“The wifi is not connecting” I wail, “I wanted to ‘check-in’ on my facebook!!”
It’s six in the morning and hubbyji and I are at the Mumbai international airport, ready to head back to Dublin after an amazing Indian holiday. We are standing in a queue to check-in at the Emirates counter in what seems to be the slowest queue in the world. We have both gotten up super-early in the morning and the fact that we haven’t had our first cup of tea yet, is definitely not helping. As it is, he and I always bicker more than usual when we are travelling.
“Will you just relax!” Hubbyji snaps, “Let’s check-in to our flight here first and then worry about all that nonsense later.”
“This line is soooo slow!” I mutter, looking over the shoulder of the person standing in front of me.. “ I always feel queasy in crowded places like this. I need to get something in my stomach and fast. Last year, when I was travelling alone, I almost fainted on a scrawny girl standing in front of me in the immigration queue.”
“Please be quiet for two minutes so that I can figure out how much time we will take here. I will get you three cups of tea once I manage to do that.” Hubbyji says.
“Fine!” folding my hands, I turn away.
To while away the time, I begin to look at other passengers busily scurrying around the airport. Observing people is one of my favourite things to do at public places. There are so many interesting characters that you always come across.
At airports, there will be atleast that one family who will be traveling by air for the first time, where the parents will be having a hard time of containing the excitement of their kids and patiently answering all their questions.
Secondly, there will always be that one fashionista with shining red nails, stilettos and huge sunglasses on even inside the airport, who will be dangling a designer handbag on her arm and will get increasingly restless on having to wait in queues with haggard looking commoners like me.
Then, there are the honeymooners!! Plenty of them. Starry eyed newly-weds that seem to lean into each other as if by a magnetic force. I see a beautiful young couple now, who is holding hands and whispering sweet nothings, oblivious to anything around them.
I think of the time when hubbyji and I were on the way to our honeymoon in Kerela, what seems like a hundred years ago. Having traveled for 30 hours by train from our hometown to Bangalore the previous two days, we resembled zombies by the time we reached the Bangalore airport for our early morning flight. We slept through it and after that, through the beautiful two hour drive from Cochin airport till our hotel in Munnar. Our driver kept on waking us up to show us the beautiful views along the way but we would just doze off again, our faces smashed against the windows. He could have kidnapped us and taken us to Himalayas and we wouldn’t have known.
I smile at the memory and look at hubbyji.
“Now what?” he snaps.
“NOTHING!” I scowl.
Today, I also see a tall, blond girl standing up ahead in the queue, numerous round badges of different countries pinned on her long navy-blue coat. I am sure those are all the places from her bucket-list that she must have visited till date. This sort of passion when seen, is truly inspiring.
As I turn around towards hubbyji again, I see a very elderly Indian woman briskly walking to the check-in counter with her luggage trolley. She is dressed in a crisp white salwar-kameez and her thinning silver hair is done neatly in a plait. She must easily be above 80 years of age, and hearing her laughing and chatting with the person sitting behind the counter, we know from her dialect that she is a fun-loving Punjabi. Hubbyji notices her too and we smile at each other at how sweet this lady is. Once her checking-in gets complete, she breezes on further inside the terminal, dragging her little suitcase behind her.
“How confident is she!” I remark.
“..and at this age!” He says, nodding “See, everyone is looking at her because of her spirit. It is commendable!”
Half an hour later, we finally enter the jazzier part of the airport after getting through the immigration. There are cafes and showrooms to pass away the time and we can be relaxed as we wait for the boarding announcement.
“Now tell me, what do you want for breakfast?” Hubbyji asks me grinning, obviously relaxed now that the airport formalities have gotten over smoothly.
“Oh, you are nice now…” I say, stuffing the documents back in my large hand-bag “You’d think in the past eight years of marriage I’d have gotten used to this maniac that you become when we are on a schedule….but noooo, it is still unsettling…..”
We are still teasing each other as we walk into a little café to have our last Indian meal of the trip.
We order teas and Masala-dosas and I sit down on one of the corner tables, while hubbyji pays the bill at the counter. As I settle down at the table, I notice the same elderly woman from before, sitting at some distance, sipping her tea and looking around. She glances at me and I give her a little smile.
