Life lesson in the hills

Life lesson in the hills - student project

Livin' la vida loca...that's a song that brought up some lovely memories. In my teen years, I was an avid listener of Ricky Martin's songs...his voice was soulful & sexy, and playing a tape of his songs would make me experience a myriad emotions. 

     I remember a family trip to a hill-station called Yercaud in the south of India, the year I turned and I, my maternal uncle's family, and some distant cousins went during school break in September 1999. It was refreshing to breathe in cool, clean air and enjoy the sight of the gentle mist outlining the majestic mountains. Hot chocolate and happy smiles around bonfires, watching the fire-flies flit about in the distance, smelling the invigorating scent of eucalyptus & pine...those moments were magical. There were a group of 9th grade kids on a school trip staying at the same resort we were in. They had organized a gala night with music and an open dance floor, almost right outside our cottage. One of the cousins who came on this trip was a sweet 22 year old boy called Arun with muscular dystrophy. He was a sprightly child until the age of 6, when they noticed he started to limp. He had trouble walking and was wheelchair-bound since his early teens, until he passed in 2005. His physical disability did not deter him from his passion of exploring new places, museums, palaces and where there was no ramp access, my uncle used to carry him up the stairs. 

            We all sat around watching the school kids let their hair down. Livin' la vida loca came on and was one of the few songs I enjoyed and knew the lyrics to, and lip-synced along with full gusto. I was tall & gawky, extremely self-conscious of my weird haircut and changing body. I used to walk with a hunch and was pretty inept when it came to social skills or talking to strangers. I loved dancing, but only in the safety of my bedroom..! When this song came on, I saw some of the girls really move to the beats and wished I could join them. I turned to the side and noticed Arun anna* really moving his head and shoulders to the music and smile, closing his eyes and enjoying the music. It struck me like a bolt of was a human-being who so badly wanted to move his body and dance along, but physically could not. I was fully capable of getting myself on to the stage and dancing to my heart's content, but instead let insecurity about how I looked, my ordinary clothes, thoughts of what people would think etcetera hold me back. It was an embarrassing feeling... that I could be so superficial. Needless to say, now when I see a dance floor, I'm on it! 

Seeing my physically challenged cousin want to get on the dance floor really put things into perspective for me. We have so much to be grateful for, yet all we do is feel inferior, compare ourselves to others all the time, and stay in our comfort zone. We need to put ourselves out there, and live life to the fullest!  Vive la vida, without too much loca! 



*anna-  pronounced uhn.naa- elder brother in Tamil