“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
~ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Some mornings an elderly van driver guides me while I reverse my car out of the parking lot. After helping me, he would eagerly wait for my eyes while I settle down. I would then smile at him, hand-signal my thanks and ‘vola,’ he would return an open toothy smile like a million watts bulb. #Happiness #Gratitude
Overheard at a cafe.
“So your wife doesn’t know that you smoke?”
“I behave as if i don’t even know the existence of a cigarette and she pretends as if the odour in my clothes came from a French perfume. Our secret to a happy married life.”
“But nobody ever forgot anything, not really, though sometimes they pretended, when it suited them. Memories were permanent. Sorrowful ones remained sad even with the passing of time, yet happy ones could never be recreated – not with the same joy. Remembering bred its own peculiar sorrow. It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain.”
~ Rohinton Mistry, “A Fine Balance” | Art by Joanne Harris
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
~ Mary Oliver | Art by Dominique Fortin
Last Saturday I was invited to speak at “The Bliss Catchers” conducted by Avis Viswanathan in association with the Odyssey book shop. The event brings people from all walks of life who have managed to catch the elusive bliss. Avis and his partner Vaani Anand lead the event series. I have known both of them for several years. He is the author of the book “Fall like a rose petal.” The book is a series of letters to his children, which are a set of confessions dealing with the raw aspects of living especially the situations when one faces financial losses and bankruptcy. Both in his book and when you meet him, you will never find a person gunning for your sympathy, but someone who is happy, warm and always seeing the sunny side to every racquetball thrown at him.
“The Bliss Catchers” event is about sharing our insecurities, challenges, moments of bliss and sources of inspiration. Avis is an able moderator who keeps the conversations focused on these topics firmly on the rails and strictly adheres to wrapping the evening within 90 minutes. With the support of Ashwin T S of Odyssey the event has now become a hit. My session on Saturday was a full house inspite of the rains.
The event is organized normally between 7 and 8:30 pm on the last Saturday of every month at Odyssey Bookstore in Adyar, Chennai. Do follow him or Odyssey’s page for future events.
I hear so much cynicism these days. There is fear of losing work, status, money, health and relationships. We are in hard unpredictable times. But a wise old lady at the corner of my street has a secret that might carry us through. “You have answers to all that’s troubling you. You have lived this life a million times and the cure to your problem will appear when you really need it. Stop fearing, stop thinking, stop comparing, start living,” she says. “Your muscle knows more than your brain.” Before I could grasp the prophecy, she takes a tenner from my hand and winks at me before she leaves.
An elderly gentleman sat next to me at a restaurant this morning. He was dressed in a spotless white shirt and could have been in his seventies but his face looked tired. He ordered for an ‘onion rava dosa’ and requested the server that instead of sambhar he be given extra cups of chutney. In a matter of few minutes, the plate was emptied and his face shined like his plate which glistened with a fresh coat of ghee polish. He now ordered for a plate of ‘butter murruku’ and ‘pineapple kesari.’ The server’s eyebrows arched like an inverted ‘V’ in surprise on hearing his order. The gentleman did not approve of the server’s reaction and looked at me instantly if I shared the server’s surprise, but I maintained a straight face.
It took a while for his next order to arrive. At this time, he gently tapped his fingers on the table while he sung a slow tune in a low voice.
The dessert, ‘pineapple kesari’ looked tempting with small bits of pineapple and came in a small bowl along with a plate of savoury ‘nei murukku.’
The gentleman dug into the dessert straightaway without wasting a second. Both the server and I waited to see his reaction, who had now become oblivious of his surrounding, completely immersed in the ‘kesari’ experience.
After a moment, his eyes lit-up in ecstasy and all the three of us exchanged our smiles sharing his joy.
“What film did you watch sir?”
I was returning after a late night movie at the Phoenix Mall in Mumbai. I was sleepy and disappointed at having seen a crappy movie. The chatty taxi driver continued, “you should have seen ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’. It will make you believe in hard work.” Was he hinting that I wasn’t working hard enough? But he should be a very intuitive psychic to figure that out in such a short time I wondered.
The driver was short, stocky and must be easily in his sixties.
“I have been driving taxi for the past thirty years and I still work atleast 15 hours a day. My son left today to America to do MS. We all went for this movie the day before he left. He is a good boy. My hard work has paid off sir, I am very happy,” and he turned back to look at me with a beaming proud smile.
Life is beautiful.