Spring is in the Air

I started the month off with a beautiful walk in the park as an unusually bright February unfurled itself around me. Nature’s shows are marvelous: Whether we are learning to skip pebbles along the waterside, or admiring the early cherry blossoms,  the unmistakable signs of Spring stirring is in the air.

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As I walked, I could not help listening to the wind rustling through the trees, the trilling of the birds, the quacking of the geese, and the chittering of the squirrels. If I had any musical sense, I would have conducted the Great Animal Orchestra.

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The Great Bird Orchestra

I was therefore very happy when a children’s book joyfully tapped into the orchestra playing out around us so beautifully.

Hiccupotamus By Steve Smallman and illustrated by Ada grey, is a perfect companion for a nippy spring.

It is a beautiful bubble squeaking sort of day. It makes little mouse want to squeak and so he does.

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His squeaks soon encourage the bird to tweet. Then, the centipede taps, and the alligator plays the xylophone with a bone on his teeth.

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Before we know it,

Boom-dee-Boom

Tappity Tappity

Squeak Squeak

Plink Plink

Boom ba-da boom boom!

Everyone is happy when the Hippo claims to have started the whole thing off. Hey! cried the mouse, bird, alligator and monkey. Where were you?

Why? I am hiccuping bubbles non-stop! says Hiccupotamus.IMG_7876.jpg

The illustrations are so charming, that we have looked at these pages several times, and enjoyed the joy contained in this book.

Spring is in the air, and I’d like to join the birds and animals out on these beautiful Wind In The Reefs sort of days.

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President Squid

I get the feeling that the Universe potters around jotting down whether things are going the way they are supposed to and so on, and then stops and sees me having a good time, and says to itself. ‘That half-wit there seems to be enjoying herself. Catch her, and put her up for a Leadership course or something. Do something with her! Something!” So, in my unguarded moments, I have been bunged into courses on Leadership.  Barely do I totter out of one, when another beams at me touting the title, ‘Effective Leadership’, and the moment I finish that up, ‘Most Effective & Beneficial Leadership’ (Beneficial to whom?)

I have no problem with these blokes whose job it is to tell you to polish your pencils and sharpen your brain and what-not, but I find the whole thing irksome and tedious. So much better to take my Leadership course. My course is fun. Titled, Butter Battle Course, it is being substantially boosted up with these gems.

Skip several tomes on Leadership, and read up: Hope this helps the squids, squirrels and sheep too.

President Squid – a witty book that enthralls and amuses.

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Giant Squid has a very important realization. No giant squid has ever been a president before. He looks for qualities to be a President and surprise of surprise – he already has them all.

Qualities of a President:

  • He wears Ties
  • He has a large house (The Titanic!)
  • He is famous
  • He does ALL the talking
  • Big & bossy

 

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President Squid is as loud and rambunctious as ever. He is convinced that he the Best President Ever!

One day as a President, he unwittingly does some work, and then being a President doesn’t seem like fun anymore.

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President Squid: Book by Aaron Reynolds

The book also provides a solution for those unfortunate Presidents who became Presidents and then realized it is not all as gassy as a cup of beans.

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President Squid: By Aaron Reynolds

Complement this with the equally endearing and hilarious books on leadership:

King Hugo’s Huge Ego : By Chris Van Dusen

Loius I, King of the Sheep – By Oliver Tallec

Who was it who said that there is nothing that cannot be learnt from good children’s books? I heartily agree.

Children are actually the best (and worst) audience for literature because they have no patience with pretence.Orson Scott Card

Homo Incredulitatis

For the past few years, we have not watched any of the Harry Potter movies in the home because we did not want to ruin the Harry Potter stories for the little sponge in the household. So, we waited patiently till he read Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. He read some of it, had some of it read to him, and he discussed the whole of it with his Harry Potter wise sister. (Please check out the latest edition with illustrations by Jim Kay. His illustrations are beautiful as if he lived and breathed in the story himself.)

