‘Fire in the Belly’…..we don’t need Pyromaniacs for that!!!!


14 March 2016

I didn’t know relevance of the word “perspicuity” till I actually saw it in play a while back. Weekends are meant for relaxing – in whatever form one can think of. Sleep till late in the morning, late breakfast / an early lunch, siesta, reading, couch potato and catching up with friends (ahem, on the phone). It is definitely not meant for one to wake up at 9am and participate in a fire drill in your condominium. The temptation to escape it was high. I have been through innumerable drills of sort, which includes fires of the literal and figurative varieties at work. Now, did I really want to participate in one at home over the weekend? A cup of tea, the morning newspaper, and the comic strips in vision, I had settled down on my couch with the definitive view of staying perched atop it till late noon. And it was at that very moment, I heard shrill siren blare followed by a loud banging on my door. The next thing I knew, I was walking down the stairs with the entire neighborhood towards the safe area!!!! This is NOT what I wanted to do.

The roll call taken, we all moved towards the atrium for a briefing on what needs to be done IF and when there is a fire. Arrrrr, I have heard this a zillion times and there we go again! So, I put on a smile (more like a grimace), took a back seat (figuratively) and with rapt attention inwardly focused on my evening plans. And from what I could see, there were quite of few of the adult residents busy on their cellphone. We belonged to the category of ‘been there, done that’!!! We, and not our cellphones, were in the silent mode!

There comes a moment in one’s life when you fathom rather sub-consciously of a change in your environment. You then begin to consciously respond to it with miniscule efforts. I have often referred to it as the ‘magical moments of change’ – a moment that so encapsulates your being, that you begin to slowly interact with the shift. And it is this interaction and the outcome of the interaction that I term as experience.

The entire drill was being conducted for the benefit of all occupants of the condos; however, the maximum participation was from the children. What is a fire? What can bring about a fire? What are the consequences of a small / big fire? What can we do to prevent it? How can we take care of people who have burns? Multiple questions and all responses (dare I say, very professional responses) / decisions on how to act, coming from the children. They were listening with rapt attention and were thrilled at the fact that they could respond to these questions in the presence of a large audience – their peer group, parents, parents of their friends, et al. They were passionately and meaningfully engaged with the experts and in the entire drill per se. This active participation made ‘acting the part’ for the adults that much more difficult. They had to be IN THE GAME in true earnestness. Any act of falsehood could easily have been detected by this group of perspicacious angel faces. Inconsistency, is almost immediately detected by children. Slowly, I could see the ‘been there and done that’ group (including me) switch off their cellphones, and slowly gravitate towards the talk. There was encouragement, applause, and pride being expressed – sentiments that customarily do not accompany a fire drill. Our cellphones on silent, we were partaking of this very heuristic learning.

Their awareness of what causes fire and true to life and reality responses was a blow to my otherwise adult brain that so constantly filters out the most obvious. The battalion had played its part of being my teacher, trainer and coach.

On weekdays, I am busy at work 12-14hrs. Many a time, am dealing with ‘situations / fires’ that sometimes are triggered by a bunch of emblematic pyromaniacs. Trying to douse it is tough. One needs to ensure that he/ she doesn’t get burned. And in the over-zealous attempt to avoid getting singed, the participation and engagement levels drop. The focus is more on self-preservation than on the experience itself. The learning is always on how to improvise on your protective gear rather than to prevent the next fire; which in turn, gives birth to the “been there, done that” facade. The children were telling me to “Be There and Do That”; irrespective of how many times - the secret code of bringing home my magical moment of change. I am not sure if I am ready for the next fire; albeit, I had to deal with one, I would like to definitely want to douse it with a difference!