Happiness is a warm puppy, a pack of milk, even a photo opportunity.
The first time when I really thought about what happiness really meant was when I read a Charlie Brown strip in which he proclaimed, while Snoopy slept in his lap, "Happiness is a warm puppy."
Is it? I was once going through terrible, terrible blues in life. Not even Jimmy Page cheered me up -- Led Zep was great to have a couple of beers over, but not very peppy otherwise in life. I played tennis four morning a week and football with a bunch of real good players on Sunday evenings (possibly the best way to exercise and work out, for me) but it still left me wanting something at the end of the sessions. I used to trek every other week to the Sahyadris, sometime to beautiful destinations, but the feeling never left me. My blue moons lasted whole months.
Then I decided that I had to do something about it. So I started spending money on things. I started with furniture for the house thinking I would feel better coming home if I had a decent place to come to. I had the place so furnished that any bachelor would have puked at the sight of it -- I could have re-rented the flat to a married couple and they would not have needed to buy anything more. I then bought a new music system and loads of CDs. But, surprise, surprise! I still felt the same. I was still low.
One of those days, while I drove to work early in the morning, I passed a portion of road lined by huts on both sides. To my left I noticed a small grocery shop where a visibly poor, very poor at that, woman carried a child and paid for something she had just bought. That something happened to be a half litre packet of milk, which the woman's daughter -- she might have been no more than four or five years old -- ran across the road with. She had the expression of joy on her face which I had not felt in weeks. Happiness to her was not a warm puppy -- it was the daily packet of milk. The fact that something so mundane, so trivial that I could have bought thousands of those packets for the money I spent in my pursuit of happiness, knocked the wind out of me. Instead of going to the office I went to Monginis and thought about the child. I realized, for the first time in life, that it was possible to be happy over small thing. In fact, it must be possible to be happy about nothing at all. Yes, happiness could be a warm Cheshire cat! Since that day, I have noticed people happy over the smallest things and I have been happier.
One particular afternoon, I was walking around in Koregaon Park, trying to find subjects to photographs. I was in the process of framing a dilapidated motorbike resting against a wall when I heard giggling behind me. I turned and shot a picture of these kids without spending too much time in composing and setting the photo up. Despite its obvious flaws, this photo is very precious to me. It shows two kids happy about nothing.
Hell, I need to write more about this thing, but I will have to defer that to a later time. I need to get back to work, I need to go running today (it's been ages since I did that) and I need to publish this post.
Cheers. Happiness is also a long run, work you enjoy, a lovely wife and a warm beer. :))