Happiness in Bits
Pransu Raj Kaushik
It was quite a queer decision in common terms to have postponed my honeymoon by a year and then when the planning was made for the same, to have decided on a road-cum-camping trip with a dozen more ‘maniacs’ to troll along. But, being the crazy person that I am known to be, my better half Leema surprisingly, turned out to be crazier to have agreed with my plan.
On the due date, we set off on a hired SUV with bag and baggage to our initial destition of Myodia located in the Lower Dibang valley of Aruchal. The journey was going smooth and uneventful until we reached Alubari Ghat in the Lohit district. We crossed the river by ferry and stopped at some shanties on the banks serving food to quench our hunger. If I remember correctly, there were 4 to 5 shanties selling everything from tea to rice on the sandy riverside. One among those had an elderly man of about sixty in white and masala-oil stained pyjama kurta frying freshly caught fish over a mud chulha. The view and aroma was simply too appetizing for me to resist. I went inside the shack with my ever adventurous wife and ordered for rice and some fried fish. I am sorry for not being able to identify the different variety of fish that was laid in front of me. Quiet emored by the serene ambience of the ghat, I planned to extend my halt for at least an hour more and ordered for a dish of chicken curry as well. The person in white was Lal Bahadur Sahni and he along with his wife, Pravawati Sahni and niece ran the riverside ‘restaurant’. The wife laid before her an array of masala grains from pepper to coriander and mechanically started to turn those into paste on a stone pastel and mortar. The cooking was done as mentioned earlier over a chulha. Readers, the taste of the simple brimmed up thali can never be put into words. For any sanitizer obsessed individual the experience might not sound too appealing, but for someone who loves the uncorrupted and earthy flavours of life, the meal laid out was like a serving from heaven. Nothing can be happier than that.
While on the way from Roing to the Mayodia pass, a village Tiwari Gaon falls on the wayside. There is a small tea shop where a tribal lady serves tea. We halted there for a few minutes to refresh and immerse ourselves in the scenic beauty of the place. Just then, I saw an old lady trolling along with a toddler, who probably was her grandchild. The cuteness of the little one appealed to the motherly instincts of my wife and she hugged the child and asked me to click a photograph of the memorable frame. While I tried to click a sp, the old lady resisted and uttered something in her dialect, which did not sound too friendly. I immediately stopped and with folded hands gestured to offer my apologies to her for clicking away without her permission. At this she seemed to have mellowed, and gestured with her hands offering her consent to photograph them. The innocent coyness with which the old lady posed with the little one, reminded me of my childhood years when having photographed was an important event and not like these days when the selfie mania looms large. I sometimes wonder why on earth each and every moment of life is being photographed and stored in the digital world. What happens to those umpteen clicks of self obsessed images? I remember photo prints were kept quite carefully in family albums to be shown to close acquaintances and for the purpose of satiating ones ‘nostalgia hunger’. There is no doubting the fact that digital photography has helped everyone to record memories in the form of instant clicks and records of life events. But, it has its own limitations and associated fault lines which are quiet alarming. The obsessive compulsive disorder has now a broadened are with smart-phone usage, selfie obsession and many such newer terminologies being part of the term. Many lives have been lost due to a ‘deemed innocent’ and persol photograph. Intimate events and human sexuality have becoming the new abstract art in the minds of many of us. This has led to us unrestricted photographing of many of our private moments and in due course even sharing those through the social media. The charm of photography has been dented to an extent. Happiness lies in doing something that has some resultant meaning associated with it. Photography is an art and is a powerful tool in not only influencing views, but also has the element of nostalgic happiness associated with it. We need to experience it in a minimalist but, fruitful manner.
On reaching the Mayodia pass, I was awed by the jaw dropping and ‘theatre-set’ like ambience of the rocky snow covered pass. Beauty truly lies in the eyes of the beholder. I may never be able to see the sights of the snow covered Alps, but my appetite has been fulfilled by the beauty of Mayodia and by the child-like ogles of my wife enjoying in the snow without inhibitions. This is enjoying beauty and being happy in bits. The simple bowl of Maggi that I had at a ramshackle stall made of drum sheets at the pass, made me respect food. I never quiet enjoyed noodles any better till that day. The hot bowl of noodles was the best food that one could have had at that cold height. It made me happy, experience unexplained happiness.
Coming back at Wakro, the orange orchards were a visual delight. I saw a few kids selling oranges on the roadside. All had a ready smile attached on their lips and with twinkling eyes. Someone’s me was Swim, while another introduced himself to be one Asanso Thalai or one med Lai. The playful and turally carefree persolity that these tribal kids in a remote Aruchal village displayed, redefined the terms contentment and happiness to me. Happiness is not measurable in any form or unit. It lies in all small events of life but, our greed and cravings for materialism makes it lie dormant. Like the famous line, ‘Little drops of water and little grains of sand, makes the mighty ocean and the beauteous land’, so also little bits of happiness make our lives a joyous ride of contentment and love. Try enjoying happiness in bits, and not crave for it in bulk, it may not happen.