I have been away from this blog for a while. A combination of extra-heavy-duty writing at work, a malfunctioning laptop, and an inability to form words resulted in a bare blog. I came several times intending to write something, and went back thinking I have nothing to say. If you are in India, you would be worried as our country lurches into an unfathomable pandemic disaster due to lax planning and carelessness. It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of numbers, statistics and cling closer to our demons of comfort. I do too. I haven’t focused much on work this week. I haven’t focused on much at all. I had one of the most bizarre weekends in my life, but this week suddenly turned. Whatever was broken healed and got fixed just like that. My laptop. A broken connection. And I smiled and turned to a memory that came to my mind as I woke up.
This story I shared on email. But I don’t think they would mind at all if I share it here.
Many years ago, I was in Chengdu, China. I was studying Mandarin. Well, 10 years ago, to be exact. Sichuan Province is the home of the panda. We had a panda reserve right there in Chengdu, and one day, all of us who were students at the Uni went to see them.
It was cold, and as soon as I entered the reserve, I felt the cold lift with excitement. My group of friends laughed, creating puns on pandas. “It’s a pandastic day,” one would say. “Let’s create pandamonium,” another would see. We walked around for hours, trying to find the pandas. We spotted birds. We spotted peahens and little red pandas. But not the giant pandas. We had made a mistake. We had arrived almost in the afternoon. All the pandas were doing what we should all do – sleep well. But I was determined – – I haven’t come all this way and not see them. “Let’s hang around,” we told each other. And so we did. Our Chinese guides took us to a spot where the pandas hang around too around feeding time. And then this happened. Just like that, with no warning, we spotted a tiny baby panda slowly emerge from the tree branches. We looked up and wanted to squeal but were scared we would frighten them away. Silently, we watched. Baby Panda came down, and then the Mom Panda (I assume the gender here) came too. Lumbering along.
That’s when we spotted a whole group of them, hanging on the branches, all lazing around. The Baby Panda swung the bamboo stalks while Mom Panda watched, still sleepy. Then, ever so slowly (Pandas, we realized, are just not going to be Usain Bolt-type runners), she came over and pulled out more bamboo leaves. She munched a few and offered a few to the Baby Panda.
Delighted, the Baby Panda had their snack and then scampered up. The Mom Panda looked up from eating and then felt that all this effort to eat was too much when you can swing on a branch and watch life go by.
So, that’s what she did.
We craned our cameras. We craned our necks. But they placidly went back to slumbering. We looked at each other, kept our cameras away, and just watched—just this.
For that one moment, I felt peace – that there’s so much beauty in this world. I didn’t see more pandas stir after that. I never saw them gamboling the way I imagined they would. I didn’t go back to the Panda Center again. But I saw that they gave me a little glimpse into life: Relax, eat a little, sleep a lot, and take care of each other. Life will take care of itself.