What is normal in 2018?

“It’s cold!” I said to the hotel doorman.

“Yes, it is,” he replied, in amiable agreement.

“Is this normal?”

He scoffed slightly, not unkindly, and said, “what is normal in 2018?” He gave me a knowing look, and we were no longer talking about the weather. I nodded mutely.

He looked like a native of the city, although it was such a melting pot that I couldn’t be sure. It didn’t matter anyways. These days, it feels like the virus of abnormality has spread everywhere. Nothing feels predictable, everything feels like an anomaly all the time, every day. The exception has become the rule.

The weather is topsy turvy. A few weeks ago, there was a hailstorm in rural Maharashtra, which ruined budding crops and some livelihoods along with them. Today, February is not even over and it feels like we’re in the peak of the May summer, it is sweltering in Mumbai. Traffic rides on the wrong side of the road, and feels righteous for doing so.

Black is white, up is down, this is that.

I tried to watch “The Handmaid’s Tale”, a new TV show, and I couldn’t. It’s closeness to the world we live in proved too eerie and creepy for me. The disturbing thing is that a story like that doesn’t feel like a fantasy out there on the fringe; it is close to home.

I don’t mean to get all dark and moody here. This blog is about a reprieve from that stuff, where the good, simple things of life are to be seen and celebrated. So let me try to take a cheerier turn on this post.

I was at a retail store the other day to do a bit of shopping. (I hate shopping and do it as an obligation to be presentable in society.) After selecting my preferred shoes, I asked the salesman to ring them up. He tried, and his credit card machine got stuck. It was stuck for quite a while. I sat on the comfy little backless chairs that shoe stores typically have, waiting. He felt nervous and kept apologizing. I waved him away, telling him that it happens to the best of us. Finally, the magical whirring of the machine could be heard, the authorization had passed through and the sale was rung up. As I turned to leave, he said, “most customers would not have been as nice as you.”

I was taken aback. He was expecting to be chewed out, and a small act of patience and understanding threw him off. I suppose it’s not that difficult to believe. Time has become such a scarce commodity that we no longer tolerate extra demands on it, though we also know very well that life is unpredictable and plans are thrown in disarray all the time. And exactly for this reason, it has become so ridiculously easy to be a bright spot in someone’s day.

I really enjoyed delighting him. I think I’ll try this with more people. I’ll make this the new normal of 2018.

About Archana

I'm Indian and Canadian, and many other countries in between. I read comics every morning and believe the world could do with slowing down.
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