We were standing at the bus stop, waiting anxiously for the bus. Now, Vidur always teases me about never being able to stand still in one spot. Purely a case of the pot calling the kettle black..but that’s another story.
So – I generally tend to keep hopping on and off the sidewalk – alongside which the bus stops.
It is a great guessing game because the bus will not stop at the actual bus shelter. The driver has a mind of his own. He either stops way ahead, so we can all jog with our jiggling bits, some of us puffing and panting, to jump on into an overflowing bus, or way behind, so we flail our arms as if that were enough to make him stop.
Anyway, as we waited, we watched the Pourakarmikas (the wonderful people who maintain the cleanliness in the area) leisurely sweep the roads clean, gathering the debris at regular intervals at the side of the road, to be picked up later and put into their trolleys and taken to another spot from where the municipal corporation van would pick them up.
I always admire the kites (birds) flying overhead – they have a number of nests in the trees in the area and can be seen circling, swooping down, gliding across the sky and generally seeming to enjoy life.
I try and click a few shots, while I am at it, as Vidur impatiently watches – his focus is on getting to school on time.
So anyway, as we cussed the bus for being late, said hi to his classmate who joined us at the bus stop, my focus shifted to some activity across the road. There is a construction in progress – some apartments are coming up. The workers were getting ready for the day.
There was a row of large plastic barrels with water just off the sidewalk, on the construction site. A couple of men, dressed in their towels approached these with little plastic containers that served as mugs and began to bathe. Two mugs of water – a quick rub down with soap – a few more mugs to wash that off.
(Yes, dear readers, I watched men bathe! bwahahaha!)
Then the cutest thing happened. One of the women, presumably the wife of one of the men brought a little boy and stood him near one of the shorter barrels. Undressed him down to his underpants. Gave him a “mug” and went about her work.
The little boy – who must have been 5 at most, picked up a mug of water and gently poured it on his head.
My heart went out to him. The weather is chilly in the mornings and I just wanted to go hug him.
As I watched, he rapidly poured a couple of mugs of water on himself. Took a piece of soap, lathered it up and vigorously worked it into his hair. Then his little body. He groped around for the mug, dipped it into the barrel and quickly began to wash the soap off. Suddenly, the sun shone, bathing him in sunlight.
That specific moment will always stick in my memory. The little chap, standing with his face up to the sun, poised with his mug in one hand and the other hand, rubbing his body to get the soap off.
When he was done, his Mom came with a towel and dried him off and dressed him in a brilliant yellow T-shirt and shorts and sent him off. She then picked up all the discarded clothes and washed them on the stone and strung them out to dry on the makeshift clothesline.
The lady then went off to serve them breakfast – she was cooking while they bathed.
They were all ready for the day – freshly bathed and fed. The men and women would start work and the children would play. The women had jasmine flowers in their hair.
So we didn’t get the bus. We took an autorickshaw to school.
What I saw put me in a contemplative mood.
How much is really enough?
I was musing on how we get worked up about switching the hot water on time and if it doesn’t work, freak out. We have such high expectations as we get more comfortable with life and take most things for granted. I am not even getting into the gadgets here!
Yet there are people who get by with so little. Happily.
So did I, during my childhood. We had no fans, no refrigerator, no living room furniture – guests were seated on mats on the floor. We did have a few chairs, though and a lovely swing in the living room – a polished plank hung with decorative chains.
Somehow, my resolve to simplify and be more with less strengthened.
And so, dear people, with renewed energy, I am collecting things to give away.
That’s all I got today.