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He only had the last chapter left, and savored the thought like the last piece of cake. The pair of us snuggled up one day with the rain pattering the windows and read. I read in the low rumbling voice of Albus Dumbledore:
‘As for the Stone, it has been destroyed.’
‘Destroyed?’ said Harry blankly. ‘But your friend – Nicolas Flamel – ‘

Dumbledore smiled at the look of amazement on Harry’s face.
‘To one as young as you, I’m sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well organized mind, death is but the next adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all – the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things which are worst for them.”

I could not agree more. Fresh from my readings of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, I was already uneasy with our hideous choices for progress:
An economy built on everlasting growth needs endless projects – just like the quests for immortality, bliss and divinity.

The husband had spent the afternoon watching a movie with some very interesting sound effects. A sci-fi crime thriller of one who had moved his consciousness into the ether and could possess bodies at will. “Something like Voldemort, only he could find one horcrux at a time and keep going.” said the husband.

Living for ever, resurrecting species back from the dead?

Why? A few years ago, we played a game in the car with the children where we asked the children which animal they would bring back from extinction, to great hilarity (Dodo, Dragon, Dinosaur Dis-apparitions) . This had such an impossible Sci-Fi feel to it, and that contributed to the thrill of the game. I mean you cannot bring back Dodos can you?

In less than two years, I read a book titled ‘Woolly: Bringing the Mammoth Back to Life’ by Ben Mezrich. I only read the book now, but work on that front has been going ever since we learnt to sequence a genome, and cloned a sheep. If pressed on the benefit of this move, I suppose mankind would say, “This will help reduce global warming by ensuring the Tundra permafrost is packed in with the stomping of large beasts.”

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I am not so sure. If anything, we use our considerable creativity to find grand purposes.

I was intrigued by the husband’s movie discussion on immortality in the form of storing one’s thoughts elsewhere. I have been looking at my thoughts ever since this discussion, and I got to tell you: There isn’t much going on up there. No future generation in the 25th century will benefit from my great wisdom. In fact, the number of times I resist eating chocolate, and then meekly give in, might be the greatest wisdom there is.

Projecting the future is a crummy business. An excerpt from the book, Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari:
While some experts are familiar with developments in one field, such as AI, nanotechnology, big data or genetics, no one is an expert on everything. No one is capable of connecting all the dots and seeing the full picture. Different fields influence one another in such intricate ways that even the best minds cannot fathom how breakthroughs in artificial intelligence might impact nanotechnology or vice versa. Nobody can absorb all the latest scientific discoveries, nobody can predict how the global economy will look in 10 years, and nobody has a clue where we are heading in such a rush.

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Why does the unknown scare us? If that is the case, isn’t tinkering with immortality even more of an unknown than death?

Our tales and myths are full of warnings against this very wish. From Bhasmasura, Ravana and Hiranyakashipu to Grindelwald, and Voldemort, we have read and ingested that immortality is not such a sweet bunch of grapes as it is made out to be.

Homo Sapiens seem to have forgotten that Happiness is only important when we have unhappiness to compare it against. Life is only good because we know it is finite, and we strive to make it a full, worthwhile one. Would I cherish every moment and live in the present and all that lark, if the present is all there ever is? It was a sobering thought.

Really Homo Sapiens are Homo Incredulitatis!

Books: 
   Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone: J K Rowling 
   Homo Deus: Yuval Noah Harari
   Woolly: Ben Mezrich
Movie: Mayavan
Myths: Bhasmasura, Ravana, Hiranyakisapu

My Dearest K-Nearest-Neighbor

One evening over dinner, we were swapping stories of the day when I told the daughter that she must sit up and pay attention in class, and not ‘droop like a plant in the desert’.

“If the teacher has deemed it important and relevant for you, you must pay attention”, I said ticking off a box on the Parenting list, and hoping my guardian angel was paying attention.

What had happened was, their History teacher had made them watch a documentary on the Civil rights movement. As far as documentaries go, this particular one seems to have been one of those glacier drifter-paced ones with soothing lambs-bleating-on-distant-hills sound effects. The class had fallen into a stupor, and the daughter’s friend had told her she saw her ‘wilt’ in her seat.  With many giggles, she assured her that she had seen her go from sitting straight backed to ‘drooping like a plant in the desert’. Whether these children imbibe any lessons in History or not, they certainly seem to have picked up a thing or two on the poetic touch.

