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This year I went ‘pandal hopping’ during Ganesh Utsav to watch and enjoy and admire the wonderful displays put up by Ganesh Mandals. The entire city seemed to have converged into the so-called ‘old city’ that is home to the famous Ganesh displays. Young and old; men, women, children; boys and girls from all walks of life had turned up armed with walking shoes, water etc ready for a long walking spell.
The entire route was full of vendors selling all types of knick knacks, hoping to make a fast buck! There were bugles of all types, bubble blowers, flutes and – one thing that especially caught my eye – a set of battery powered ‘horns’ on a hair band that glowed and twinkled in the dark. Priced at a mere Rs 30, I happily wore it around and actually it served as a beacon signalling my position in the crowd. My family had no trouble spotting me thereafter!
The piece was a childish toy that may have made me look quite ridiculous. Yet no one in that crowd (I refer to the adults there) laughed at me as many themselves indulged in blowing bugles, blowing bubbles etc, and things we had done long long ago when we were children. Yet the few hours of indulging in such meaningless innocent fun left me totally rejuvenated.
That got me thinking. As children enter the schooling system and move upwards they get bogged down in studies, homework, extracurricular activities, classes of all types (some for school subjects, some to appease the parents’ hidden desires) that their ‘childhood’ is soon lost in a maze of time management, new goals to be achieved etc. This only increases as they move to junior college and then graduation and so on. By now they are firmly part of the rat race, keen to overtake all peers and reach the proverbial golden pot at the end of the rainbow. It may be in the form of a coveted job, and then it’s a new and better paying job. This applies to both girls and boys.
For girls, the pressure rises many-fold when they marry as they are expected to manage their jobs, homes, family relations and social commitments. We worry about domestic help, mother in laws, finding suitable grooms or brides for our kids, then worry about the new son-in-law or daughter-in-law… We babysit our grandchildren and somehow there is simply no time for anything else or ourselves.
Somewhere along this path, all of us forget to laugh at small things in life, enjoy the little pleasures, as we rush from one obligation or task to another. We hardly ever laugh out loudly. A child is said to laugh hundreds of times daily but adults only a few times. Yet as adults we seem to rarely laugh, and I mean really laugh.
That’s when I appreciated this quotation:
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing” – Michael Pritchard
There is an old saying that it takes many more muscles to frown and fewer to smile. Laughter has been proven to be a huge stress buster and can instantly help form bonds in a group of strangers. We need to revive the humour in our lives, keep the child alive in us. Enjoy small things. Laugh like a child. Look around. Get drenched in the rain, walk in the gushing rivulets that emerge everywhere, make a paper boat and let it sail down. Take your kids out and play hide and seek or ‘Seven Stones”. Play with the simple puzzles commonly available with food products and rejoice every point you win. Or as in my case, wear a glowing hair band and blow soap bubbles!
Pic credit: .Craig (Used under a Creative Commons license)