Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sweet Pleasures of Life

This nutella filled sweet post made me aware of an everyday blogging marathon being encouraged! And the theme for May is "Sweet"! Lovely. I know it's a waste of internet space if I'm let to blog everyday (let alone even blog, but it's too late now... no point crying over spilled milk). But I'm justified to one sweet post, after a sweet satisfaction of completing this week's deadlines.

Someone, somewhere at some point made a philosophical observation, which I’m paraphrasing—“Most of the material pleasures in life are like sugar added to a cup of milk. The sugar makes the milk sweet and tasty just as some materialistic pleasures and comforts make life pleasing. But if one starts to pile up spoons of sugar into the milk, the cloying sweetness makes the milk so unbearable to drink anymore. Just so, we must moderate the extent to which materialistic pleasures are pursued. Too much only leaves us with a nauseating sense of revulsion, not satiation. Unfortunately humans need to reach this state of satiated-revulsion for wisdom to dawn in.”

Quite true. There has to be a balance of both “bitter and sweet” in life to appreciate sweetness all the more. Now regarding those tempting and alluring materialistic pleasures — I have always wondered where my “sinful” pleasure-pursuits lay. What are those materialistic comforts/pleasures/aspects that I indulge in without ever feeling I could be satiated? What are those that I have either discarded after having gone a full cycle, or have never had a fascination towards? And finally what are my sweet and simple pleasures, untainted by any materialism?

The knowledge of any/all of this is of no use to anybody, so this is just a waste of internet space. Yet I figured if those introspection came down on paper/blog I could get more clarity about myself. Everybody needs money, food, clothes, shelter for survival… well most us, barring some brave ascetics who live in the wild. So I’m not counting those as material pursuits, unless one’s need for them changes to higher levels of temptation. 

The materialistic pleasures/pursuits that I don’t think I can ever be satiated with:
* Sleeping on a lush bed with the most comfortable pillows and warm cuddly comforter, the temperature just so, the place dark enough to lull me to sleep, yet with a warm stream of light to provide that soothing glow. Maybe add one of those heavenly water trickling mini-fountains imitating a gurgling stream (or the birds of the rain forest), or best yet have the rain drops patter on the windows. Bliss…. I don’t think I will ever be repulsed with a plush looking bed and pillow set…ever!
* Earrings — But not gold, or diamond or anything with an expensive gem on it. I hate those. Not because I’m noble, but just because my taste happens to be little too “unrefined” to crave for artificial, colored glass beads hanging off a low grade metal.
* One day I hope to own a fancy aquarium with lovely plants, beautiful pebbles and exotic fish. No amount of fish and plants in it can satiate me enough. Along the same lines, I have decided to start amassing fish-collectibles. Any souvenir/object that looks like a fish and I can afford, will be mine. I plan to have a cabinet full by the time I leave this planet. How noble.

The materialistic aspects that I have been satiated with:
I used to be fascinated with make-up sets as a child…probably because I was banished from even going near one. I’m sure most girls have gone through this period of longing for a lipstick. There was a certain fascination associated with looking at those alluring colors, rich texture and glistening package that words couldn’t do justice. I was always told that wearing lip color will make my lips black (mom pointed to Black and White Saroja Devi on TV with her beautifully puckered black lips). Yet I have craved and longed for one, and I finally got to when I was let loose (or rather when I ran away) to be on my own. I was numbed with the amount of choices I had and went crazy with the decision I had to make among the 60 different options. I tore myself and finally picked one, came home tried it on and rubbed it off, then tried it on a little different and then rubbed it off, until I realized I was not bold enough to wear it and go out, for I looked completely artificial. So I went back to the store to try something subtle, something shiny, and something that tasted like berries. Armed with one of each kind I eagerly went home, tried each and hesitantly wore one the next day. I went to the restroom within 10 mins and rubbed it off not being able to stand the self-consciousness. So there, I have issues. I never wear lip color in a professional setting, but the whole craving and temptation has satiated. I no longer ogle at those charismatic brands on magazines and TV. I view all things related to make-up with a detached eye.

Simple pleasures I enjoy:
* Blowing soap bubbles. Sitting with a soapy liquid and blower and blowing colorful bubbles that dance around in the breeze
* Staring inside a tulip and marveling how nature knew just which combination of colors should be painted even on the insides of flowers.
* Waking up at 6 on a Saturday morning and realizing I have three more hours of sleeping
* Watching a baby trying to catch a moving toy
* The feeling when a child not only smiles but also says she misses me
* The feeling when an animal seems to miss me
* Being driven around on a rainy day while I stare out at the accentuated greens on the lawns and trees against the purple sky
* Watching the first sprout of leaf on a potted plant grow
* Watching the second batch of flowers blossom from the plant I thought I wouldn’t be capable of growing
* The smell of the first successfully baked cake, that didn’t burn, fall off the tray or turn sour

I’ll stop with that. I don’t know how many of these “simple” pleasures are really as simple and so very untainted by materialism. For instance, if I didn’t have an oven, I couldn’t bake (I’m not smart enough to make fire and survive). I'm not sure how much materialistic pleasure is just taken for granted as a necessity versus an obsessive luxury. A heater and laptop have become necessities, no longer materialistic pleasure -possessions. And I didn't know where to squeeze in that gluttonous craving for potato chips... a materialistic pleasure versus plain gluttony? But that was an interesting introspection.

