A conversation I had yesterday at tea with two of my colleagues whom I happen to be very good friends with made my brain whirl around a bit today on those simple pleasures of life that we usually take for granted. Perhaps it is because we lead such busy lives today, always engrossed in something or the other, or maybe we have just become too ‘complacent’ with the way things are, or we have gotten too desensitized to really take a moment to think and reflect on those things that just simply makes us happy.
Our conversation bordered around about how things were when we were kids, not having the latest toy or gadget in the market at hand, but nevertheless never actually ‘wanting’ more than our parents could afford to provide for us.There were no techno gadgets to go gaga over, not much of TV channels to watch in order for us to be ‘brainwashed’ into wanting and yearning for those things that were, simply put, out of reach back then unless of course your parents or family were super loaded.
Its the norm today to see parents go out on a limb to provide their children with all sorts of the latest gadgets and whatnot because at this day and age, a kid without those things in hand is one dare I say left out of the group of the “in kids”? I watch in awe these days when parents get their kids ready to go to school each year. Of course, every parent wants to provide the best of what they are able to for their children, but then I still think people take things a bit overboard, maybe more to do with ‘peer pressure’ than anything else. It has to be a certain type of bag that should be taken to school, a “theme” to which the book covers should be prepared and the list goes on. I remember a time when plain brown paper and a roll of cellophane got the job done, but then I guess I am just “ancient” in the way I think.
Back when I grew up, we tended to not get fussy when we wanted something that was way out of the price range of affordable goods. I don’t remember (maybe my memory is faulty here), about pestering my parents to buy me something just because one of the kids whose parents were lucky and able enough to afford it tended to have it. But it is quite the norm today to see kids throw tantrums of gigantic proportions because their parents have the gumption to say that at the moment buying the latest version of the iPad is not feasible when the child already has a vestige of such articles at his or her disposal.
Sometimes I think that the more you tend to ‘have’, the more jaded and dissatisfied your soul becomes. How on Earth is one to treasure, savor and take pleasure in what he has when the next thing he fancies comes into his possession without much ado? It is when one learns to be content with what one has that the art of appreciating and taking pleasure and happiness in what one has becomes the norm.
I still remember bits and pieces of my childhood with the fondest of memories. The earliest memories of myself as a child is one where I played on this little ‘hill’ of white sand at home, mostly some toys of the construction variety (I tended to be a bit of a tomboy), whiling hours away, engrossed with doing whatever it was that fascinated me about it in the first place.
Close at heel comes the memories of taking walks early in the morning. I am someone who used to go on long walks, all by myself, back in an ‘era’ when drug addicts and all sorts of junkies high on the latest drug didn’t crowd the streets and made walking alone on the roads a living nightmare. Neither were the streets of Male’ that crowded with vehicles and let me not forget, people who sometimes makes the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other on the overcrowded streets something of a challenge today.
Next comes the memories of my dad trying to teach me how to ride a bicycle. I still break into smiles when I recall how he used to get a little impatient with me because as soon as I saw something or someone coming my way, my bike refused to head in any other direction apart from what was coming or standing in my way. Needless to say, bike riding was something I barely mastered and in spite of that, sometimes I wish to go bicycle riding in the wee hours of the morning even now.
And last but not the least comes the memories of how my love affair with reading began. I used to and still lose myself in the pages of a book for hours, now it should be the digital pages on the iPad; such that my mom used to ‘scold’ at me for burying my nose in a book so deeply such that nothing that went around me registered on my mind. I used to practically gobble up books, reading two to three books in a day and going back to the library almost every single day to get new books to replace what I had already finished reading.
And I would be remiss if I were not to point out the delights of the simple yet filling fare that graced our dining tables then. The short eats mainly “Saatanuge gulha“, “Husnooge bajiyaa“, the “gulha” sold at Dharaage – all made by Maldivian hands I must add; and of course the “Bodu Biscoadhu” and also the very delectable “Kudhi Biscoadhu“. Oh and the “Juice Petty” and the lollies that we used to rush out to buy on blistering hot days; nothing even comes close to the feel and taste of the cold sweetness bursting into the mouth and taking away with it the thirst that begs to be quenched. And I should also mention the “Garudhiya” bowls that come from fresh fish, with everything from the liver to the “Dhon Bis” to the head of the fish that leaves a long lasting smell on the hands but nevertheless makes for very enjoyable and memorable meals. Food certainly seemed to taste better then, maybe the quality of products accounting for one of the reasons why everything used to taste better then.
To fill up the idle hours playing tag, hopscotch and the infamous dodge ball games that used to amuse us kids for hours are still memories I hold dear to me. Sometimes I wonder, where kids of the current generation are going to find memories to smile upon in perhaps 30 to 40 years time. Would they have anything simple as the contentment of taking a walk early in the morning, the fun of going for bicycle rides on the roads in the wee hours of the early morning and perhaps most of all, simple Maldivian food that I still recall and taste on my tongue if I close my eyes and concentrate on it just that much harder.
I sometimes find myself ‘pitying’ kids who grow up today, their days so mired with going from one tuition class to the next, engaged in earning the highest scores in the exam, passing time engrossed in the social media that hardly teaches one how to interact with each other in society etc that just sometimes seems to hint at a society that continues to distance itself more and more from the forms of interaction that enables us to feel, empathize and perhaps become better people along the way.
Kids today, if I am being whimsical enough about it, have no time on their busy and gadget infused schedules to stop and smell the roses, point being no one takes the time teach them to take five and just simply be. The pleasure of simply being, standing still for just a couple of seconds perhaps could be the beginning of learning the art of taking pleasure in the simple things in life.