In the world of wonder



September 2017

By Purnima Coontoor

Our ability to wonder is the magic key that unlocks the scintillating world of discovery, invention, knowledge, play, and finally self-realisation, says Purnima Coontoor.

One morning, a man started playing the violin standing outside a metro station in Washington DC. He played six famous masterpieces of great composers for about 45 minutes. It being the rush hour, hundreds of people went through the station. But barring a few who slowed down to listen for a while and throw a few coins into his hat, people hurried on their way to their destinations. Among the only attentive audience were children, who, tagging along their parents, stopped to listen to the violinist. But they were invariably forced to move along by the adults who were clearly in a hurry. The children kept looking back at him and straining to listen even as they were dragged away. In all, the violinist collected 32 dollars in 45 minutes, and when he stopped there was just one who walked up and spoke to him.

The violinist, apparently, was celebrated musician Joshua Bell, whose concert was sold out just three days earlier in a Boston theatre at approximately $100 a seat. This experiment in social behavior was set up by Washington Post to assess the perception, taste and priorities of people in contemporary times.  

I read aloud this Whatsapp forward at the breakfast table that morning, and went on to list the implications of this experiment, most obviously the lack of time and inclination among most of us to recognise and appreciate beauty in commonplace situations. “So?” remarked my software engineer son dismissively, “Which idiot would expect a celebrity to perform incognito at a metro station, when people have a million things on their minds? There should be a time and place for everything. I hope this was one inference that was derived from this exercise.” My husband grunted in agreement, both left for work in a flurry of activity as I sighed in resignation.

That afternoon, I visited a handicrafts sale with a friend, and was smitten by the vibrant colours, fabrics and artifacts on sale. As I lingered admiringly over an intricate hand-woven basket, the salesman at the counter called out to me in exasperation, “Madamji, lena hai to jaldi lelo, nahin toh aage bado. Yeh museum thodi na hain…” (Buy it if you want, else leave. This isn’t a museum). Embarrassed, I mumbled a ‘sorry’ and left. I doubt if one is allowed to linger even in a museum these days, I fumed, the whole world seems to be in such a hurry all the time. “Time is of essence. Practicality and efficiency are the premium qualities of a successful person in contemporary times, my dear,” said my friend. Sure, but ‘What is life, if full of care, there is no time to stand and stare?’ This was poet Davies anguished cry in his celebrated poem Leisure way back in 1911, so this malady
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Comments [ 3 ]

Aroon Dasappa

Superb illustration of thoughts, perceptions and experiences of person seeking out answers to ultimate knowledge (google ka baap... we can say)..... Lage raho munni bhai.... Thank you Purnima for the sharing.


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Aroon Dasappa

Superb illustration of thoughts, perceptions and experiences of person seeking out answers to ultimate knowledge (google ka baap... we can say)..... Lage raho munni bhai.... Thank you Purnima for the sharing.


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natesh

pranaams ! written from the heart... no wonder ! very inspiring to read this and aspire for its unfolding... many meditate and yet find this elusive... escapades to holy places give temporary wonder... i wonder what is the root and source of this wonderment and how to sustain its kiddish innocence across a world of commerce and conniving capitalism... lets sure keep wondering... :-)


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