Their teacher also noticed the supine trend in fashion, and quizzed them to see what they had managed to learn, only to be greeted with blank stares. So, he set them an essay to wake them up. The sleepy heads heard him mumble, “I want an essay, hand-written, not typed, on Edgar Evans’. Those who had not heard were helpfully enlightened by their fellow snorers, and they set about writing about Edgar Evans,  all the while wondering why their teacher, usually sound in the head, would set them an essay on a Vietnam war veteran when they were being woken up in a Civil war lesson.

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After the busy pens had scratched for 10 minutes, one genius decided to ask the teacher Why Edgar Evans? To which the surprised gentleman fell off his seat, and said Medgar Evers(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medgar_Evers) – the Civil rights activist hero, not Edgar Evans.

The poor teachers!

‘Sleeping in class – tut tut!’, I said ticking the daughter off, though I had to admit the Edgar Evans gaffe was sound stuff.

In other news, you may have noticed that the New Year rolled around, and January whisked past. Resolutions were obviously taken with earnest in January.

The husband has resolved to read more. Now this is a resolution that has far reaching consequences, and we were not entirely sure we were ready to deal with it. What is the problem you ask? No? You did not ask? Well, never mind, I will tell you. It will be a good thing to get off my chest.

The husband is one of those people who beam at charging sockets and wi-fi connectivity in airplanes. While beaming, if you catch his eye by mistake, you can be treated to a most helpful dissertation on how wi-fi over the Arctic tundras should set your senses tingling. His engineering brain marvels and explains. If ever there was one who should’ve been a teacher, there he is readymade. So, of course, we groaned at his resolution. We know what that means.

Right enough, one day, as I was finishing up with the last dregs of cleaning up after a long, arduous day, the daughter came running to me , and said something had to be done about it. “He is boring me with sentiment analysis and K-N-N algorithms and stuff Amma.”

The husband said that the K-Nearest-Neighbor algorithm was most fascinating, and that we must show more curiosity, and showed every inclination to get started on K-N-N 101 right away.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-nearest_neighbors_algorithm

I raised my eyebrows, and shoo-ed them both away – where were those noise canceling headphones when you needed them? A while later, the moon had said Good night, the books read, and I was ready to drift to that beautiful ocean where the spindle of dreams spins, and embrace that soother of souls, Sleep, when the husband traipsed in all set to deliver K-N-N 101 Lecture #2. Evidently, the daughter had firmly put her foot down, and sent him to explain elsewhere. I groaned and let him patter on.

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I have often observed this during my college days as well. All I needed was a professor to lecture on topic-dear-to-his-heart and the mind would most suitably wander. I could see the senses quiet down, almost like I am paying a spiritual homage to the lecturer. The glazed eye has been mistaken for sleep, but it is a homage really. I found the intervening decades have done little to stop this trend, and I found myself pleasantly drowsy as his soothing voice explained depths in trees and coefficients. Mozart and Brahms could not have done better.

I could hear my guardian angel scratch furiously in the margin, the unsavory word: ‘Hypocrite!’

I assured the husband that I wanted only him to be my dearest K-nearest neighbor in the tree of life for many long years together yet, but would he mind very much if I listened with my eyes closed instead of open?

He guffawed loudly at this waking me out of my reverie most rudely and said,’TCHAH!’, and stormed out of the room in mock protest. It seemed like an apt teenage reaction to our teenaged marriage.

“Amma! Sleeping when Appa is explaining? Tut Tut! When knowledge is being shared, you must focus, concentrate and absorb it Amma, not sleep.” said the smart-mouthed scholar drooping like a plant in the desert.

 

Are We To Become Lab Rats?

‘Let’s watch something together Amma.’ , said the children one Friday evening. It is officially our movie night. Watching something that suits all of us is a true test of Democracy (An Email From Mars) The littlest fellow is the easiest to appease, and also the fellow you want to most watch out for. He sits there like a sponge absorbing everything: tilting his head to one side, looking through the corner of his eyes, this child seems like the ideal companion. But, his inappropriate quips at opportune moments have chastened us and we no longer welcome him saying, “Oh – he is too little to know.” He knows!

So, the debate raged – which show can we watch that everyone will enjoy?

