Million Dollar Smile of Rickshaw Puller

It was freezing cold night of December. We came out of local restaurant at 2200 hours after feasting the scrumptious food and started searching for a cab to go back to hotel wandering through narrow streets of Amritsar. The street was almost empty with few local vendors selling favourite dessert of India, Gulab Jamun in tiny kiosks.  We decided to walk to hotel but looking at the distance and newness to the city, we gave up the idea.

Trawling, we reached the middle of the street where we found a man sitting on the threshold of the stairs of one house. We asked him if he can guide us so that we can reach to hotel. He suggested hiring a rickshaw instead of searching the cab. A rickshaw puller was standing few steps away. A man called him and asked him to drop us to the hotel.  At first, we were unwilling but the man assured us that he will drop us safely. Moreover the rickshaw puller was known to him and he used to ferry school kids from the same street.

The rickshaw puller was an old man who must be in late sixties. He wore a turban and had a long beard. He was wearing a check shirt and his trousers were tattered. With a small piece of cloth, he dusted the rexine seat and gestured us to sit with broadest grin. We both sat and set off towards the hotel.

He was not wearing socks and pedaling with great difficulty through sleepers. My friend suggested him to take rest for a minute or so as he looked exhausted.

Madam, let me drop you both to hotel first. I will go back to my home and will sleep

This worked as an ice breaker to beat the taciturnity. Conversations started. While pedaling, he talked about his family, his children and asked us about our whereabouts. Seconds and minutes passed and we reached hotel within fifteen minutes.

And he said  :-

I will go only once you both get inside the hotel as the road is deserted

We were touched by his caring and considerate nature and gifted him extra pennies. Though money cannot the surpass the value of strong value system and genuine concern for humanity, yet earning extra money after backbreaking work for the day can make anyone feel contented.

With a broad smile that highlighted wrinkles under his eyes, he raised his arms, touched our forehead with his palms offering blessings and departed, grinning cheerfully.

Please also read  :- Different shades of happiness

 

The Harmandir Sahib

Awe struck, I watch the Golden Temple at night listening to holy chants of Guru Granth Sahib. The glistening reflection of the temple on the Holy Sarovar mesmerizes me.The Holy music makes being played fills the air with divinity.

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Darbar Sahib surrounded by Holy Tank (Amrit Sarovar)

Be it night or morning, the spectacular Darbar Sahib always enthralls. Tourists from all over the globe visit this revered site of Sikhism

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The Holiest, the most revered Gurudwara of Sikhism

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Spirit of Friendship

In life you come across strangers who leave indelible impact on you. Some become part of your lives while some exit leaving marks of bad or good memories. Through this blog I try to recollect entry of a person whose existence has become an integral part of my life.

February 2011– I was doing the customary work, checking and responding to few urgent mails, prioritising things. The day at work had just started when someone with hefty voice called out my name – “Hey Ruchi!!!” I turned around my chair to look & saw my line manager standing with new entrant.

Manager- Hi, meet our new joinee!!! She will buddy up with you to learn the process flow. Just make her feel comfortable

Me- Alright Boss. Do you want me to share the training calendar?

Manager- Leaving it to you. Just see how you want to take it further.

Me- Sure

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Well at first glance, she appeared to be a plain Jane. Yet she had the charm that exuded. Her black frizzy locks were nicely tied. She wore glasses that suited her face structure. Confident & tall, she smiled & looked at me. We greeted each other in a formal way. I don’t remember fully how the first meeting went. May be she sat only for a moment & left then & there to meet others. May be she spoke about her professional background & work experience.  Little did I know that the girl who seemed just a colleague for me might become a confidante one day 🙂 Honestly, even it didn’t bother me much to know more about her as she appeared another new joiner to me.

Few days passed on. She took on her role & got adjusted really well. She had her own gang of so called “coffee friends” with whom she visited cafeteria. We never spoke much except greeting each other at the start of the day.

Yes it all started over a cup of coffee

Pondering over some personal issue in office lounge, I felt relaxed as I sipped coffee. There was a complete silence which was broken by someone’s entry. And guess who that person was??? Yes, you are right. She stood there beaming that filled the air with positivity

She- Hi, how have you been?

Me- I am very well. Howz you?? How has been the experience so far?

She- Umm, pretty well!!! What has been worrying you? You look perplexed.

Me- Naah, all well. It’s been a hectic week though.

She- Hmm, You know your face is a true reflection of your feelings. You can’t hide them. I can sense that there is something that is bothering. Do you want to talk? Believe it or not, you will feel better thereafter.

Me- Alrightyy. Thanks for your concern

She cracked a joke to which we both guffawed and that was first time when our communication extended beyond the simple greetings.

