Within a New York minute, I was arrested by large portraits of Golden Temple adorning the walls of a corridor in a newly opened hotel in my hometown, Amritsar. Bathed in black and white, they presented the everyday scenes of the famous temple: two sewadars engrossed in a chat along the sarovar, women peeling vegetables outside the community kitchen hall, an elderly man enjoying a holy dip and they went on, making me feel as if I was very much in the same gurdwara.
I was intrigued, despite having often encountered these moments during many visits to the Golden Temple. My mind soon raced to that airport hotel in Zurich, where I did a six-month internship nearly a decade back. Its walls, too, carried the local life, with which I felt connected.
Hence, after dropping the guest to the room, if I ever took so long to return to the front desk, it was those pictures that ate away most of the time. A cheerful flight steward, welcoming the passengers, was one of my favourites. As it was put up in the lift, I didn’t mind going up and down to follow its magic.
Paintings of Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch artist, which celebrate everyday life, tasted immense fame. He died young but his canvases continue to captivate. Some of them: a woman by the window deeply engrossed in reading a letter; a milkmaid carefully pouring milk in an earthen pot; a young lady with a pearl necklace as she gazes into the mirror and again a woman absorbed in making a lace, to mention some, exhibit the characters he admired, and their chores.
The more I look at art works, be it photographs or even sculptures that unfold something from the daily mundane, the more I realise that ordinary life is not ordinary. Most of us take it for granted, overlooking all its charm.
Thankfully, as I write, I love watching the world go by, even walking along some dusty road in the countryside. There is so much to observe and it makes me feel as if an exhibition is always on around me. It taught me that joy is everywhere, if we have the eye to catch it. Most remarkable is, when I see happiness in action, I, too, experience it, however simple the moment. An excited child glued to the window during the bus journey or someone sipping tea, for instance! No wonder, I never feel bored, wherever I go.
‘The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them,’ observed Paulo Coelho. So, why not become wise? It all lies in the everyday, and it is certainly fascinating.
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