As she sees me smiling, her face breaks into a broad grin, friendly and warm.
I am about to speak with her when, hubbyji on his way to me, sees the exchange and heads towards her to speak with her. One thing that you need to know about hubbyji is that, contrary to his serious-looking demeanor, he absolutely loves chatting to people. Especially older people. He will greet them on the street and will love listening to their tales and insights. I see him touching the lady’s feet and she looks surprised first and then extremely delighted. In India, it is a custom to touch the feet of elders to seek their blessings.
“He touched my feet!” she says to me, smiling broadly, as I join them “So sweet. You are strangers and didn’t have to. So nice.”
“ We were watching you while you were checking-in, Aunty..” I say, “..you were so confident, going from one counter to another, managing your luggage and everything. We all should take a leaf out of your notebook and be this active at your age.”
“Oh, I am used to traveling on my own..” she says, smiling at both of us, “ I have been traveling alone for many years now and still it excites me. Age is just a number. My children say to me ‘Mummy, in this age we are afraid to let you travel alone’ and I say to them ‘What is there to be afraid of?’ I am still healthy by god’s grace and if something happens, there will be people to help me.’ Thankfully I have never had a bad experience in all these years.”
We chat with her for about ten minutes and find out that she is going to Spain for a wedding. It turns out that she will be in the same flight as ours till Dubai, from where we will have connecting flights to our respective destinations. As our food arrives, we bid farewell to her to go back to our table. We keep exchanging smiles with her throughout the meal, before she disappears towards the boarding gates before us.
We see her on the flight and chat with her occasionally during the journey. When we land in Dubai, hubbyji helps her with her bag and we three walk towards the terminal together, clicking selfies and chatting non-stop.
“See, I always meet nice people who help me on my travels,” she says, patting my hand, “why should I be apprehensive of traveling alone?”
“Your positivity is inspirational, Aunty!” I say to her “You are so sweet!”
“Ask my kaam-wali (house-maid) how sweet I am” she jokes, dismissing the compliments, “She will disagree with you, I am sure!”
When we reach the terminal, we exchange hugs and wish each other best luck. In a very Indian manner, she takes out her wallet and hands us 500Rs as we bid her good-bye.
“This is your wedding gift from me!” she says, “ Every meeting in life has some purpose beta. Maybe I was related to you in some previous birth that we met here today and spent such good time. You touched my feet and I felt an instant bond to you. God bless you!”
We are too moved for words.
We walk away from her and as we turn to look at her one last time, she breaks into another one of her wide smiles and waves good-bye enthusiastically. This is the image of her that will always stay with me. Waving back, we walk on to the next lap of our journey.
Emotions spread like a wildfire. I have always believed that negativity is a very contagious trait but this was an instance in my life that showed me how contagious positivity is also. It was a beautiful example which taught us that when you give off positive energy, you infect others with that same and that they will return that energy back. Hubbyji touched a stranger’s feet and she gave us so much of love in such a short time. Her confidence and spirit was so infectious that it seemed to radiate out of her. It seemed almost tangible. So much so, that we will remember her fondly all our lives. This is the power of a positive outlook! Positivity will never go unnoticed. Your interaction with others plays a large part in your life.
I am a staunch flag-bearer of positivity and strongly believe that positive thinkers, or optimists, are one step ahead of pessimists. This is the result of how differently we react to situations when we approach them with either a positive or negative attitude. Our soul is powered by our thoughts.
To expect yourself or anyone else to ALWAYS stay positive, is simply unrealistic. Sometimes things just suck! All of our lives are, from time to time, filled with challenges that make it very difficult to be positive sometimes. I too have regrets, I too have miseries as everyone else does but I refuse to let them overpower my present. Take one day at a time. Look for a silver lining amongst dark clouds. Look at someone struggling with a disease, financial problems or a personal loss and be grateful that you are healthy, stable or loved. Look at those who have less than what you have in your life and be humbled. Show gratitude and you will be automatically happy. I realize that everything happens how it happens, and it’s up to me to choose how I want to feel about it.
