Fruit salad.

29 July 2013.

It is summer time. Is that why I am thinking of fruits?

I love sweets. Is that why I am thinking of a fruit salad?

I can’t put my finger on the exact spot but out on the green strip of lawn, that word suddenly popped into my mind. Caught between the delicious giggles of young children, I remembered when I was 8 years old as well. We used to play this game called Fruit Salad. Back then I think the name fascinated us more than the game. But going over the rules of the game, I realise what a huge lesson that game taught us through such a seemingly simple name.

In short, the game was played in a circle and 3-4 fruit names were alternately given to all the participants. When one particular fruit was called, all bestowed with that name rushed and exchanged places. A person standing in the centre of the circle (perhaps known as the ‘spoon’!) tried to snatch the place of an unfortunate fruit who wasn’t fast enough to cross the diameter of the circle. I remember the real fun in the game, however, lay when ‘Fruit salad’ was called. That was when the entire circle went crazy and switched places.  Screaming and whining, we all fell into place each time amidst much chaos; silenced only with the lesson learnt: ‘A single bowl has place for everyone, no matter how different; and it is only when everyone comes together, that the effect is delicious’.

A life lesson indeed. Today this playground where I find myself is one such fruit bowl. Children of all ethnic backgrounds play together and language really is no barrier. I am an Indian who finds herself teaching an African kid how to share; who exchanges smiles with an Afghani mother; who appreciates the fathering skills of an Iranian man and who offers rides on her back to Pakistani kiddos. And all this happening in a country that is motherland for none of us. Secularism is all right to read in textbooks, but to live it is a wonder. In the past 2 weeks, what started off as a harmless badminton game turned into one of the greatest learning experiences I’ve ever encountered. I have seen people harbour prejudices based on caste, religion and skin colour. I have had that momentary jolt of indecisiveness when someone says he or she belongs to another ethnicity. Thankfully I have been brought up without the blinders. And seeing these kids, I am glad there are more parents walking down this path.

For behind those burkhas and kohl-lined eyes and beyond dark skin, there lies a person just like me.

Behind those different vocabulary sets and a whole new phonological base, there is a mind that thinks just like me.

Why then, do we draw all these boundaries and limit the world for ourselves? I see these children congregate here each evening; their fights comical, their sulks adorable. Their English grammar goes haywire but they manage to get their meaning across. They tease each other but they stand up for each other too. At the year end, everyone will separate and go back to their own countries. Back into those safeguarded boundaries. But I hope they go back with this unconsciously learnt lesson safe in their hearts…

I don’t know if they will remember each other, but I know I will always think of each of them. Not individually but as a collective.

As the fruits in my fruit bowl, making each evening so delicious 🙂



To win some, let’s lose some!

30 June 2013.

June comes to a close, with a bang. I wake up feeling wretched, wanting to punch the headlights out of someone. Maybe the weather is responsible or the disturbed sleep from last night. Whatever the reason, before my rational mind could kick in, the damage is done.

I pick up my phone, I go through all the messages accumulated overnight and somewhere a fuse blows off within. Weirdly none of those messages are responsible and yet at the moment, any kinda trigger works. I open the chat window of the first person I can think of; the only person I can think of so early in the morning. And I ‘download’ all my wretchedness on the pitiful soul. Like a fish out of water, I am pretty sure he had no clue what had suddenly hit him. Despite all his best and valiant efforts, I am determined to be my most miserable self. Difficult to comprehend, confused to my own self. I blast off all my ammunition on him, leave him stranded in the corner and then just walk off. All this even before I am completely out of bed. The pillow feels wet to my cheek…or is it my cheek that is wet?

There are these days when you don’t know what is happening within. At most times, the answer is right there. Crystal clear and impossible to miss. And yet all this missing business is at fault. When your eyes are focused on the destination, you miss out on the loveliness the journey has to offer. And when you are obsessed about the distractions en route, you may walk awry. The balancing act occurs on a fine line and life suddenly is viewed from the eyes of a tightrope walker. It must be tough, always being on track…

The fuse restored, the bulb in my head suddenly lights up. That is what this is all about. Watching both sides of the street before crossing it; focusing on the tightrope below your feet and not on the fall that awaits either side. That is the point I have been missing all throughout. There is always another side to the coin, there is always a black to the white. What works for me may not (and should not) work for the other person. Because if everything in this world toed the line for me, Life would lose its spice. The seasoning called Diversity.

All of a sudden, I see why all that wretchedness. The blinders were in place, the heart so rigid. Haste never allowed reasoning to open its mouth and so I never really took the time to see the other side. Of why it’s not the number of SMSes exchanged, but the connection maintained that matters. Of why time zones and communication gaps are the unfortunate albeit convenient displacements. Of why what really matters in the end is being there. Just being there.  For it is the background that really completes the picture.

It is losing the frown that really wins back the smile.

win some