Tag Archives: Travel

Happiness In Life

Conversation with SR continued from here: The Higher Purpose In Life.

SE had a follow-up question (a lightly edited extract):

…I have a question on tour analogy you given. I have similar experiences in multiple group tours and I had wondered why do these group tours create happiness which is not found in our normal day to day life journey? I tried to analyze and had identify certain attributes of these tours; noting them down here:

1. When we go on a tour, for those few days, we take a break from day-to-day life and let go our thoughts of past and future for duration of the tour.

2. During the tour, because we are in different environment and with new people, most of the time we stay in present experience. All the time alert, watching, experiencing, interacting so that we do not miss even a bit of the tour. 

3. Because we know we will not see these people again in life after this tour we are more friendly and accommodating than normal. Also we do not feel that bad when these people say or do something not matching with our expectation.

4. Inner state during these tours is relaxed. After all we are on break and came on tour to relax and enjoy.

Those are few of the critical differences between tour analogy and day-to-day life journey….

**

Loved the question. Set me off thinking about it.

My two-bits in response:

Before attempting to project the experience of a tour and the camaraderie/happiness enjoyed therein onto the larger canvas of our life, it’s useful to look at some other experiences too and recognize underlying similarities. Note some of them could be more towards alleviating grief/trouble leading to satisfying outcomes than generating raw happiness per se.

In these cases, we create and inhabit a small world of experiences shared with a few others bound by a common purpose, more to do with mundane living than exalted, such as enjoying the sights, company and amenities in a group tour, travelling to the destination safely on any kind of mass transport, being in a hospital ward with other patients to get treated during sickness, providing as a team, relief to disaster victims…

The ‘small’ ensures homogeneity  and congruence of purpose.  Membership to this world is one of low on maintenance and short-lived only for the duration of the experience (also a reason for low maintenance, besides the smallness). Note nishkama karma too, is low on maintenance not expecting anything in return!

Now, going from the tour to life looks simple!! For happiness and satisfaction, the solution, to think aloud, may well be: Fill your life – at least some part of it – with these worlds, as many, as varied, as frequently and as long as possible!

Well, not so fast and simple😊 Of course, life is more complex with its share of high-maintenance groups and their activities one cannot shy away: employment in an organization, a competitive team sport, etc. And not to forget, the Family and Friends!

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Jottings From The US: Anytime Is A Good Time!

 

Though it has to do with our recent the trip to US, strictly speaking, this is more about after our return.

travelguideindia org

I finished my chores in the market and finally planted myself before her usual busy self in her office.

Despite feeling a little dizzy after a sleepless night on the flight, I had not lost my cool. Making light of it, I said: ‘Out there, I bragged how efficient you guys were and then…you let me down.’

‘Why, why? What happened?’

I knew she knew she had goofed – she had not got me an aisle-side seat for me as expressly requested. Also, she had not acknowledged or apologized for it when I brought it to her notice later by email a couple of days ago.

A few more words exchanged – all polite. She came up with some clumsy explanation about how sometimes airlines on their own alter the seat allocations subsequently – the look on my face would have screamed aloud ‘I’m not buying it’.

Ending the brief conversation – the point was already driven home – I brought out the real reason of my visit to her office: ‘Here’s a small ‘thanks’ for your efforts…our trip went off well.’

Believe me, it was genuinely felt and said without the slightest trace of sarcasm, not letting the goof-up detract from the larger picture.

A look of surprise. She took the bag from me, glanced for a moment at the contents – a packet of 20+ pieces a well-known brand of chocolates, and put it away under her seat, mumbling her ‘thanks’.

Nothing else on the agenda to go with, I took off.

Well, out there you may be wondering what am I doing in the first place with a travel agent in these ‘digital’ days. They are still in business, I suppose, chiefly because of people like us – we never travel on the tickets bought first time. There’s always at least one round, if not more, of cancellation and rebooking. And in this regard I’m not comfortable dealing online with the airlines direct with their maze of ‘this but not that’ in small print I cannot or simply fail to read on the screen – blame it on my faulty vision, impatience or sheer ‘illiteracy’ – causing untold woes, not mentioning those numerous action-packed and cost-loaded little boxes, scattered all around threatening to cause havoc if left (un)ticked. Take what happened this time, for instance: our return travel was – no big surprise here – rescheduled just a few days before the journey, at not an insignificant expense, and that’s when she had goofed on seat allocation while doing right and very right on other counts of budget and dates.