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Later, we started going together to office lounge for grabbing a cup of tea. Amongst the group of corporate slaves, I have found a superb friend who stood out from all of them in every aspect. Be it persona, jovial nature. We got along really well. Days & months passed on but the bond got strengthened. We laughed together, moaned together.

2012 was a turning point in my life. Just when I was about to leave the organisation in pursuit of better opportunity, the feeling of going away from someone surrounded me. The stories we both shared over a cup of tea, laughs and jokes. Those were to become the things of the past. But destiny had decided something else for both of us. Couple of days before my last working day, she too received a call from the same organisation which I was about to join and…

There she stood with the offer letter. She joined week later. Problems enveloped our lives which we both couldn’t have envisaged. She had her own share of life and I too had my own share. Over this period of time, we extended support to each other and the bond became unbridgeable.

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This doesn’t mean that this story was full of roses. We too had disagreement on many issues. But that’s how relationships grow. You need to adapt & understand other person’s viewpoint if you really want things to work out. Things have changed a lot. She is now married to a guy who loves her to core of his heart. She still loves tea. However I have developed fascination towards green tea. After having worked together from 4 years, I moved to another organisation. Though we do not get to see each other every day, but we make it a point to keep meeting & stay connected.

Friends are second family to all of us. We are not related by blood to them but they become important part of our lives. Cherish each and every memory spent together with your friends.

With this in my mind, I tried to recall few memories of our valued friendship. I am sure you too will have certain memories to share. Drop in your messages. Would love to hear from you.

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A Stroll to Remember

Lush green grass, blooming colourful flowers, fitness freaks, joggers, children playing in groups, people walking their dogs, parents enjoying the company of their toddlers… Off course anyone can visualize the scene of being in a park. Let’s not talk about the verdant beauty. Through this blog post I would like to recall few memories and talk about how people use this place as a meeting point for discussing various issues, what’s new in other’s lives, how to master the art of cooking and so on.

Last week, while sitting idle at home, I decided to take a stroll at a nearby park.

So dressed in my tracks & favourite shoes, here I was to run with great vigour & enthusiasm.

The green clad place looked beautiful. It was rejuvenating for the eyes to look at the blooming flowers. The aroma of roses filled the air. The place, which was thought to be calm and serene, turned out to be a fish market with people coming for different purposes.

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My speed slowed down as group of ladies discussing about pasta were taking short steps while walking. Forget about Master Chef India or Master Chef Australia. Why search for new recipes on you tube, google when you have the experts with you. To them, a visit is no less than a kitty party. It was no less than a competition to show their supremacy, as a cook, over other contenders. And, then we discovered the Punjabi version of pasta. If David Rocco, Italian chef, had been there, he would have either died of maniac attack because of enough experiment done to pasta or he would have welcomed the idea.

The focus of discussion moved from discovering ways to prepare pasta to tips on weight management. Quite unusual though,huh!!!. A minute ago, a group that was discussing about putting extra cheese or oil to make a dish scrumptious, now turned fitness conscious. One of the ladies got my attention that was constantly worrying about her weight gain. She was groaning about putting on 2 kilograms in a week and how her kids constantly reminded her of hitting a gym or spare an hour for yoga from her busy schedule which, most of time, is spent watching the teleserials. Ironically, she was the one who was advising the group of putting extra cheese, consuming aerated drinks daily. With heavy bosom, ballooned and bulging belly, sagging arms, she was proceeding with tiny steps along with her comrades. Enough of the recipe classes for me. I decided to dodge the group to continue for the purpose I came for.

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Stepping ahead, my attention was grabbed by congregation of people who were laughing horrendously. And they called it Laughter Therapy. I could sense the differences in the modulation of their laughter. Few were laughing raising their hands upwards while other, still amateur, and new to the group, tried to emulate the tactics followed by the experienced ones. I gazed at a confused novice who stood confused wondering who to follow as everyone was following his own chores. Shrewdly, he moved out of the area smartly without having caught anyone’s attention. Taking a deep sigh of relief as he outsmarted others in escaping, the man sat on a bench and started chanting closing his eyes trying to meditate.

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The other patch was covered by the small group of enthusiasts trying to master the art of yoga. Most of them being potbellied were concerned about shedding those extra inches from the flabs. In an effort to develop flat abs within a day, one of the man fell down while doing asanas.

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As dusk did set in, I decided to head towards home when a couple caught my attention. Hiding themselves somewhere in the corner amidst bushes, they caught my attention through public display of affection. Though they cuddled with complete precision, but as they say, such couples can be easily traced though escaping from the eyes of joggers. Though people gazed at them, yet they did not bother and were romancing with audacity. And as they say, love has no boundaries. The girl blushing and embarrassed as they were caught, tried to slide the fringes, falling on her forehead.

