Infectious Smiles

My inspiration for writing this post came from a very simple feeling, which I am sure all of us would have fallen victim to more than once. This is not the first time I felt this way, nor would I wish for it to be the last. 🙂  But it was just the experience and its effects which got me thinking and I decided to pen down my thoughts.

                I was travelling from Delhi to Bangalore on board a train. For those who might not be aware, it takes 3 days (two nights) to reach Bangalore from Delhi, so it’s a long journey, which I enjoy and plan to make the most of. It is easier, convenient and faster to travel by airplane, but I rather look forward to a train journey because, you are stuck in a compartment for days at a stretch, without any external influences and places to go – this gives me time to think and read, two of my favorite past-times. Many of my thoughts, “revelations”, and blog posts have occurred during train journeys. Of course, Indian trains are not as very quiet and comfortable as the ones abroad, but even in the hustle-bustle of talking co-passengers, hawkers, vendors and yelling (read crying) kids, I find them quite relaxing and “peaceful”. Now that I come to think of it, one reason why train journeys allow me to spend time contemplating and reading instead of wasting time in trivial things may be due to the lack of network coverage on my phone (so no watsapp, no games, etc.) and the lack of charging ports for my laptop (we do have charging ports of trains now, but always, there are more chargers than charging points – heck, I have even seen people boarding a train with their chargers in hand, which they plug in before even settling down – weird :P). So the external world’s distractions are cut down, allowing me to concentrate on “more important things in life”.

                But I digress, so coming back to this particular journey, it was my second day and as always, I had managed to avoid talking to my co-passengers, in order to avoid empty conversations and to get some time alone with my book. I was engrossed in my book, and there was this family seated right in-front of me, mom, dad, a son and a daughter. They were playing cards – which is the undisputed leader of past-times in train journeys, in India. The girl was around 9 and the boy would have been around 15. However much one wishes to concentrate, the continuous jibes and one-liners which are associated with Indian card games, ought to grab ones attention from time to time. So this one hand, when it was the girl’s turn, she flicked a card off the deck, being very sneaky and trying to hide her illegal move, however – no surprise – everyone saw her. What happened next was pleasantly surprising; everyone started smiling looking right at her. The girl was nervous, when the game stopped, but the smiles made her comfortable and soon there was a smirk on her face as well.

                What happened next is what motivated me to write this article. I had a smile on my face as well. Mind you, the details that I described above were made known to me after everything had happened.  When I looked up, the game was paused and everyone was smiling looking at the girl who was blushing and smiling as well. It was just the smiles which made me smile. I felt happiness for no reason, without knowing what was happening, there was no time for me to control it, before I knew it, my lips had parted and I was grinning looking at the family. I realized that it may appear as eavesdropping on their conversation and game, not that they would have minded, but my lips were already drawn into a smirk. At this point, the older son noticed me and smiled back at me, but strangely, I froze, not knowing what to do. I did not want to jeopardize the distance that I had created to give me time to read, as a smile can very easily lead to conversations. Their laughter lasted a few seconds, after which they got back to their game and I was left alone, as desired, owing to my cold behavior.

                This incident struck me and ignited quite a few thought chains in my mind. It is often said that laughter is contagious, and definitely, this wasn’t the first time I experienced it, but since I had time to recollect my thoughts, this was the time when I analysed the experience.

                Smiling strangers often get smiles in return – and polite behavior. A laughing crowd makes make one feel light and relaxed even if one does not know the reason of the laughter. Why does this happen? I mean, one may be engrossed in deep thinking, worrying about something, be angry or experiencing any other feeling, but a smile or a laugh, definitely raises the spirits; and before you know it, one’s smiling back.

                People often hold back their smiles consciously in unknown situations or amongst strangers, heck, I would have done it tens of times. I have often despised myself after not having returned smiles (but I am a shy person ;)). My reasons vary from trying to avoid a conversation, social insecurity to trying to escape a random introduction or conversation. Someone one said, “A smile returned, is a signal to ‘come linger’”, however, I, for one, feel that a smile begets a smile. Overcome your social insecurity, have the courage to politely excuse yourself, if you do not like the conversation that follows, but a smile should always be returned. After all, it is from strangers that we learn things we wouldn’t know otherwise.

God bless that family.

