Leisure Time

My husband’s Cloud Computing Conferences brings me to India. While there is internet in every hotel room and I can work wherever I go, today in Chennai, I choose to spend the morning hours by myself and “unplugged.” We used to call this sort of activity leisure time.

The sound of the phrase wakes in me a memory of a long gone sensation of deeply felt relaxation. Pronouncing the words aloud causes my limbs to remember what it felt like to rest on the softness of a bed of juicy grass while sinking deeply in the arms of the embracing sunlight. This sensation from an earlier age is quite different from the continuous urgency to be efficient and productive that has is now how I usually spend my time.

From the window of my room on the 6th floor of the Leela Hotel in Chennai I look down on the deserted pool area. The Pool lies north of the Hotel and it is November in India. The sun spreads its morning rays over the rippled surface of the dark blue water; and there is quite a bit of wind. If I want to go to the pool, I best go now.

I pick my seat from the many empty lounge-chairs are arranged around the pool. The temperature is the total opposite of how I experience the air-conditioning inside the Hotels- and in all the buildings we have visited so far which dry one out like a leaf of basil in the freezer making you feel brittle and old.

Outside by the pool this morning is like being back in the womb: a moist embracing breeze engulfs my body and reminds me of the ideal tenderness I have been longing for my whole life.

This is a chance for some moments of feeling ultimate well-being … I struggle, rationalize that I really have much to do, but then manage to decide not to miss out. My email to do’s will have to wait – isn’t there an order in things anyway so I might as well yield. What needs to happen will – what is not meant to happen won’t – so I choose this moment to trust the process.

I decide to sit here until the sun will disappear behind the building at 11.30 am.

Occasionally, the clouds in the blue sky cover up the golden beams of the sun on my arm as I write in my notebook. The feel of the breeze on my skin is one of the ways that helps me get back in touch with who I am. It helps me sense my body. It helps me to sense my Self.

Images of copper plates and bowls pass through my mind. Earthy tones of Sahara-yellow and henna-orange sari’s and dupartta’s are floating in the wind over the trimmed green grass of the Hotel’s court yard. Friendly smiles everywhere are ready to serve the hotel patrons.

I like this country. How would it be to have people around me so ready to serve me back in my own country? How would it be if I were to be one of them serving others? Questions and observations float in and out of my awareness, as if moved by the breeze and as such quite fitting in this moment and this exotic backdrop.

Here in India, it is about dropping everything – your agenda – your schedule – your plan – to just soak up life as it presents itself. It is so opposite to what we have been imbibed with in the Western culture: hang in there- persist – don’t give up – achieve!

It is too late in the year now to smell the flowers. The dark-blue glittering ripples on the surface of the pool reflect how the wind that has become stronger. The parasol next to me squeaks. I hear the treetops “wrissle” (my made up word that best describes the sound I hear). These sounds make me instantly travel back in time to Holland, where I was born and lived the greater part of my life. I am transported back to the fresh meadows and windy beaches of my native country… to the songs about the winter wind and presents for the children sung on the fifth of December: Saint Nicholas has come from Spain, and in spite of the wind he comes to bring candy for all the children that have been good…

The rumble of the big fans of the hotel air-conditioners partly muffle the distant noises of traffic going on far away. Like a flock of busy mosquitos the honking horns of the auto-rickshaws   – are a friendly remind for each driver of each other’s presence: “Hey, it’s good to know that you are behind me.” The luxury cars sound lazier and more laid back but don’t want to be left out in this game.

Who would have thought that often life is about emptying your plate – getting out of your own way – and witnessing life as it takes place?

The pool boy unrolls and rerolls the slightly untidy towels that lie unused on the pool chairs– it isn’t the season but the poolside looks good anyway. There is care in how he resets each towel, chair by chair. He does this with a zen–like attitude as if there is a correlation between the quality of execution of this task and the fate of the world. Hey, I can create something beautiful while just sitting here, I discover with joy. I can take notes for a blog… And so I do.



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