Saturday, 16 April 2016

M is for Meraki

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a word I'd never seen before. Its definition was attached to it. I saved it and made a poster. Ever since then, I've become a fan of this little Greek word. It holds so much simplicity in it that if I use it as my gauge to measure all that I do everyday, I'd be in bliss.
Photo clicked at Angkor Wat in December 2013
Maybe this is what Vidya Suri calls mindfulness. 

'Laborare est Orare' (to work is to pray or work is worship) was our school motto. At home, my mother was a true believer of 'your work shows the real you.' Hard work pays off. Yes. But, how about making that work a labour of love?  Do we still call it work? Or does is then transcend into a higher realm and become a prayer? 

Gardening, writing, cooking a meal for my family are things I love. I pour myself into these tasks. I may get up with painful knees after hours of gardening or a flat bum, after hours of sitting at my desk, but the buzz that resonates inside is better than any glass of wine or G&T I've had --ever! 

I saw a living example of Meraki in action last week. I wish I'd taken a picture, perhaps we don't need it. This lady, in her late seventies (guessing), was managing the toilet door in a restaurant near Mattias Church in Buda. Snow white mop of hair sat on top of a kind face with twinkling hazel eyes. She was taking the 100 HUFs needed to go in. It was freezing outside. The crowd of people who wanted to use the loo was substantial. She wore a blue dress and was bent slightly as people do when they get old and the body becomes less agile. She would accept your coin, turn around to drop the coin in a little metal tray, turn back around to give you a full blown smile (it went all the way to her eyes) and let you in. She did this slowly and gracefully.

When people came out of the cubicles, she bid each and everyone goodbye in a voice that said: I care and I love what I do. 

In fact, when I joined my daughter and her friend who were waiting for me by the main door of the restaurant, I couldn't stop talking about this lovely lady by the loo doors. I wish I'd thanked her for showing me Meraki that morning.

I'm sure you've come across people who look so happy in what they are doing that it rubs on you. 

An old lady in a blue dress with kind eyes showed me that operating a loo door could bring her so much happiness that it spilled out of her and touched us all.

"And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

And what is it to work with love?

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

Work is love made visible."
says Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet.

I didn't know Gibran's words when I became a mother for the first time. The never ending nappy changes, the night time feeds and the colic were followed by packing lunches, fixing breakfast, running to get us all on time to school, dealing with marking piles of books, head lice issues, homework, school trips. Oh! the list was endless. 

It's easy for me to say this now, when the children have grown up, to Meraki through your day. Back then, I would've rolled my eyes at you if you'd suggested that I leave a piece of me in all that I do. "There will be nothing left of me!" this over-tired, over-worked mother of two would've screeched in protest.

But then I look back and I see two heads huddled around me when I read them stories. Or hear their squeals when dandelions and daisies and moss turned into magic potion they concocted in the garden and the potion turned out perfectly slimy, just like they had predicted it would. Or feel the rough bark of the trees they climbed while we (husband and I) stood under the boughs with arms spread wide to grab them if they fell, I realize that Meraki had crept in despite the exhaustion.

Yes, work is love made visible

Last year, I had the privilege of meeting two artists whose art is full of Meraki. When you see their art, you can feel the love. If you have time, meet Dithi and Kalpana.

Wishing you all a Meraki-ulous day:)


  1. Awesome world of expression and learning are your blogs. Simple, so you reach many and take them along. Looking forward to many more journeys.....

  2. I learned a new word today! I shared meraki with my kids, they all dig it.

    1. Thanks Shelly. So happy to hear that. It's a cool word (I'm using my kids lingo:).

  3. After reading your articles I have to scratch my head to spill the perfect words as a comment. Your flawless writting is absolutely beautiful. Meraki has been saved and will be shared to lighten many more souls, thank you for such wonderful posts!

    1. Thank you Pinkz:) You've threaded so many kind words and made a fragrant garland out of them. I feel humbled and elated that you think so. And words from the heart don't need to pass any tests- they're always perfect. x

  4. Hey, thanks for introducing us to Meraki! I wonder if any of the Indian languages has a word like that.

    1. Interesting thought Ruchita. Maybe there are. I can't think of one in Hindi or Punjabi, what about Gujarati?

  5. Hey, thanks for introducing us to Meraki! I wonder if any of the Indian languages has a word like that.

  6. We all could do with some Meraki magic a day! Thanks for introducing us to a new word!

  7. Meraki reminds me of being told often as a child that it was important to " put all your best efforts into whatever it is that you do - even if you grow up to be a sweeper be the best sweeper there ever was ..."
    Perhaps that could now be tweaked into becoming the best/nicest 'Loo doorkeeper' maybe?

    1. Yes, it could easily be tweaked to be the best doorkeeper:) She had such grace and positive energy about her that it was impossible not to feel happy in her presence.


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