MIDWAY: Infectious smile

Recently, on board a flight from Delhi, the all-smiles, green-eyed Aishwarya Rai stared up at me from the airline’s glossy in-flight magazine. Fat chance that I’ll ever meet her, I thought. Miles away, this Miss World was in her own world. But her photo gave me a reason to smile

as if she were right in front of me. I smiled back at the beauty queen.

That’s the power of smile, a lingua franca understood by one and all, even by the new-born babies. That’s why they smile even at the strangers. A natural gift that we are all born with. And a gift that most of us gradually part with in the process of growing up. So much so that there are times when we find it hard to smile even at family members, let alone friends, foes and foreigners. Ironically, in the pursuit of nirvana, we have lost our most precious source of happiness: a smile.

What we smile about depends upon people and places. People, as we tend to break into a big smile whenever we come across someone close; places, as we are disposed to smile in some settings but not in others. It’s practically impossible to be constantly in situations that suit our mood. But we can think of people and places miles away and smile fondly at our recollection. Isn’t it amazing that, no matter how far, thoughts of a loved one always

make you grin?

Even trivial incidents of a remote past can be a source of mirth. I remember a school friend going for a toss after stepping on a banana peel while playing kabaddi. I can barely suppress my laughter when I recall that incident. Smile I do, but discreetly, lest anyone should hear me snigger: Why are you smiling alone? Gone gaga, eh?

In cities like Kathmandu, the sight of people slipping on muddy roads produces pity instead of laughter. This goes to show how only particular people and settings can tickle our funny bones. While some people acting out a farce might not evoke any laughter, just imagining others, no matter how far they are, instantly produces that bewitching smile.

Hence it’s not the distance that counts but how fondly we can bring to mind a particular event. These events, when evoked with a touch of nostalgia, might make us happier still. Distance is no barrier to making someone smile, then.