Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Ordinary Moments

One ordinary evening in August, almost four years ago, I stood in the middle of the gym floor glaring at the treadmill. Tiny rivulets of sweat were dribbling down my body and seeping through my old t-shirt. I had only just got in. The forty steps I took from my front door to reach the club house in our compound had sapped me of my energy. I was angry. Upset at the unfairness of being imprisoned indoors by this crazy, suffocating heat of fifty degrees Celsius, I punched hard at the start button and started my warm up. My heart was not in it. The anger was bubbling up inside and making me stomp on the rubber belt. I stopped.

Looking for a distraction, I brought the speed of the machine down so that I could jump off. I did. And went to the corner where all the old books are kept. Doha is a transient place. People come and go. When they leave, this corner of the compound club house gets a new supply of books and magazines; stuff people don't want to carry back with them. Spanish, French, English, Dutch and Arabic books and magazines pile up haphazardly on a rickety book case.

It was the colour of the cover that caught my eye. It was a shade of my favourite, turquoise. I tugged at it and pulled the spine out and read the title. The blurb promised a good read.

Three days later, when I turned the last page, I was tempted to start all over. But, the laundry pile was growing higher and we'd eaten eggs and toast for two dinners in a row. It was time to step out of the happy fog I'd buried myself in and face the real world.

The book was:

Reading this book changed the way I looked at my days. It almost felt like all the ordinary around me had gotten a make-over! There was so much magic happening around me and I'd never even noticed, like:
  • the shapes on my bed the sun draws with his rays when I pull the curtains back every morning. The sky is always blue here (or at least for eleven out of twelve months).
  • or
  • the neighbour's cat curled up in the big garden pot by our entrance door; the cool soil keeping his ginger fur from getting too hot and his furry red tail twitching to its own beat. 
  • etc. etc. you get the idea, right?
Everyday ordinary things that went unnoticed and unappreciated because I was too busy complaining about the heat, or making plans to escape, or longing for the outdoors, started to look different. This beautiful memoir showed me how rich my ordinary was.

'the gift on an ordinary day' sits on my bedside table. I still can't figure out how anyone could've parted with this gem. Their loss--my gain, I guess.

Last April, I wrote To Katrina Kenison to thank her. If I'd asked her permission, I would've shared her reply here. But, I didn't plan this post ahead of time, so I didn't. All I can say is that she wrote a beautiful reply and added this at the end: 

"We are all just walking each other home." ~ Ram Dass
I'm taking the liberty to quote William Martin (I discovered him via Katrina's book, too) here. 

He writes in The Parent's Tao Te Ching:
Make the Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.

Show them how to cry
when pets and people die

Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

I became that child and showed myself the way. How could I show this beauty to my children if I wasn't able to see it myself? I was getting a bit lost in the glitter of expat life, you see. Designer bags and size zero waists were eroding my confidence. That was four years ago. That was before Katrina's words blasted the ordinary into my life and turned it sunny side up. 
I can never tire of thanking her for writing this book,
 the person who left their copy for me to find on that rickety old bookshelf in the corner of the club house.


  1. Great post Arti! You really have a way with words. :D

  2. Beautiful! Sounds like a marvelous, life-changing read, and very true. Ordinary moments are sometimes the best moments :) Thank you!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary

    1. They sure are and thank you for stopping by.

  3. A great read, Arti! Will definitely miss the daily instalment of exciting reading post-April. Thank you for sharing.

  4. A great read, Arti! Will definitely miss the daily instalment of exciting reading post-April. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Ha! Ha! are you sure about that Ruchita? Thanks for reading:) xx

  5. So true Arti, something I tell myself and my son everyday. Its when we revel in ordinary very day things in our lives is when are truly happy

    1. You said it Apu. And if that everyday happens while climbing a mountain, even better:)

  6. Beautiful sentiments. I may need to get a copy of the book for myself.

    #AtoZChallenge P is for Patti

    1. Thanks for stopping by Mary. Katrina Kenison's words are like balm-- soothing and uplifting. Check out her blog to get a sample.

  7. Ordinary moments! ordinary days! ordinary lives! Ordinary people! Some of my most memorable moments in life are of ordinary people living an ordinary day with an extraordinary smile...

    1. I know what you mean Ish. And you've managed to capture those ordinary moments in some of your blog posts for us to enjoy, too:)

  8. Soothing read. guiding to a more positive life. I agree that we miss an awesome today in the Rat race of professional competition. I am definitely going to read the book. Please Promise to keep writing the blogs even after the April challenge ....

    1. If I make that promise Manu, we will have to find a Gurudwara to eat langar at and there aren't any in Doha. So, for the sake of keeping the family fed, I'll say this: THANK you for your love and support and I will try my best. hugs. xx

  9. Ordinary is an hugely underrated and overused word. Remember the expression "the best things in life come free?" Pure joy emenates almost always from the most unexpected, unplanned random acts of thoughtfulness and kindness.To quote Abe Lincoln, "God loves the ordinary man, hence why he made so many of them!". Treasure each day, and each thing as you encounter it .... enough said for today! .... Fat Radio Man, aka Raj

    1. Thanks Raj. I like what Abe said. Cheers for sharing:)

  10. Amazing Arti.. truly loved it! Definately want to read this book ��

  11. Amazing Arti.. truly loved it! Definately want to read this book ��

  12. Wow I would really like to read this book. Rarely a book has the power to change perspective so effectively. Glad you found it.

    1. This book changed mine Rajlakshmi. What can I say! I feel grateful and humbled:) Thank you for stopping by.

  13. All I have to say,
    I am happy you were angry the other day and went to that gym and you got bored and found this book...
    I am happy to have found zeena in one such ordinary day waving bye to our little kids(then) early 6ish in the morning...
    Iam happy in one such cozy ordinary home parties, Zee introduced us..
    Iam happy we found some common ordinary interests like aroma of filter coffee, lemon grass, fragrance of flowers...calmness of doha waters, reflections of the boats, Doha morning sunrises,dance,music,paintings,love for sarees ...& many such ordinary things!
    An extra ordinary journey starts with one ordinary step!
    Thank you dear friend.


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