 

Fiimaan Illaah

Mars – A lifeless planet

Here is something i wrote some time ago, actually a couple of years ago – when the study and exploration of Mars was the top news with NASA sending bots to explore the surface and new headlines uncertain about whether water/river remains were confirmed or not, to be published, but lost in depths of my laptop. As has happened before, I am back to rejuvenate my blog 😛 , Hope you enjoy it.

 

Imagine this:

 

Mars 3 Billion years ago. When our solar system was relatively quite young; though Mars was not in the optimal habitable zone of our Sun, it was close to it. The solar system being ‘recently’ born was quite hot and the planets viz. mercury, venus were just balls of lava and fire. The earth was far from being hospitable to life as it had not cooled down enough to support organic life. Mars on the other hand, was farther away from the sun and had thus cooled significantly more than the planets closer to our Sun.

Mars too was a ball of hot lava when it was born of cosmic dust and rocks, which heated up under the influence of their own gravitational fields and the intense heat from the Sun when it started to burn! But as time passed it cooled, till it formed a crust which was solid and developed a clear atmosphere which was not full of sulfur from the lava anymore.

More time passed, the layers of soil emerged, the elements on the planet shifted and organized better, the lava receding to the depths of the planet and its exterior started to cool. The atmosphere retained most of the heat of the planet, losing it to the colds of empty space rather slowly. This process continued for thousands of years, during which tectonic plates formed, mountains arose, plains and plateaus were formed too. Slowly, water formed, there was air and oxygen, oceans formed, and slowly, life evolved. Plants grew on the surface in bountifully. And there was beautiful life all around.

Slowly fauna also evolved, in a period of millions of years. Humans evolved, they lived, created cities, towns, buildings and all the things we have around us now. Millions of years passed, the planet kept on flourishing and progressing in science and technology. Their planet which was still cooling slowly owing to the loss of terrestrial heat and not being in the optimal hospitable zone of the Sun. But the increasing industrial revolutions and technologies, added significant greenhouse gases to the atmosphere of the planet to counteract the loss of heat and maintain the global temperatures for millions of years.

They too faced crises like us, loss of fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources, they shifted their technologies to become more renewable oriented. They changed their lifestyles to support the shift from fossil based energy to renewable source based energies. This resulted in something they did not worry about originally, significant lowering of global temperatures. Temperatures dropped and dropped like a clock warning them that they had to do something about it soon. With no left fossil fuels, there was no fast way to add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. It was a crisis like never expected. The complete opposite of ‘global warming’ as we have now. And there was no simple solution to it, time was running out, temperatures dropped like never before. Temperatures worldwide dropped from a comfortable 40 degrees to -10 in the temperate regions. The equatorial regions became densely populated with live-able temperatures of 10 degrees in summers to -20 in winters.

The trend was shocking and uncontrolled. The civilization was in chaos, in panic and there was no solution in sight.

This continued for over a thousand years, slowly and slowly the temperatures dropped further. The planet started losing atmosphere too. As there was ice all around and no water reached the atmosphere to come down as rain. The loss of water vapor in the atmosphere led to loss of density of the atmosphere, and further cooling of the planet.

The drought spell lasted forever. Generations passed without rains, there were people who had never seen rain in their life. From beach-y clothes to fur and eskimo clothes was the transition. Everything was white.

Mankind slowly started dying. The population of the whole planet started declining significantly owing to all hell breaking loose. There were food shortages everywhere, there wasn’t enough stuff left to burn for heat. Soon there were countable people left alive. The end of the world had come.

Over a span of thousands of years, after the mankind, the flora, fauna everything had died, the atmosphere had become so thin that it could not retain itself. It was soon lost. Nothing remained on the planet’s surface but emptiness. The mountains still stood like before, instead of lush and full of life, they were now barren and empty; just mounds of mud. Nothing remained, except the fossils and remains of a civilization which once existed there. One just like ours, not to be destroyed by any natural calamities, nor by asteroids, but rather by the freezing cold. Who would have ever thought that the fall of their civilization would come from the cooling of their planet?

After millions, if not billions of years, life would once again touch the surface of that ROCK, when Earthlings who evolved millions of years later, when the earth cooled sufficiently would visit the planet. Let us see what stories we discover beneath the red surface of the planet MARS.

PS:  Knowing that the extinction of their planet was certain, in order to ensure the continuance of life maybe they moved to earth and seeded life here, maybe we are descendants of “Martians”, maybe they still walk among us, waiting for us to mature when they would come forth and share their glorious history with us. Food for thought ‘eh?

 

Pirkano oka yan