Everybody Loves Raymond, Cosmos, Big Bang Theory? How about Lab Rats? 

A resounding cheer went up for Lab Rats.

‘Isn’t that show for Teens?’

‘Well…yes but this little dobukins watches it all the time with me.’ said the daughter tousling her little brother’s hair lovingly.

‘Really?’, I said turning around towards the fellow with my hands on my hips.

‘Yes….but Lab Rats is fine….not teenagie stuff.’ he said chuckling merrily.

Like he knows what teenagie stuff is.  Maybe he does and should that worry me? The daughter now tells me things are inappropriate for us to watch. I wonder what rules she uses.

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Lab Rats is a show about a family where the children have Bionic superpowers – Bree the girl can run free, Adam the hulk can lift a truck, and Chase the fellow whose name sounds like he must run after Bree, instead is the one with superior intellect. They live with their non-bionic stepbrother, Leo.

Like most Television shows these days, they had aced the humor, characterization and it was an enjoyable show. All the same, it left a niggling after-taste in me.

This show captured human desires in a nutshell. We all want to be better. Better than the rest, better than we ever were, better, faster, stronger, smarter. Better to do what?  And where does this betterment stop? We know how any concept can be twisted by thwarted minds to suit themselves as was evident in the sad state of Eugenics.

I am reading Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari, and the same vein popped up again.

The modern economy needs constant and indefinite growth in order to survive. An economy built on everlasting growth needs endless projects – just like the quests for immortality, bliss and divinity.

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Human kind, when we set ourselves on the path to development, most probably do so with good intentions. The problem is once we fix the problems, it seems we can use these very technologies to make things better for those who do not need it. Like  plastic surgery for instance:

Modern plastic surgery was born in the First World War, when Harold Gillies began treating facial injuries in the Aldershot military hospital. When the war was over, surgeons discovered that the same techniques could also turn perfectly healthy but ugly noses into more beautiful specimens. Nowadays, plastic surgeons make millions in private clinics whose explicit and sole aim is to upgrade the healthy and beautify the wealthy.

In Homo Deus, the author goes on to point out this trend in bionic legs, Viagra and memory treatments:

When you develop bionic legs that enable paraplegics to walk again, you can also use the same technology to upgrade healthy people. When you discover how to stop memory loss among older people, the same treatments might enhance the memory of the young. 

No clear line separates healing from upgrading. Medicine almost always begins by saving people from falling below the norm. but the same tools and know-how can then be used to surpass the norm. Viagra began life as a treatment for blood pressure problems. To the surprise and delight of Pfizer, it transpired that Viagra can also overcome impotence. It enabled millions of men to regain normal sexual abilities; but soon enough men who had no impotence problems in the first place began using the same pill to surpass the norm, and acquire sexual powers they never had before.

(Bolding my own)

Growth is a wonderful thing. For the first time in the history of mankind, we are able to self regulate our belligerence, spend our resources towards ending disease and poverty, and feed our growing numbers. Science and Capitalism have enabled this wonderful state. But what next? This relentless growth has led to an inordinate strain on the one planet we have. Previously, we could look forward to discovering new lands, but now we have mapped every ounce of the Earth, and we know no Middle Earth or Earthsea is hidden anymore. We have tapped them all. Our only hope is to find a parking garage planet close by so we can continue to expand at the rate we are now.

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We need to change course for a sustainable future of our planet, and Capitalism with its growth needs seems to be ill-suited to call for such changes.

The recently deceased author, Ursula K Le Guin, said in a speech once:

“We live in capitalism,” said Le Guin, “Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

I am sure our intense need to survive will push us towards self-regulation and conservation.

With immortality, bliss and divinity projects, are we not Gods capable of solving anything? But, we are also a species who can make the Butter Battle Book by Dr Seuss a sad reality.

Are we to become our own Lab Rats? What would our super-powers be? More importantly, will our shortcomings be even more apparent with our strengths magnified, or will our shortcomings be magnified too?