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Having encountered a lot in an hour’s time, I stepped out of the park churning the rusty revolving gate. That was the end of the story. Extremely amused, I narrated the scenes to my mother once I came back home. I went to a park with a different purpose, to burn extra calories, to shed some pounds. But the hour spent their turned out to be comical that tickled my funny bones.

Each one of us must have come across such people. Let’s put those in categories. There could be mater chefs of the moment, reporters of the day or laughter therapists. Share your experiences too.

 

Early Morning View at Calangute Beach

I took this picture early morning at Calangute Beach, Goa during monsoon. Though it was monsoon and cloudy. Yet we planned to visit Calangute beach early morning to try our luck to watch sunrise. Completely oblivious of the fact that sea can look equally beautiful without glistening sun rays; we set out at 5:30 AM. The street was empty and we could only hear chirping of birds and swishing of trees while walking. As we reached near Calangute beach, we could hear the whispering of waves as they crashed upon the shore. The marvelous view left us speechless and spellbound. The sea presented its super gorgeous avatar of majestic deep blue ocean engulfed with fluffy batches of cloud .The sky had become black and nature was at its best. Dark clouds appeared on the horizon. Birds were flying up; some seeking shelter as they sensed that it is going to rain while others were flying high in elation. Mesmerized by the splendour of Mother Nature, we sat with legs folded when few drops felt on us. Soon it started raining. We kept constantly looking at the rising waves galloping in harmony . The sea presented contrasting shades with water looking crystal clear from the horizon while looking blue near the shoreline.

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Happiness Comes in Waves

 

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Man sauntering along the shoreline

Different Shades of Happiness

In October 2017 I visited Dilli Haat with my mother to enjoy the organic food festival. We walked through various stalls and bought some organic stuff. It was at one of the stall, while buying lemongrass, when she already handed over the money to the vendor, she changed mind and decided not to buy the same. Without realizing that she hasn’t taken the money back, she politely refused the vendor and started walking with small steps. She must have walked few steps ahead when a quaint voice stopped her “Mam you forgot your money”.

Customary, my mother collected the money, appreciated him for his integrity and honesty. The vendor, a young boy hailing from Uttrakhand, became the hero for us. The mere thought that honesty still prevails and people do have strong value system made both of us happy.

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While travelling in metro last week, a small kid boarded metro with his mother and started roaming. People were enamored by his innocence, his gullible acts. He would walk few tiny steps, look around so that he is being noticed and would giggle if someone is looking at him. Travelers also reciprocated by smiling back at him. The dull, soundless coach suddenly turned active as the kid’s activities were engaging enough to make co passengers grin. Few laughed; few chuckled while few offered blessings to the little bundle of joy for breaking the monotony.

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We often forget small gestures or acts that make us happy; the acts that make us smile. We do come across or experience many acts or deeds that make us smile or happy. I call them different shades of happiness, different nuances of happiness.

This reminds me of small anecdote. Last year I visited old age home with my mother. I still remember an encounter with an old lady who was in her late seventies. The room, well maintained, had stuff enough to meet bare necessities of life. She was busy in daily chores when the sound of rusty door disturbed her attention. Irritated by someone’s entry she turned back and looked towards the door with an eye of suspicion. The care taker introduced her to me and mom. She welcomed us by smiling. Her wrinkled and sagging face was denoting the experiences she must have encountered. She was little hesitant to talk at first. Soon she started sharing her memories about childhood, marriage. She made one statement that just zapped me,”Its been two years and nobody has come to meet me”. The air was filled by palpable silence. Within fraction of seconds, once she said this, she embraced me tightly. My eyes got filled with shy tears trembling around lashes.No one could have explained better how terrible it is to live alone, to keep waiting for someone to come and meet than her. After few minutes, we decided to depart. She bade adieu to us, offering blessings. As I was about to step out of threshold, I turned to see her reaction. She grinned and waved her hand. I could see a spark of happiness in her eyes filled with melancholy. Reciprocating her gesture, we came back.

Also read- Memories Never Fade

Old and Young

However, I kept mulling the entire day over a basic question-What is happiness???

In life we often concentrate on attaining happiness through big success that we forget to enjoy the joy brought by little achievements in life. The smile on old lady’s face after meeting us who was living alone was nothing but simple act that turned her ecstatic.

How would a starving child react on being offered a platter of food. He would smile at you as food has brought smile on his face.

Have you ever fed birds in the morning?? Have you ever helped an old man cross the pavement who is in mid- eighties and can barely walk without stick? These are simple acts of kindness that spread joy to the world. To me happiness is not only doing good deeds to make someone smile but deeds that make you smile as well.

                                        WHAT IS HAPPINESS TO YOU??