At the traffic signal, a man alights from a long-distance bus on the right side of your car, with a small bag in his hand. Freshly bathed, neatly oiled-down hair. Probably North Indian.
And then suddenly he starts doing this slow dance, turning round and round, shoulders high, arms in the air, as if to joyous festival music that only he can hear. Right in front of your car. Your driver and you stare at him in astonishment, spell-bound. He doesn't look drunk. But then what is happening? His small jig over, he bends down, touches the ground, and kisses his fingers.
And then walks away, a half-smile on his face.
He was just happy. Happy to be back, happy to have found love, success, whatever. And he was showing it.
This is exactly how you feel, every time you return to Bangalore. But you don't dance on the road to show your happiness. Why not? His joy was so infectious. Every one of us watching this man anxiously ended up smiling from ear to ear. Our morning transformed.
You had forgotten Zorba the Greek, your old role model, your reminder to live life to the fullest, whatever befalls you. And then this stranger dances in front of your car, unabashedly showing his joy.
So much pain, so much fear, so much anger, all around. Yet Zorba's answer to both delight and disaster, was always dance.
The classic "Teach me to dance. Will you?" scene, after the failure of their catastrophic irrigation project.
Gilbert, of course, said it best.
"...We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world.
To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
We must admit there will be music despite everything."
'A Brief for the Defense', Jack Gilbert
Photo from here.
Zorba the Greek: The book, and the movie.