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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Being prepared - A short tale of Mani's brush with Zen

Mani was late today and had to run to catch his train. Stupid rains, he cursed, as he got into the First class compartment. All the seats were taken, but there was space to stand. Inside, he noticed a Maharashtrian family of four, husband-wife and two girls of aprox 3 & 5 yrs of age occupying one full seat. Experience told him the chance of getting a seat on their seat was higher and so he edged nearer to their seat, in the hope of grabbing it once the family got off. He got out his newspaper, folded it in one half and got busy in reading.

A while later, when he looked up he noticed that the family had suddenly gotten very busy.

The younger kid had vomited, and the poor father had his shirt & hands soiled badly. But he was silent & calm and said not one angry word nor stare at the already sheepish kid. The mother produced a newspaper to clean up the mess, then a bag of tissue papers, then four handkerchiefs, a water bottle and finally talcum powder and perfume. In no time, the mess was gone and the family was presentably clean and even smelling fresh.

Mani wryly made a mental note to stay away from people who were reeking with talcum powder/deo fragrances in future. But even Mani’s cynical and sleep deprived addled brain managed to notice queer thing. The couple never once reprimanded the kids. They didn’t even exchange that look of “Drat! What rotten luck!!”

Maybe the husband-wife duo was masters of Vipassana / Art of Living/ Zen etc. Maybe they are such devoted parents who never cringe and take on even hardships brought upon by their children with a smile. 

Or maybe, as the wise reader may reason, their calm demeanor was actually due to their being well prepared for such exigencies. This helped them cope better with the whole episode. They had proactively prepared themselves for similar eventualities and hence when the actual problem arose, they wasted no time in blame-fixing or ruing their fate, but swung into action to remedy the problems.

In other words, since they had chosen to respond (and not react) to such eventualities, that made the difference. Maybe, at times, being proactive means beginning to solve problems even before they have arisen. 

However, poor ignorant Mani, being still a bachelor and a simpleton, merely chuckled to himself and not bothering to ponder too much into such philosophical mysteries of life, went back to his newspaper.