“To savour it, the food needn’t be tasty… you should be hungry”
– My Grandmom
I love the simple pleasures of life. They turn up when you least expect it (that’s part of their charm). I love their simplicity. I love their lingering aftertaste. The difference between material pleasure and simple pleasure is the difference between a David Dhawan and Satyajit Ray film.
I remember one such simple pleasure vividly: seven years ago, we were on an 8-day trek to Pindari & Kafni glacier in the Kumaon Himalayas. It was Day 2 – the 8km we had to cover that day consisted 6km uphill stretch and the rest downhill. That 6km stretch was treacherous, especially to our well-fed, city bred bodies. Four of us were trekking together. We would eagerly question every local passerby about the point from where the trail ran downhill. “Just ‘round the corner”, was the unchanging reply.
On and on we trekked, always questioning the next passerby. We soon gathered that there was a tea-stall at the Point. Every tired step we took was towards THE tea-stall – visions of steaming tea danced in front of our eyes. After many “around the corners” we spotted the shack. Perhaps to tease tired travelers, the stall was on top of small knoll – it was picturesque, but our legs were barely supporting the rest of the body.
We shouted our orders from the knoll’s base. Steaming chai awaited us as we threw down our rucksacks, and crashed on the bare earth. We tore open a couple of packets of Parle G to go with the chai. “Maggi?”, the shopkeeper enquired. “Whaa?”, I asked, half disbelieving the guy who was waving yellow packets in our face. “Haan haan… banao!”, we said together. The watery concoction he prepared – the worst Maggi ever made –was best thing I had ever tasted (it still is). It is unlikely I’ll ever taste anything like that ever again. The four of us gulping, slurping that Maggi was the best moment of the trek.
Today, yet another simple pleasure crept up unannounced, as usual. It was 7.00 a.m. I was in Gujarat Express, heading towards Dahanu. The survey in the tribal areas has been going on well, but continuous rains threaten to upset my schedule. It has been dull & grey all these days. But today, a shaft of fresh morning light broke through the clouds and shone in through the train windows. The moment lasted for a minute or so, as the clouds closed in again. But the glow of the light was still strong. It was emanating from me.