Thursday, July 11, 2013

Are there alligators in this river?

It is summertime and all those people who were cocooned inside their homes over the wet, overcast, cold, grey months are now fluttering like butterflies by the river.  Having to share the path with so many people will be my pet peeve until Labor Day, when the bill will ring and bring the summer fun to an end.  But, that is a good two months away!  Cranky I am even in this middle age!

The days are long, and mislead us into thinking that the good times will last forever.  I have to consciously remind myself that there is work to do.  Else, it can become so easy to merely recline in a semi-shade by the river and forget everything.

"Why do you wake up so early?" asked my neighbor, Don, when in our conversation I told him that I typically wake up sometime before six.  "Do you have to go milk the cows?"  We laughed.

Laughter is easier, it seems, in the sunny summer months--perhaps because laughter, as an emotion, requires human company.  We can cry alone, yes, but we can't tickle ourselves funny.  And humans are not out and about amongst other humans most of the rest of the months.

On the path, more often than not, the men folk are either alone, by themselves, as I am, or with female company. Women, on the other hand, are rarely ever alone, by themselves.  They are with friends, daughters, kids,  grandkids, and dogs.  Very different worlds we men and women come from.  And, they seem to be always engaged in conversations.  Could they really have that much to say?  Even when on the path by the river?  Don't we men have anything to talk about?  Are we merely solitary bloggers?

A woman passed me on her bike, with the kid trailer in tow.  I saw her stop when she was halfway on the bridge. She walked back to pick up something, as I too neared that something.  Turned out it was the kid's sunglasses.  I wonder at what age kids begin to wear them.

I have worn sunglasses for perhaps a grand total of three months my entire life.  My first pair, I lost them when trying to jump on to a running bus in Bangalore.  The youthful exuberance of a high school graduate!  The week-old sunglasses lay in pieces on the Bangalore asphalt.  Two years ago, I bought myself a pair of prescription sunglasses, and used it sparingly when in India.  I bought them because of a concern that I should protect my eyes as I get older.  The eyes that that made one fellow-graduate student joke, many years ago, that I should wear contacts so that I could flaunt my "beautiful brown eyes."  Only later I came to know he was bisexual.

A tiny voice came out from the kid trailer.  "Mom, are there alligators in this river?"

Kids seem to be infinitely sharper these days.  Compared to them, I was a nincompoop when I was a kid.  I doubt if I would have constructed such a thoughtful sentence even after two years of formal schooling, and here was this tiny tot, perhaps four years old, asking about alligators in the river.  If the world of the future will be determined by kids like that, hey, the future is in safe hands.

"No, sweetheart" the mother replied as I was passing them.  "There are no alligators here."

Parenting requires enormous patience.  To answer questions. To feed. To wash. To wake up. To do this. And to do that.  To tell the kid there are no alligators in the river.  What a shame that all these are not valued, and instead we worry so much about the money we earn.  About the GDP of a country.  About how to grow the economy.  I would think that the dollar value of this parent's response about alligators alone is way more than whatever it is that I contribute through my work.

Of course, those thoughts on patience and parenting came much later in the walk.  Right then, the male in me could only think of being funny.  "No alligators.  Only crocodiles" I said with a chuckle as I continued to walk past them.

We men are strange, yes!


Ramesh said...

A post that goes here and there and number of bits I could wisecrack on.

What's the problem if there are lots of people on the riverside ?? In any case you have to define lots considering that the entire population of Eugene is three men and a dog :)

And I see that the definition of "so early" is sometime before 6 AM !!!!

Not sure what problems American men have against a few of them walking together. You don't have to be gay to walk together. Nice to be among male friends sometimes, I would think ..... I can understand women never being alone as exercise of jaw muscles is one of the objectives of walking.

And where did GDP and growth land up in a post such as this :):)

Sriram Khé said...

haha ... those were some wandering thoughts on a pleasant summer day ...

three men and a dog ... i am sure you wrote that only to trigger my memories of that awesome writing by jerome k jerome. didn't we have an excerpt from that in our school curriculum? well, there is a chance that yours was different from what we had ...

of course, GDP ... how do you monetize all these things? we ought to measure what we value, and instead we seem to increasingly value only what we measure as GDP ... it is all related, buddy ;)

of course, the observations on the genders are highly exaggerated, as are yours, i am sure. (good thing nancy doesn't read my blog posts!!!) especially when you consider this: for one, lots of males on the path are bicyclists than walkers. those men whiz past ... but, i take certain liberties with my ramblings on life because, well, they are ramblings on life ;)

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