We are so often intoxicated with work, life, and our own success index that our observation of multiple sides of the coin starts fading in some way or the other. These short-lived success indexes might someday lead to the failure of our satisfaction index. We are generally in love with a set of ideals and ideologies rather than the practical sides of life. Why am I getting into generalized observations and universal musings? Not sure — just felt like sharing bits of my thoughts with you.
Be it love or marriage, a dream job, a dream house — we know that things and moments lose their sheen, what perhaps remain with you are people and possibilities. One of my seniors had once advised me that recycle your anger for the benefit of the society, because what remains is neither anger nor the moments of outburst, but only people and good/bad memories of it.
Cut to the present, let me share an episode that I witnessed at the airport during my travel back home these summers. The hop between two flights was nearly four hours. My luggage was already checked-in for the entire flying time and I had only a laptop bag on my shoulders and ample time in hand to observe people and events . Whenever I get the interlude time to ‘do nothing’ am extremely grateful to my stars, because that gives me an opportunity to think, feel, and record my observations. Anyway, after whiling away sometime at the airport book wheeler and window shopping at the gadget shop (being a gadget freak), I decided to settle down at the lounge with a plate of steaming hot idlis. About ten minutes later, a gentleman came and sat next to me, shouting at top decibel on someone over phone. For the next ten minutes he angrily voiced his opinions at perhaps an employee/wife. My own tolerance capacity is limited to a few minutes in such situations and being angry by nature these moments challenge my response-time. I picked up my bag and moved away from the place.
Now, the seat I found next was closer to a spa. I was super-happy, had something new to observe. I am not aware of things that happen in a spa. The place seemed to only cater to foot care and head massage. The spa was an open counter and I decided to observe and get some beauty tips myself :). A number of men and women queued around near the reception, waiting for their turn for a massage. Nothing unusual. I noticed that the staff members were all wearing uniforms and greeting people with a smile. However, what really struck me was that they were all wearing dark glasses (black goggles) along with the uniform. I thought that there is perhaps some special technique that they use, which would require them to wear these dark glasses. Some term like ‘reflexology’ was written on the entrance to the spa. My curiosity was ignited.
I got up and went near the reception for an inquiry into the treatments and the price range. The price range is Rs.1600-1700 for 20-25 minutes of the treatment. I lingered around the place for a while to find out the secret behind the dark glasses.
Found out that all the members of the staff except the receptionist were blind! Yes, they were serving people without being able to see their customers! Each employee would be lead by hand to the customer that he/she is to take charge of.
I was shocked! What an irony! The visually challenged enhance the beauty of people who ‘can see’? The reception informed me that a logic for only employing ‘blind’ crew in the spa is that visually challenged have a more sensitive perception of people’s nerves and reflexes — thus ‘reflexology’. But, how much do they earn for their services? I didn’t get a clear answer — not more than 7000 in my estimate. I bought a treatment just to be able to ask a few more questions to one of the crew about their lives in the spa. However, they just refuse to talk when they are serving! The only information that I could elicit was that they stay in the chawls close to the airport. Houses in Mumbai are expensive.
I came out of the spa a bit more confused. Am not sure if capitalism helps or hinders an individual’s growth records. One part of me was thanking the spa for helping these people to lead a “normal” life and the other part of me was saying that “the seeing exploit the sightless”. I am not sure if I got an answer to the pros and cons of my observation — but of course the time I got ‘doing nothing’ helped me ‘see’ something that I would have otherwise let go — unseen.
Was reminded of Hellen Keller’s short-story “The Seeing See Little” as I came out of the spa. Read it if you get an opportunity and see if we can really see with our sight and do we have the time to really ‘see’ things beyond their surface reflections.
At times my heart cries out with longing to see all these things. If I can get so much pleasure from mere touch, how much more beauty must be revealed by sight. Yet, those who have eyes apparently see little. The panorama of color and action which fills the world is taken for granted. It is human, perhaps, to appreciate little that which we have and to long for that which we have not, but it is a great pity that in the world of light the gift of sight is used only as a mere convenience rather than as a means of adding fullness to life. — “Three Days to See” by Helen Keller