Have I always been doing it?

Well, truth be told, never before. Though, I traveled quite a bit in my long years of employment and less frequently thereafter in retirement. The closest I ever came to: During Diwali, our travel agent, true to the local business custom, always brought me gift-boxes of premium sweets. And my family loved sweets! The boxes were unfailingly turned over to the insiders staffing the travel-desk. Never took one home after some initial learning.

So what if I had never done it before? Anytime is a good time, I think. What do you say?

Would I continue to do so in future? Let’s see.

Why did I write about it here? The purpose would be more than served well if, as a result, at least one more agent somewhere receives grateful acknowledgement of his/her efforts with regard to arranging a good work or pleasure trip for a customer.

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Source: image from travelguideindia.org

 

Pages From My Travel Dairy: VeLi AandaL Sannadhi At Srirangam

Tuesday, 29 November, 2016 6:02 AM

Today we began with a darshan of VeLi AandaL sannadhi.

A retired govt servant somehow has become a junior bhattar at this sannadhi. He has been around for 2+ years now. He had offered to help out when he found the sannadhi in a sorry state of neglect.

He took pains to explain the mahathvam of this sannadhi on finding we were from out of state and it was our first visit ever:

Here is where Aandal takes time to adorn Herself as a bride for Her marriage with Rangamannar. Seated, She has a bashful smile on Her face, lips a wee-bit parted, sports a Lakshmi-kondai on Her head.

When the time comes, Periyaazhvaar summons a pallakku (palanquin) for Her to join Her Azhagiya Manavaalan (bridegroom). Somewhere on the way he lifts the screen on the side of the palanquin and finds his Daughter missing. Where would he go searching for Her at this time – a vexed Aazhvar is beset with grief. That’s when She reveals Herself as an avataram of Bhooma Devi and She has since joined Her spouse in their celestial abode. Well, I have not read the books to know how She consoled Her earth-bound father. To imagine his sad plight

Other tidbits:

Overwhelmed by the beauty of Ranganatha, She takes long breaths. As She exhales, the flame of a torana vilakku lighted nearby lurches as if blown by a light breeze. The vilakku right beneath – only a few inches away – burns steady without a flicker!!

We know Ranganatha or Ranganayaki Thayar accept flowers only from their Nandavanam. Not even from the royalty (what to speak of lesser mortals like us). The one exception: During a festival (could not catch which one) Ranganatha appears at Aandal’s door-step and eagerly grabs the garlands She winningly parts with and wears them like He could wait no more!

On another occasion (which one?), it is now His turn to part with the kasturi adorning His forehead – the only time He ever does.

Another suvaiyaana karpanai (don’t know if these are bhattar’s words): Aandal is decked with ornaments only to ‘avaludaiya alavilladha azhagai kuraipathatke’!!

As I stepped out of the sannadhi and the trance, I waited for a few minutes at the mandapam in front waiting for my spouse to emerge.

I asked the only pookkaari if this shrine draws enough crowd – we could see only a few bhakta’s with us. She said it does get a few locals visiting daily. On special days like ammavasai, ekadasi, etc. the turnout is thick like in other shrines – to note: this sannadhi is not inside the main temple, but located a little out of the way beyond Chitra veedhi’s. The pilgrims to the main temple must make a detour to reach this shrine.

She was sure anyone coming to the shrine once would certainly come again bewitched by Her beauty.  And for herself, she found immense relief stationing herself in this shrine: ’I leave all my pracchanai’s to Her.’

Amazing words coming from an illiterate pookkari.

I pointed to the pile of unsold flowers in front of her. Won’t she suffer losses? Perhaps she grew the flowers on her own patch that the losses didn’t matter much?

‘Illai, sami, I buy them from the market. The unsold flowers – I give them away to the temple. Yes, I make a loss, but She’ll take care of me.’

We left not before giving her the money that I had ‘smartly’ knocked off her while buying malligai saram from her on entry to the sannadhi. And a little more.

End