The Green Belt Movement

It was a beautiful day, and the children had been very good on a hike together. We had chuckled our way through the muddy paths still damp with the recent rains, attempted to climb a tree, looked out for robins, thrushes and hawks.  Cows on these hillsides were minding their own business and grazing. Calves of all sizes made a welcome sight. A couple of pups were frolicking on the trail, and made for great hilarity. There is something alluring about the fresh outlook of the young and we enjoyed the hike taking in these heartening glimpses of life thriving around us.  The children, puppies and calves on the trail that day were bursting with the fount of youth.

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From up above, we could see the tiny houses lined up like toys on glimmering silver ribbons. The Earth around us was clothed in marvelous hues of Green, and peace seemed to hail. ‘Did you know? All those areas down there were fruit orchards with thousands of trees.  Apparently, these hills too were more like forests about 50-60 years ago. Then they cut down the trees so the cattle could graze, but now the ranchers have gone, and we don’t really need all these hills for pasture, but the trees are gone too.’, I said sadly.

The children looked appalled at this, and we set about discussing how important and beautiful trees are. “I wish we could replant all those trees!” said my little environmentalists wistfully, and I heartily agreed.

The Green Belt Movement

A few days later, I was grazing in the library, when my eyes fell upon the beautiful book,  Planting the Trees of Kenya, by Claire A Nivola, The Story of Wangari Maathai. I picked it up intrigued, for I love to read about that beautiful continent.

Planting the trees of Kenya - Wangari Maathai
Planting the trees of Kenya – Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai was the first woman to win the Nobel prize from the continent of Africa. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for making the connection between natural environments and the well-being of the people.

Wangari Maathai – Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2004. First woman from Africa.

The book started off with the beautiful page depicting the Kenyan countryside when Maathai was a little girl. Kenya was clothed in its ‘dress of green’ when she was a little girl.  Fig trees, olive trees, cornets and flame trees covered the land, and fish filled the pure waters of the streams.

The Fig tree was considered sacred, and it was one of her favorite trees.

Planting the trees of Kenya - Wangari Maathai
Planting the trees of Kenya – Wangari Maathai

Maathai then went to the US to study with the Benedictine nuns where she imbibed the lessons of doing more than you receive and to make a larger impact on Earth.

Planting the trees of Kenya - Wangari Maathai
Planting the trees of Kenya – Wangari Maathai

She returned to Kenya, full of hope, only to see the landscape completely transformed. Even the fig tree was gone, the streams had run dry and large-scale farming had take over the individual farmers needs. Food was more expensive and she was shocked to see that ‘economic progress’ had left behind a sickly, weak, and much poorer populace.

She was the first person to make the link between people and nature living together in harmony. 

Why not plant trees?

As can be expected, she was faced with opposition and setbacks at every turn. Her nursery did not thrive, the governments did not embrace the program, but none of that deterred her. She encouraged the women to take up tree planting. She visited schools and gave the children saplings to plant and nurture trees and even taught them how to make their own nurseries.

 

She, and this is my favorite, appealed to the gun-bearing soldiers with the slogan : Gun in your righthand and a tree seedling in your left. She said to them that if their goal was to save Kenya, both aspects are equally important.

Ever since Wangari began her Green Belt Movement in 1977, tree by tree, person by person, 30 million trees have been planted in Kenya, and the planting has not stopped.

Planting the trees of Kenya - Wangari Maathai
Planting the trees of Kenya – Wangari Maathai

http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/wangari-maathai

What can we do?

When I look at the hills near where I live clothed in its rich shade of green in the rainy season, my heart sings. But I know this is a short-lived season before we have signs saying ‘Brown is the new green’, and the summers dry out the landscape bringing with it the threat of wildfires.

Last year, the very places that were most damaged by the wildfires were also affected by devastating flooding in California. These are nature’s wake-up calls.

SoCal – same areas affected by fires now devastated by storms

Every year roughly the size of the country of Costa Rica is being lost to deforestation.

UN Deforestation Statistics

Wangari Maathai died in 2011, but her lessons for us need not.  What will it take for a similar program to take root all over the world, so we can save ourselves and our beautiful planet?

Ode to the Headphones

I surveyed the Christmas gifts piled under the tree and felt we had gone overboard again – did I really need those noise canceling headphones? The husband and children vociferously insisted in 18 Mhz frequencies that I did.

