The Power of Smiles

Last weekend was the most memorable I’ve had so far in Mumbai. Apart from the variety of unrushed fun that the 36 hours offered, the city chose to unleash another human phenomenon to me: the power of smiles.

The action began as I rushed – first to my bus stop, of course – to receive a friend at the airport. What an optimum way to spend two days in Maximum City: Lots’a eating & sight seeing. ALL PUNS INTENDED. But this is not an account of how Arunav Kumar Jha & Priyanca Vibhutiprasad Vaishnav [phew! And no non-South Indian can win with me in length-of-names] spent the 7th and 8th of November 2009. It is a rant about the Power of the Greatest Utility Curve.

When I climbed into the 155, I wasn’t expecting a welcoming empty स्ट्रीयान्साठी seat at 5:15 pm, so I stood near the entry door, beside a wheel-top seat. A mother-son duo was perched on it, with mommy having to instruct her boy (of around 10) not to be so aggressive and grumpy and to stop shouting at passers-by out on the street. The child was uncontrollable. He seemed mentally disturbed, though not entirely “nuts”.

Time soon came for them to get off – it was August Kranti Maidan, I think – so the lady in white-and-yellow salwar kameez urged the child to stand up so they could move ahead to the exit. The kid was obviously unhappy, for his joyride (the little that he was enjoying) was about to come to a halt.

As the Gujju Mom scolded and nudged and prodded the now-completely-aggrieved kid, his eyes and mine met briefly. Never one to fight my habit, I gestured my hands to help him come out through the narrow leg space, and smiled. It also meant I was gonna get to sit now!

Yippee! & Phew!

What followed has stayed with me since: The child tapped on my hand that held onto the seat railing. I looked up. His grey face turned out a smile and a wave to say bye-bye. My worries about reaching not-in-time for Ar’s arrival melted into the oblivion. This moment pervaded me so much…

I told my sister about it last before we slept on Tuesday night. She says it is a sign and a strong one from the Guy-Up-There, that he chooses to bestow me with it. Ages ago, my now-no-more school principal said, “Priyanca’s always got a smile – an honest one, a loving one – a smile that welcomes you into her world.” I hope you’re watching Mrs. Mirchandani. I can still love. I can still welcome. And let go, with a smile. As Mirat once chose to say, I have “so much love to give.”

We all do. And to strangers, even more, because we haven’t given them the power to hurt us. Emotionally, we are still unaccessed territory. What makes us strong is the fact that we ARE emotional (says my daddy).

I have never laughed and smiled and grinned as I did on these two dates. [I laugh like a nutter at work though.] Mirat (again) said, “You throw your head back when you laugh”, when he mimicked Viren and Abhishek. It’s like talking to the stars, indeed. It’s amazing how comfortable you become and make another person when there’s the warmth of that sinking arc with its ends pointing to those stars. It’s like the first rains, or standing in a vast sunbeam in the windy winter of Jamnagar, or when your boss says “Good work” or playing with a Labrador puppy…

The smile works for a pick up line like no other. Try it the next time you spot a cute face at a pub. It is what relieves serious meetings of…well…their seriousness. It is what reminds fellow humans that we’re humans too. That, we are entitled to same treatment; that we can dole out same treatment. It’s what makes us forget and forgive the wrong doings of others, and remember the good that resides in ourselves. It gives us the feeling of
Somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must’ve done something good

Thank you Ar, for smiling and making me smile so much. :)