Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Friday, 05 March 2010



I spend a fair amount of time waiting for the next student in either buses, trains, metros and shopping centres. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I catch up with paperwork. Other times I prepare lessons or write. Sometimes I just sit and watch. Shopping Iguatemi is very upmarket, definitely not the kind of place ordinary mortals go shopping in. Most people having lunch here work in the nearby office blocks.

Blonde with glasses. She looks efficient. Taps her fingers on the table. Makes a call. Appearing efficient is important, even at lunch.

The nanny fidgets with the pacifier, watching the baby. She frequently glances over at the food queues. She's hoping her boss won't take long getting lunch. Or is she hoping she'll get to go home earlier tonight?

Reading quietly in the corner, her coffee at her elbow, she suddenly shifts to the edge of her seat. Propping her head up, she reads intently. She must be at an exciting part of her book.

Why do they line the eating area with mirrors? It's no fun watching yourself chew. It is helpful to adjust your clothes as you walk or self-consciously finger the necklace he gave you last night while you check that you look your best.

All business, she emphatically gestures as she makes a point. The conversation is probably a carry-over from the last meeting.

The baby is sleeping now. There are tears in nanny's eyes. What's wrong? The mother eventually comes back with her tot. Nanny is sent on one last food errand before she gets her lunch. She returns with a tray holding a tasty-looking pasta dish, which she shares with the tot. It looks good. The tot prefers nanny's food to mom's, which, I have to say, I can't blame her for. Mom's food looks strange. I'd go for the pasta dish too.

The two lovers cuddle, their food gone quite cold. I feel like an intruder into their world, even though they're sitting in a crowded eating mall.

The businessman in his pin-striped suit marches past, talking seriously into his cell phone. I think lunch, for him, is definitely eaten on the fly.

The smile of the clown

This is one clown that always smiles.

One of the quirks of São Paulo's public transport is the hawking of random cheap sweets, pens, stickers, etc. For a while, this stopped, as the law clamped down on the hawkers, but they've slowly trickled back.

The man I'm talking about isn't a hawker though. He's a clown and a happy one. I have never seen him without a smile. He was a regular on a different bus route I used to take. Tat and I spoke of him recently, wondering if he was still doing that job.

Today he got on my bus again. It was a pleasure to see his smile. He handed sweets to everyone then gave his speech. You see, he collects for a programme they have going for the children's cancer hospital. There's a group of clowns that goes around to these kids making them laugh. They're all volunteers and their only purpose is to put a smile on the faces of really sick kids. I can't begin to tell you how much I admire the work these people do.

hospital clown

Image and quote from Big Apple Circus' community page

“Ministering to sick children goes beyond medication and technology.  When a child begins to laugh it means he’s probably beginning to feel better.  I see the clowns as healers.” – Dr. John M. Driscoll Jr., former Chairman of the Pediatrics Department at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City

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