I do not know one person personally who has not had a rough phase in their lives. Not one. I will go as far as to say that if you have not suffered a major disappointment or heart-break in your life, you are actually missing out. Yes, you are at a loss. I say this because I think that if you haven’t been through a difficult time in your life, you will never actually get to experience the beauty of getting over it. I am constantly amazed at how even the most painful wound heals with time and u regain the strength of getting on with your life when once you found that absolutely impossible.
I am not sure if I believe in Karma any more. I have witnessed the best people suffer through the horrors of life and I have seen some despicable people sail through life with not a worry in the world. Therefore, I now sometimes think that what happens to us in life may be entirely random. Like a roll of a dice. Like a blind round of cards. What I do believe in, however, is that our own thoughts and approach on life are what make our lives more easier or more difficult.
Negativity affects everything you do. If you have an idea and someone tells you that it’s stupid, then suddenly you start to wonder why you’re bothering with it in the first place – and then you stop trying. A negative thought will pop into my head, and instead of just letting it pass on by, I will focus in on it and start thinking about it, which results in a bad mood. I have made a habit of putting loud music whenever I am in the kitchen alone, cooking. I sing along and I refuse for my mind to get engaged in ridiculous thoughts which are neither productive nor of any use to ponder upon. Why does that obstinate little voice in our heads torment us so? Because we have given it the power to. It is up to you, and only you, to start pushing the negativity out of your head and let positive thoughts guide you. You have to train yourself into it.
I am sure that I have mentioned this multiple times before, but I am saying it again because it is particularly relevant for today’s topic- the thing I love the most about myself is that I laugh a lot. I can be howling with physical or mental agony but there is rarely anything so serious that you can’t make me instantly laugh or atleast chuckle in the middle of, by saying or doing something stupid. I might be having the worst day but if I see Govinda dancing energetically on a totally obnoxious song, I will still break into a wide grin. I truly love this about myself.
Stop taking life so seriously. Once you do, it becomes easy. Remember, if it gets too complicated, it usually means you’ve made it complicated in your own mind. Stop over-thinking, surround yourself with well-meaning people, go with the flow, play with it, emanate the positive energy and make it more fun for others too! This life is yours. You are the sailor on this boat and you get to choose the direction.
We all go through our seasons. Keep going, keep praying, and keep positive. Just like a smile or a yawn is contagious, so is positivity. Positive thinking is very influential and the power of positivity is never ever subtle. It is so contagious that it will affect the world around you.
Positive outlook is a choice that you can always make. Fill your mind with light, hope, and feelings of strength and soon your life will reflect these qualities.
We land in Dublin after traveling for 12 hours straight and are dead tired by the time we clear immigration and retrieve our luggage. We are standing in the taxi lane, waiting for our turn and there’s a slight drizzle and grey skies, which is a huge contrast from the smoldering sunshine that we have just come out of from in India.
We load up our luggage in the cab and are finally on our way home, pooped after a long journey.
“Good holiday?” the cheerful cabbie asks.
“Oh yes..” hubbyji says, “ We went to our native place in India. Always fun!”
“Hot in India?” he inquires.
“VERYY!” I say, “Peak of summer going on, but on the plus side, it was the Mango season. So we ate plenty of them after around four years.”
“Oh, Nice!” he smiles.
We soon reach our village and hubbyji tells the cabbie to take a left towards our locality.
“Why did you have to tell him to take this route?” I whisper “It will only take us till the main gate of our locality and not to our apartment itself. We will have to drag the bags for quite awhile before we reach the multi!”
“Aaaah, that’s right!” hubbyji says, smacking his head, “Leave it now. We can do this. Remember that brave lady from the flight. If she can do so much at her age, you can easily drag a couple of bags for five short minutes, right?”
I narrow my eyes at him and say nothing.
“So here you are guys!” the cabbie says, pulling up at the side of the road, as we reach the arched, narrow gate, ” Isn’t there some place closer to your home where I could have dropped you off at? …..and look, it has started to rain too…you guys sure you are gonna be okay???”
“Oh, we are positive!” I say, giving him a smile before turning to look daggers at hubbyji.
He is so making the first cup of tea after we reach home!