Daddy Diaries 5

The purpose of joy

Joy can be found in the widest expanses of nature and smallest of rooms, in the grandest of gestures and simplest of pleasures. This Parsi New Year, remember to choose joy always.

“Do you know what makes me really happy?” my seven-year-old daughter asked me one day as we were sitting on the bed chatting about random stuff. “Candy!” I replied instantly. “No,” she said, adding equally quickly, “I love candy, but there is something else that makes me really happy.” She wanted me to guess further. “French fries?” I decided to go down the list of items she yearns for, not realizing I was way off track. “It’s not a food item,” she gave me a clue. “It’s something I like doing,” she steered me. “Playing with Lego?” I dove down the activity route. “I love Lego, you’re right,” she affirmed like a school principal, “but I’m looking for another answer,” she waited with anticipation.



“Hide and seek?”


“Playing on the iPad?”

“No… oh, one sec,” she course corrected. “I love the iPad, but I use it mostly to get ideas for arts and crafts. That’s not the answer I’m looking for,” she started rolling her eyes a little, probably realizing how little her father knows her.

“What do I do every day?” she gave me a hint. “Go to school,” I said matter-of-factly, “and I know you love going to school,” I added, because she’s the only child in my awareness who expresses a desire to go to school even when she’s unwell. “But that’s a mundane thing to make you really happy,” I cautioned, “that I would be really disappointed if that was going to be your answer after so much drama!” “No, no,” she insisted. “So you like coming back from school in the bus and playing with all your friends?” I gave it one final shot. But it wasn’t to be.

“See, dadda,” she enthusiastically gesticulated, ready to reveal the source of her inner joy. “When I come back from school, I put my bag down and sit on the couch. Sometimes, when it rains in school, water goes into my shoes and my socks become sticky and my feet are moist. And I keep curling my toes in my socks to dry my feet because we’re not allowed to remove our shoes in school,” she demonstrated. “So,” she continued, with a prolonged emphasis on the ‘o’ after the ‘s’, “when I come home, I sit under the fan and remove my dampy shoes, and then my soggy socks, and open my toes wide to let the air enter my feet,” she said with a big grin on her face, her eyes half-closed as she re-lived that moment. “It’s the best sensation in the world! It makes me so happy to feel the air go in and out of my toes as I wiggle them,” she said with profound excitement, peering into the gaps between her tiny stubby toes. This child was all heart. “The more we live by our intellect,” Tolstoy noted, “the less we understand the meaning of life.” I was struck with bewilderment that my daughter had expressed such a simple yet intricate gesture of joy.

The conversation made me immediately recall my days as a neurosurgery resident where I worked 18–20 hours every day wearing cramped trousers. Don’t ask why, but working in comfortable scrubs became fashionable in India only after COVID; until then, we wore formal pants to work all day. I routinely and laboriously used to return to my 100 sq. ft hostel room after midnight. I still pleasingly reminisce about sitting on the bed to remove my pants and get into a pair of breezy boxers for the 4 hours of sleep that we barely survived on. For me, that daily singular moment of freedom gave me the most amount of inner joy, a bliss that is vividly ingrained in my hippocampus. I also remember being deeply scarred on occasion by the phone call I used to get to go back to work moments after being refreshed by those airy boxers. Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility.”

Nature, I believe is the greatest provider of joy. To make the most of the delightful weather, a bunch of us took our kids for a monsoon hike to Garbett Plateau, which was at a 2-hour drive to its base village, Diksal, close to Matheran. Ten children aged 7-17 with an equal number of childlike adults packed ourselves into cars at 6 AM, leaving behind the greyness of Mumbai only to be quickly ensconced by its verdant outskirts. After a streetside breakfast of samosas, vada pao, and chai, we began our ascent. We walked the perimeter of a placid lake that had dunes of malachite erupting from it. We waded through tiny streams that became huge waterfalls in the distance. “We’ll have to remove our shoes,” my daughter said, as we contemplated the knee-deep river we needed to cross. “Let them get wet,” I urged, and we held hands balancing ourselves precariously over the bedrock against the swift stream that toppled a few of us completely over.