“But I like listening to the natural sounds when I walk. I don’t want to shut it out and listen to something else! The chickadees song, the squirrel’s titters and the wind rustling through the trees, these are all sources of joy. I feel alive when all my senses are in sharp focus! It IS music for me.” I said looking desperate.

Pic from Google search
Pic from Google search

It was perfectly true. Who can stop themselves from thinking of William Wordsworth’s Daffodils while on a brisk walk enjoying full communion with Nature?

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

The daughter rolled her eyes with typical teenage scorn, “ We know you like to listen to the wind rustling through the trees, and the rain pattering and all that. But you got to admit – the train clacking noisily, with you in it, is not exactly a natural sound, and therefore there is nothing wrong with shutting it out!”

It was a fair point. I could also tell that this was one of those things that the husband was high-fiving himself for. The strangest things excite the dear fellow. Like the time his face lit up when he did something brilliant to free up one HDMI port in the spaghetti system of connections near the television area.

“Didn’t you notice the change in sound output? “ he said looking remarkably proud of himself.

The truth was I hadn’t noticed. But when a puppy fetches a piece of wool from under the couch, tangling it all the way through every spot in the hall, and looking mighty pleased with his efforts, that is not the time to be telling the puppy that one was really not looking for the wool. When he rolls on his back lifting his legs to be tickled in his tummy, you coo and tickle the furry creature, and put the wool back somewhere out of reach. So, I did the square thing and tickled his tummy, uh-huh-ing at regular intervals as he related all the things he had to do to change the connections so that the sound system was rigged through the thing-a-ma-jig while retaining the mick-a-mumma-tone through the mimble-tum-milkatonia.

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The noise canceling headphones seem to make him just as happy, and I accepted the gift after he gave the pitch that put poets to shame. The Ode To The Headphone was spirited, bordered on romantic, and clearly reverent. Wordsworth may have pitched it strong with daffodils, but when it came to wireless headphones, the husband won.

I tucked it into my bag wondering if I ever shall use it, and went for a bath using the scented soap the daughter had gifted me (now that is the sort of gift I appreciate.)

A few days later, the husband asked me how I was getting along with the noise-c headphones. I think my shifty look gave the game away. “You are not using them! Give them to me here – I will set it up for you.” he said looking incredulous, yet wondering why he should’ve expected anything better from me.

Hell hath no fury like the headphones damned. I handed over the set carefully preserved.

“Here ..just try this now.” he said with the forcefulness of the wronged, and I accepted with an equally becoming meekness. The symphony of marriage I tell you.

The next day on the train, I looked forward to reading The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux. Maybe reading the book along with the noise canceling headphones would help me see how my world transformed.

It certainly was transformed. But something strange happened.

No sooner had I quietened my hearing, when I noticed the olfactory seemed to be doing double duty. Did noses grow sharper when the hearing dulls? I touched the prominent beak thoughtfully – any sharper and I might as well take up wood-carving. I felt nauseated with unsavory smells. They flooded my nostrils making me want to gag. I looked around alarmed. I had not been warned of this particular side-effect.

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Then, I saw the reason: I had not quite noticed that I was only two feet away from a fellow who had spent the night on the turf, hitting one good shot after another, and had gone to bed on the morning train, after vomiting and soiling himself spectacularly.

Wondering whether a pair of cloth clips for my nose could have been a better gift, I resorted to breathing like a rhino chasing a pack of lions out of its territory – huge snorts followed by short, quick gasps. Mozart was playing something, but all my nose could think of doing was sending signals to the brain with the smells of the samaritan.

I peeked out the window in disgust, and a signboard helpfully told me,

After you die, you will meet God!

Will I still be able to smell when I die? I thought waspishly.

That evening, the family asked me how the headphones were. I said truthfully that they were marvelous for the sound, but went on to relate the smells, and how we shall all meet God, to general hilarity.

The daughter said, “Well….you must savor anything natural Amma. Enjoy your senses, and feel alive!”. She pirouetted around the kitchen deeply inhaling and mocking me in what I thought was a brilliant fashion. I stood there laughing and relishing every bit of my humble pie.

The Tao of Travel gleamed at me with its wisdom, and I said to them. Did you know that Wordsworth – that staunch lover of flowers and fresh air, had no sense of smell?