Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 31, Tuesday August 12, 2008


simple pleasures of life

The saying goes: small is beautiful. And the saying rings true to its essence as far as pleasures are concerned. While the term "pleasure" is a subjective one, and people have found different means and ends of obtaining it, this week in Star Lifestyle, we narrow our focus down to a niche that is often overlooked- the smaller, simpler pleasures. These are the little things that we take delight in, little things we cherish and stow away to the back of our minds to be evoked later as fond memories. We revel in them, yet sad as it may be, much of such pleasures we take for granted. For an up, close and personal explanation of all this column-filling ramble, here is the scoop...

Size does matter... really?
The poster for "Godzilla" may have proudly proclaimed the benefits of size in its tagline. But I keep recalling what Arundhati Roy said in an interview about her Booker Prize winning novel, "The God of Small Things"- that it is a minor issue, the small things in life, that ultimately makes tallies in the long run.

To further clarify, given that I keep waxing rhetoric unnecessarily every now and then, some examples will come in handy. Think of how good it feels after a long day of work at the height of summer, to just run to a general store around the corner for a popsicle (I distinctly remember Igloo Lollies which were vendored out for Tk 5 a piece, but the price must be higher now). Or think of how, as school-going children, we dashed with the echoes of the school-ending bell still fading, to the men selling 'aachar' just outside the premises. After half a day of sitting for tests and dunking balls in the basketball court, the 'aachars' made from 'boroi' or 'chalta' or mangoes mixed with mustard sauce, and handed out in paper cones, tasted like what ambrosia must taste like.

Living off others's happiness
There is also a certain pleasure in seeing other people happy, and this is especially so when you know that you are the reason for it. Just the other day, when we were tossing around ideas in the office for this article, one of my colleagues came up with an interesting anecdote. She told us about how she loved cooking for her late father, and how he used to relished whatever she made. "I remembered just a few months before he passed away," she said, "I made this simple cucumber sandwich for him, brought along a grilled corn on the cobs, and went to pick him up form work. I still remember how happy he was, and how happy I was for the simple reason that I could make my father happy." She continued, "While my brother, obviously jealous, used to pretend to choke on my cooking, my father was always the opposite- he rated every dish I made, and it goes without saying that he used to give me all 9s and 10s."

Similarly, charity often offers a pleasure, particularly when the donor sees that the donation is making someone happy, making even a minute difference in the beneficiary's life for the better. My mother and father, for instance, provided money to a rickshaw puller in Cox's Bazar a couple of years back to buy his own rickshaw. I hear how happy the man was, and how this happiness gave pleasure to my parents. The amount was not large; an amount we perhaps would not hesitate to spend on shoes or fragrances, but it was an amount that ensured someone's subsistence. The rickshaw puller, named Ali, now gives us rides on his rickshaw whenever we visit Cox's Bazar, and is delighted that he does not have to work for someone else anymore.

Finding the long-lost
What are the simple things, the small events that make us smile? One such simple pleasure, we experience when we find something we had lost some time back. For example, finding an old book or CD in some forsaken nook of the room while spring-cleaning. How many times have this happened to us? And how many times have we put a pause to the dusting, wiping or whatever, in order to play the CD just one more time or to leaf through the pages of that book to come across some favourite paragraph that we had read again and again to the point of memorisation? And who could forget... the pleasure of stuffing one's hands into the pocket of some old pair of jeans or into the depths of her prehistoric bag, only to fish out a crinkled hundred taka note?

This does not apply to material things only, but also to people. Bumping unexpectedly into an old friend after many years in the streets or in some party is an example. In this era of high end of technology, there are newer ways of "bumping into people"- such as through some public portal like Facebook. Just the other day, I saw a Facebook friend request from my primary school best friend who I have had no contacts with since I was eleven years old- we sort of drifted apart after we both left for different schools.

It runs in the family...
Owing to the humongous number of offspring our grandparents have brought forth into this world, we have more cousins than we can count with all our fingers and toes. They say cousins are a blessing, and they sure are. Planning get-togethers, meeting for lunch and the likes with cousins can be a great source of fun. Many arrange stay-overs at someone or the others's house for movie marathons. I remember doing the same with my cousins (and often family friends), watching up to five movies a night. To add to the pleasure of it all, we made frequent uses of the pause button of the remote control, and made our way to the kitchen like an army waiting to be fed. There, while the clock showed two in the morning, we made ourselves "midnight snacks" out of the weirdest things possible- like leftover chicken curry on crackers or even double layer tuna and marmalade sandwiches, with bags of crisps and bottles of Mountain Dew to wash them down with.

In the end...
In the end, I cannot help but think that Arundhati Roy has a point- small things in life do count. These are the things that cumulatively pave way for things that are greater, somehow more worthwhile. And as far as pleasure is concerned, it runs parallel to the analogy. We have all discovered our simple pleasures whether to a larger or smaller extent. It is now up to us make use of them at every opportunity we get…

By Shahmuddin Ahmed Siddiky
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Models: Sabrina, Shameem, Liza, Achin, Mony, Surid


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