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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sitting on a large stone..

I am not a very big fan of Paulo Coelho, but there is one story of his that I like a lot. More than the lesson imparted at the end of it, I liked the way of the impartation. It goes something like:

The teacher placed a large glass jar on the table.
Then out of a bag he took ten stones, each the size of an orange, and began placing them, one by one, in the jar.
When the jar was filled to the brim with stones, he asked his students:
‘Is it full?’ They all agreed that it was. The teacher, however, took some gravel from another bag and by jiggling the large stones around inside the jar, managed to fit in quite a lot of gravel.

‘Is it full now?’ The students said, yes, this time it was definitely full. At that point, the teacher opened a third bag, this time full of fine sand, and he began to pour it into the jar. The sand filled up any empty spaces between the large stones and the gravel, right up to the top.
‘Right,’ said the teacher. ‘Now the jar is full. What do you think I’ve been trying to demonstrate to you?’
‘That it doesn’t matter how busy you are, there’s always room to fit in something else,’ said one student.
‘Not at all. What this little demonstration shows us is that we have to put the large stones in first because, afterwards, they won’t fit. Now what are the important things in our lives? What are the plans we postpone, the adventures we never have, the loves we fail to fight for? Ask which are the large, solid stones that keep God’s flame alive in you and put them into your jar of decisions now, because very soon there will be no room for them.’

I usually recollect this story during my daily and almost always, eventful morning bus journeys to office. The overflowing bus, precariously leaning towards the sensitive entry-exit side, provides a good bird eyes’ view of the peak morning traffic.
Then I notice how the big buses, vans, cars etc resemble big stones in a glass jar-type road. Just when I think that the road can’t possibly be any more packed, I hear honking, followed by yellow gravel-type autos, with adventurous drivers twisting and turning to occupy the empty spaces between these bigger stones. This has to be it – I think. Ding! Wrong again – in comes a horde of shiny-black-helmet sand-type bikers, riding full-speed; tilting their bike at amazing angles, getting in between the big stones and the gravel.
The early morning portrait is now full of green buses, silver cars, yellow autos and black bikers. Above the rapidly developing pollution cloud, protected from the searing morning heat, sitting in a hard-earned place and disdainfully watching the filling up of free spaces in the road, I feel like a queen of a vehicle-jungle. As I grin happily at the thought, the grandma next to me gives me a sympathetic look and decides to look the other way.
The little pleasures in life! **Sigh**


Anupama said...

Do you know at the end he empties a cup of coffee into the jar. He asks "Do you know whats that for". It means no how much work we have, we are never too busy to catch a cup of coffee with a dear friend." I love that line. Though knowing me, you know I prefer fruit juice!

Very interesting comparision... I have wondered many a time how this same road is going to handle twice the number of vehicles just 15-20 years from now. India's population 2 billion (gulp!)

antbrain said...

Nice blog and an equally good comment too :)) 2 billion is just going to be a lot of fun!!

catce said...

fantastic post! loved it. thats very creative thinking, indeed.

Archana said...

Hey Anu!
You read Paolo Coelho?!! NIce nice.. Ya i remembe the coffee addition. But you see, Since I had to search in the net for the 'exact' story, I couldn't get the coffee part at all!
And don't worry Anu.. if its not coffee we'll end up having tang or acidic soups! [:)]

Traffic is horrible.. and that would be an understatement now! I can't imagine Nandanam, T.Nagar and worse, Kodambakkam & Vadapalani @2billion population!!

Archana said...

Thanks Ashwin & Jiju! Chennai is packed to the 'brim'!

catce said...

but still a long way from coming close to mumbai. i remember every street in mumbai felt like it was overflowing with people. trains, buses, roads - everything in that city is full. that was the first impression i got and it took a while to start liking that place. that was a feeling even after i had stayed at another crowded city, good old calcutta! when india becomes 2 bn, I hope I stay in a far away village in remote TN. as long as I have AC, internet, can stay next to hills and cattle, I can live happily ever after with my wife in such a place :-)

Archana said...

My next destination - Mumbai ( I think) , and I am sure that then I will end up comparing the traffic with a KFC chicken house.
Looks like you will be re-living your experiences soon!

Nitin Warrier said...

I like the comparison with the traffic, well in essence anything got to do with transportation catches my interest!! ;)
but yeah for sure it makes sense to build a foundation and then the pillars....the students view was right too though!
safely double the number of vehicles by 2020! its going to be one huge mess if govt doesn't increase gas prices and do a surgical change in city and transport planning process....they r only digging a deeper hole rt now, since they control all decisions!! but yet they cant implement....have to either go the china way or the US way...

Archana said...

I am wondering what 'can' be done to improve the current state of affairs... increasing fuel prices? I dont know. Better road layout planning - the new flyovers cropping up in chennai are messing it up more!
The future some wonderful unknown answers for us!