Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Make New Friends

Sitting on wheelchair in his musical lab in Bagbazar, my friend Rajkumar Malakar, a classical guitar instructor, was explaining the horrific incidence of the recent earthquake that shook whole country. First computer and its accessories trembled followed by swinging movement of the building and he rushed down to the street. In open and spacious space, he found himself surrounded by people from all walks of life: businessmen, servicemen, police, armies, laborers, technicians, professionals, drivers and leaders.

With nervous excitement, they were sharing their own version of quake-experience. The atmosphere was filled with love, respect and caring among people that is very unlikely scenario for city dwellers. Rajkumar was able to make new friends on that day.

I also have my own account of experience of the particular day but after-shock-effect in my mind is more prominent. Every now and then, I feel like my house (three story concrete building) is shaking with quake and occasionally have nightmare about collapsing the building upon me. But, this effect suddenly vanishes when I am in small cottage in remote hill and I could feel comfortable and happy staying out there. I have found that most local people are much happier there though they are facing difficulties due to lack basic facilities of health, education, transport.

Happiness is tricky subject as it means different things to different people. Many believe that money and material gain bring happiness while others relate happiness with spiritual contentment, love, respect and trust. So it is all about the people's perception that links with expectations or desires and people easily become unhappy when their desires are not fulfilled.

There are many volunteers and social workers who are very happy to extend their helping hand to deserving people or communities. Their altruistic nature of work is much valued as it ramps up support for local development. And their level of happiness rises when it starts bearing fruits of their relelentless work.

Emile Durkheim, French founder of modern sociology, argued that disasters are good for societal happiness, because that give people a chance to capitalize on potential relationships (Behind the Smile/Newsweek). People in remote villages are living with social cooperation and cohesion to cope with the difficulties. This collective effort to support each other is important part of social structure in rural communities.

That explains the adversity can in some instances promote good feelings. But, do we need another disaster to promote good feelings? Let's hope not so. It is not too late to make new friends.

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