Certain places and people can send you on a reflective trip.The pace slackens, mind starts unwinding, eyes turn dreamy, thoughts go philosophical, mood gets introspective and the journey is almost meditative. My sister’s place in Northern Kerala is one such. The house stands on a slightly elevated piece of land, the open veranda overlooks green patches of tapioca, bananas, coconut and arecanut trees, with a narrow stream of water running in between. Afternoons are cool and breezy, you don’t need a fan eeven in the heights of summer.
Languishing on the veranda after a sumptuous lunch, I often think about how different even close siblings can be. I was always a book worm, she would barely touch them even just before exams. Kitchen was an anathema for me, she loved being a home body. I was very clear what I wanted out of life, she was very clear on what she did not want in hers. She is a charming home maker, with a house that is devoid of clutter and dust, her two daughters serene and calm and a husband who is gentle and soft spoken. And here I am, balancing two lives, alteranting my ego between a busy professional and a mother and wife,running in, out and sometimes away from a house that seem to have been perenially hit by a whilrwind, a tornado and summer storm all rolled into one.
It makes me wonder, does our surroundings influence us or is it us that mould what is around us? One of the best holidays that we have gone on was to Red Hills, Ooty, more than six years ago. It is a 125 year old bungalow, far from the hustle and bustle of the now very commercial town, overlooking a lake that is aptly named ‘Emerald’.Owned by Vijay and Bhanu, one of the best hosts that I have ever come across, this is a place to get away from it all and reconnect with yourself. In places like this, I wake up early to savor those early morning hours of peace and serenity. Every day, I would see Vijay at sharp 7 AM, smartly dressed and sitting on the garden bench, in a seemingly contemplative mood with a faraway look in his eyes. Bhanu complemented him so perfectly, they were almost like the two sides of the same coin. Both gentle in their demeanour, courteous in their behaviour, impeccable in their bearing, they reflected the mood of the nature around their lovely home. It was as if they had turned into images of their surroundings.
We felt as if we were visiting close friends. The meals were served in their dining room, shared with the other guests. Those fond memories took us back there again after four years. The place had changed, with more rooms added in their property, meals were served in a restaurant like place that was added on, and we barely met the hosts. They seemed to have changed along with the atmosphere. The weather was still cool, but the hearts were turning cold. I believe they changed in tandem with their aspirations. What was once a joy for them had now become a business, and the guests had now turned into customers.
Isn’t that what happens to most of us? While trying to understand a process, we have been taught to ask 5 why’s to get to the root of any issue. What if we apply it to our life as well? Why do we run around so much? Yes, it is to make a good life. But then, what is the definition of a good life? Why do we want it? To keep us and our family happy? Why do you think they would be happy with more money?….The more you continue asking these questions, you will finally realize the futility of it all. When did we forget to be satisfied with our basic necessities and little bit of luxury here and there?
As our aspirations grow, the pace of our life also changes. Remember those days when everyone was back home early, a little bit of studies for the kids, an evening prayer and a dinner where all in the family sat around the table, talking for hours? How often do we do that now? We have turned into automatons without even realizing it. In the mad rush, do we even realize that the things that truly matter are passing us by? The wise ones have given us enough warnings, it is up to us whether to heed it or not.
(pictures courtesy – google images)