Saturday, July 06, 2019

2570: The art of watching the world go by

Picture this.

I am in the restaurant of an upscale 4-star property at Delhi. They serve some scrumptious breakfast, but I don't fancy an early meal - so I am sitting with a cup of black steaming coffee and a small meal in front of me.

My back is against the restaurant and my table is facing the wall (a glass one opening into the garden). I like it that way, the silence and the isolation works for me.

And then I see a person arrive at the table next to me. He must be around 40-50, slightly pot-bellied. He has arrived as breakfast is about to close and the servers are pressurizing us to (re)fill our plates faster.

He is in a black t-shirt and a pair of denims. He has thin-rimmed, but thick aperture glasses. And the hair is wiry, like the hair of someone who is losing it, and  is thinning in quite an accelerated manner.

He is not at all perturbed by the race and the buzz around us. He orders a coffee, just like me - and then rests against the back of his chair.

And then it begins.......

He slowly picks up the towel (napkin) and drapes it around his thighs. Very slowly, almost a good 2 minutes for just this. He looks up to see his coffee arriving. Does not appear grumpy, but is very silent, almost as if he does not belong to this room. He stares intently at the coffee as it is being placed near him, instead of the server's face or gait.

He then picks up the eating spoon. And kid you not, he stares into it intently almost using it like a mini mirror. He stares and stares, a good 1-2 minutes at least.

Then, finally, he stirs his coffee. Remember he has neither added milk nor sugar. Is he stirring to cool it down? Can only guess.

He gingerly removes the spoon, places it on the plate.....and then rests against the chair again. He has not had a sip yet. This resting goes on for a good 1-2 minutes.

He picks his coffee and stares into it. A peaceful Buddha-like stare - of a person who has seen it all, and knows everything he needs to know about life. He probably knows that a cup of coffee is the simplest and the easiest way to temporal nirvana.

Eventually, he has a sip. Savors it. Then another. Again savors it.
As he is sipping coffee, he looks intently at the skin of his hand. He has freckles. Is he counting them?

I was mesmerized by this dance. I usually finish my coffee cup in about 5-7 minutes, but this time I stretched into a good 15 minutes. I am spellbound by this show in front of me.

Is this mindfulness? Is this the wisdom of a defeated man? Is this the calmness of a man who knows eventually everything goes? Is this the kink of a man who knows the only way to enlightenment is through a cup of coffee? Is he thanking the beans? Is he thanking the producers? Is he just savoring life when it offers him a few minutes of silence?

I felt as if I had seen the Buddha. I really did. This is what the world looks like when you slow it down. Just one graceful amalgamation of a black liquid and the slow dance of death around it.

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