I was wonderstruck at how relentless the little kids were in climbing the steep slopes amidst frequent bursts of cold pouring rain, which they licked off their lips to quench their thirst. The adults meandered in front and behind them. After a 3-hour gruelling climb, we surfaced on the vast expanse of the chromatic plateau, where an ethereal combination of steamy Maggi and spicy makai butta greeted us. We gorged on it to warm our insides as frosty clouds kept bursting above us.

After an hour’s relaxation, we sauntered our way down, some of us covering long distances simply by slipping down them on our bums, causing the rest of us to smile. “Pain is the rent we pay for being human,” notes Richard Rohr, “but suffering is usually optional.” With aching bodies, bruised buttocks, and soaking shoes, we returned to the base village. The locals were kind enough to allow us to dry up and change in their homes before we got into our cars to head home.

My daughter and I sat on a bench. Removed our shoes. Pulled off our socks. Spread our toes wide and allowed for the wind to blow air into the gaps of our toes. We felt the water evaporate off our feet with big smiles on our faces and even bigger ones in our hearts.

This is what gave us joy. What brings you joy? This New Year, if you can figure out the simple things that make you really happy, it will be a year to look forward to, a year worth living. No matter what, look for the joy. Choose joy always.

18 Comments on “Daddy Diaries 5
  • Dr Anjali Kulkarni says:

    Wonderful expression of positive psychology..

  • Dr Ram Dama says:

    Good enjoyment with kids.. worth reading u r a really story writer thank you sir for sharing

  • Sunita masani says:

    Children never cease to delight and amaze !

  • Dr. Arun Rao says:

    Very well written. We enjoy little things we experience in our lives. Nice to see a very joyful group. Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year.

  • Bruce Blewett says:

    Excellent article – it is amazing how the simple things in life give us so much pleasure like going on a cycle and seeing all the beauty around you that you don’t normally see 😀😀

  • T George Koshy says:

    Happy new year Mazda

  • Thando Wale says:

    Woooooow. Good read. Words of inspiration between father and daughter. Priceless moments indeed. Got to love life!

  • Nawaz Vijayakumar says:

    Happy New Year to you and your family Dr Mazda Turel

  • Nawaz Vijayakumar says:

    Happy New Year to you and your family. Keep the stories coming.

  • Teko Fulele says:

    How inspiring! True that sometimes we overlook at those small things or experiences in our lives that gives us the inner joy. I will attest to this story as a source of inspiration this year to look back at the simple things that really made me happy and make this year & the coming years worth living. Thank u Dr Mazda for making my day & cheering me up!

  • Dr. Sukhmeet K Kalsi, Consultant Family Physician, Professional Certified Life coach from ICF says:

    👏 Amazing write up as usual,Dr. Mazda. Your writing skills make the reader get such an Experiential feel as if gone through it as a first hand experience.
    These little experiemces of joy are blissful as you rightly called it . These should be anchored always in our heart and mind to recall it as a resource on the days we are low on motivation and energy and these take us again to the best state of mind. So definitely These experiences are a treasure.

    I say this since I have been using these as a resource for my clients as Neurolinguistic programming Master trainer.

    Thanks for sharing

  • Samantha says:

    Just love the way your article takes my mind to imagination and the way you love your daughter..
    A soothing article sir. Tq


    Dr Mazda, it is better to think with our heart then our head like a child which gives you joyous moment of our life.

  • Sushma Sowraj says:

    Wow, your story radiates pure joy! Your eloquent account of finding joy in the everyday is truly inspiring. From your daughter’s infectious enthusiasm to your own recollections, your words evoke a sense of gratitude for life’s little pleasures. Thank you for the heartwarming reminder to seek joy in simplicity. Here’s to a year filled with boundless joy and unforgettable experiences!

  • Setu Ram says:

    From the mouth of babes! Dry feet, hot cuppa tea, lifelong friends..
    Your musings are refreshingly down to earth Dr M

  • Manohar Chavan (Friend of Zarine Pastakiya,) says:

    It’s so beautiful dialog between father n Little Princess of Dr. Mazda. Really gives n shared significance of Joy in life…

  • Tasneem khorakiwala says:

    Heartwarming story

  • Rita singh says:

    Dear doctor, how simple the kids r finding happiness in little things of life. We grown ups may spend a lot of money time and energy yet there is never full happiness. These kids could teach us real lessons in life. Thanks for sharing this little episode of your family.


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