The roads are jammed, and most drivers have switched off their engines. I stare absently at the scene outside. An old lady is standing under a bus shelter. As I watch, she pulls out something from the waistband of her saree. It is a small cloth bag of the drawstring variety. She rummages inside and pulls out a few betel leaves and pieces of broken areca nut. She patiently tears the leaves and folds them, places the areca nut in the center, and puts it into her mouth. Her eyes have a faraway look, as her hands tighten the drawstring pouch and tuck it back into her waistband. She chews the leaves, and is deep in thought.
I watch in fascination.
A young girl soon joins the old lady. She is in her teens. As I watch, she stretches her arm into her bag, and pulls out her smartphone. She is soon completely absorbed in her own world!
I laugh at this contrast.
The old lady has stopped pondering. She looks around now, and looks at the young lady, who is completely oblivious to the goings-on around her; her neck bent at an awkward angle.
This makes me think. When did we become this way? When did we stop looking out at the world? When did we trap the world into a smartscreen and start looking for all solutions in that small screen. Instead of looking out and going out into the world, we have brought the world into our palms, to the point where we don’t need anyone or anything else to keep us occupied.
Image courtesy – http://www.dreamstime.com
As I watch, the old lady chews her leaves and watches the world curiously. Her eyes fall on me. She smiles – a toothless smile, her mouth stained by the red of the betel leaves.
I smile back. There is still hope!