, more comfort.  Perspective lens: convenience.  Less possession, more satisfaction.  Perspective lens:  compassion.
It also made me think of the number of poor people we have in this country who are in need of help.  They have less, they are more and their needs are more.  Perspective lens: wealth, number.
Yesterday, as it has been long since I saw my grand-daughter, I made a trip to Madipakkam where she lives. I must have spent two hours there, playing with her, helping with her drawing and doing puzzles with her.  Time just flew, two hours felt like two minutes.  What seemed so less – two minutes – was actually more – two hours. Less boredom, more activity.  Perspective lens: engagement,
And the distance I had to traverse to make this visit – another 25 km extra for the day – seemed nothing.  Perspective lens: affection.
I am sure one could find so many ways this simple message can hold true.  As I am thinking and writing on these lines, I am also awestruck by the revelation that such a simple, small message opening up my mind to so many thoughts, leading to the final realization of this post: less words, more interpretation! Perspective lens: introspection, exploration.

Thanks, Aarthi.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Haiku


The haiku that occurred in my mind as I saw this on my way to work:
The biggest bouquet
in Nature's hands
Gulmohar