Finding Happiness in Boston
I often associate a particular place with a memory of some other place,usually another part of the world,a kind of reminiscence which gives the pleasure of being in two places at the same time.
Walking down New berry Street in Boston, I imagined I was in London.There were the chic boutiques,young couples with happy strides— a twenty something feeling when you own nothing but there is a fullness within,and holding a hand is like holding the world.There was sunshine but he air was cold and carried the aromas of steak houses and kebab places.There was the same festive atmosphere of the pubs one finds in London when the sun is going down.
At the foot steps of the Church at the end of the street,lay a man perhaps in his fifties,along with his Alsatian dog.It was difficult to ascribe the embrace to the dog or to the man but they lay beside each other with their upper limbs crossed,oblivious to the sights and sounds of New berry Street.The man’s overcoat was as shaggy as the dog’s,having braced many Northern winters.Occasionally the dog would open his eyes to lick the psoriatic elbows of his master.I walked gingerly towards them and dropped a few coins into the hat.The dog acknowledged by opening one eye,the man continued to snore blissfully.
I settled into the crisp bedsheets of the hotel which overlooked the park.The Victorian street lamps had a yellowish glow which sent rays of light in geometric patterns into the cold night.I could not fall asleep in my luxurious surroundings and couldn’t help thinking where the man and his dog slept.
I woke up at at 6a.m. and decided to take a walk in the park.There was no traffic at this time except for the odd bakery van.To my surprise there were quite a few people in the park.There was a group of elderly Oriental women doing slow ballet like movements of Tao Che near the pond. Of course there were the usual joggers with their earphones and pedometers tied to their arms unaware of the chattering of the sparrows in the bushes.
Lo and behold there was the man from New berry street feeding the ducks and smoking a cigarette.His faithful dog seemed to enjoying the second hand smoke too.
“Beautiful morning.” I said.
“Yup.” He replied without taking out the cigarette from his mouth,as he threw bits of bagel to the ducks.His sweatshirt was truly a sweatshirt with most rancid of human smells which seemed to hang on the lazy morning breeze.I stood there watching him feed the ducks with serenity and inner satisfaction.I wanted to talk to him.
“I saw you by the church steps yesterday.Do you collect enough money to feed yourself and the dog?”
“Oh yes.There are some good days and some lean days.But we are never hungry.”
He explained to me that even the homeless have a network of their own and know exactly where there are free meals in town.On Sundays the Catholic church always has food after the service.On Tuesdays the Hindu temples have Indian food.On Wednesdays and Thursdays he manages to get Oriental meals at the Buddhist temples of Boston.
“But what about dog?” I asked.
“Oh I work in the kennels on weekends and they give me dog food”
“I don’t want to sound too personal,but do you believe in God?”
“Nop!But I do love all them religions of the world and the people who believe in them.”
He continued to feed the ducks at his own pace.His red stubbly face glowed in the rising sun.I summoned up some more courage and asked him:
“Are you happy?”
“As happy as I can be.I have all the time in the world.”
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