What are your sweet pleasure inducing possessions? What are those that you gave up or are trying to? How would you define simple pleasures? :)


SecondSight said...

Such a heart-warming post!!:) I used to hang out at a fish shop all my time in college (can confess that here and not be called lame ;)), and still toy with that make-up fascination.. Its the colors that do it, I think. Hardly ever manage to get them on my face, but they're fun to look at :)
Sticking out the rest of the month with me? :)

Neeraja said...

There was a fish shop near your college! Wow, lucky you! :). Yeah I think it's those tantalizing colors that seem to draw us. I often used to make a trip down the cosmetics aisle just to stare at everything and then come back :). We should give each other company on doing such things together!

rest of the month...each day on something sweet? :)

SecondSight said...

Well.. Ahmedabad is kind of small, everything is near everything, especially when you move from Delhi ;). But the shop is amazing, will take you when you come to Ahd!:)

The month's theme is optional,I think. I'm enjoying the exercise of finding something that sweetens the spirit each day, so lets see how long I can stick it out..

Neeraja said...

I think we should first make a trip to the fish store in our very own local town ;).

I would love to write everyday and bore people crazy, but I have this big Q next week :(. But will try to keep my mind and eyes pried out for ideas and will pop them in here during these frequent breaks! :)

Priya said...

Your post was a pleasure to read, and it was nice to reflect on the simple things we enjoy. Simple pleasures to me are ones that I can enjoy at any age, pleasures that make me gently smile, pleasures that for a moment makes me forget everything else...

Material pleasures -- I would like to have a nice garden someday, with at least these elements -- few jasmine plants, few roses, few tulips, and other cheerful flowers, some veggies and herbs, few huge shady trees;under one of the shady trees, a mini place to sit or even lie (like a thinnai), and a hammock, a small pond (or mini fountain) in centre, and maybe wooded area beyond;

Simple pleasures--To get wet in rain and pretend I do not have an umbrella; To catch the dew drops from leaves; To break the bubbles in a bubble-wrap; To wake up on a cloudy sunday morning, realize there is no “do now” tasks, happily sit with my steaming hot coffee and do nothing or browse idly.

Pleasures that I miss -- making my paper boat sail in rain water puddle, enjoying a hot bajji on a rainy day, waiting for the jasmine seller to buy jasmine and take a deep smell of the fresh scent, bargaining with the autowallahs, shopkeepers, early morning filter kaapi in a sleepy state, eating on a banana leaf..
I am going to stop here, because the list is becoming endless...

Neeraja said...

Priya thanks for sharing your simple pleasures! :). I agree, having a lush garden with jasmine and herbs and ripe tomatoes is just soo heavenly! A small pond with Koi fish maybe? :)

And your simple pleasures are beautiful! rain, dew, bubbles, sleep, coffee... perfect :)

we should get together and make bajji, dosa and try to look for a banana leaf here :)

SecondSight said...

A little tip- Banana leaves can be found in the freezers of Wegmans :)

Perception said...

Beautiful post, loved it from beginning to end, cant believe I read this so late.

I and with you on these:
-gluttonous craving for potato chips... a materialistic pleasure versus plain gluttony?- Plain gluttony maybe ;)
-Watching the second batch of flowers blossom from the plant I thought I wouldn’t be capable of growing

Adding a few more:
-The pleasue of pulling the blinds all the way up, listening to the pitter patter of rain drops on the chimney, sipping on cup of hot tea and listening to my fav songs
-Cracking a silly joke without really meaning to and watching hubby laugh out loud, twinkle in his eyes
-Walking close to car and finding a puppy starring at me, waving his tail happily
Omg there are so many more, I really have to restrain myself for spamming ur comments space now.

But just one more, wrt the fish and fishtank, my uncle had one back in India. As kids he would hand me and my cousin some money and ask us to get gold fish from the shop down the street. I would look with eyes wide and surprised at how the shopkeeper wuld grab fish in a little net thing and put it in a plastic bag filled with water. Oh the joy of holding that bag!

Neeraja said...

Thanks for sharing Perception! Your flowers grew too! Yay! Your plants made it through winter too :). Why does everyone worry about comments space.. write away! :) You should otherwise dedicate a blog post to all your pleasures!

You're so lucky to have brought back so many bags of goldfish! In India I never had a chance to get fish :(