Shelly, the tortoise heard a loud knock on his shell and peeped out cautiously.
It was Mr.Fox. He was agitated.
“What is with this race tomorrow – you taking on bunny rabbit? Don’t you know you will be humiliated? “ asked the Fox.
“It is alright, foxy, it is only a game;and all for a good cause. The money is going to the SPCA. Winning or losing does not matter. It is the participation that counts!” replied the wise tortoise. Anyone who had lived as long as he had to be wise and know what he was doing.
They had no idea that bunny was behind the bushes overhearing the conversation.
The next day, it was the tortoise that showed up at the finishing line first and the rabbit hobbled behind claiming to have fallen asleep mid way.
“Bravo” shouted everyone “Slow and steady wins the race!”
As Mr.Fox gave him a searching look, bunny winked at him and said “hush!”
Source: Aesop’s Fables
Retold: Usha Vaidyanathan
I have never been so obsessed with windows like these past few days – oh no, not the microsoft variety but the ones you have on buildings, the ones that let you see what goes on in the world outside the house apart from giving you the control to keep wind, light and rain out of the house. The steel frames of many of the windows in the house had got corroded and hence we are replacing them. They knocked them off in one go but took their own sweet time to fix them back (welder came but not the carpenter; carpenter came but so did the rain and so on….). So we have been exposed to dust and chill nightly wind and daily bright light as well as mosquitoes and a few rodents creeping through the grilles making the dog neurotic. The well settled rhythm of the house is temporarily suspended as everything is unplugged or rolled up or stored away and the house has the look of a house usually locked up and visited during holidays .You wipe the dust off the space you want to use and happily ignore the dust all around. You stop being conscious of being watched by the construction workers from the next site and oh, they love to look inside whenever they get some time ( of course, they do not mind you looking at their homes, do they?)

It is interesting to see how the shape, size and positioning of windows has changed over times. In my grandfather’s house, they were placed at such a height that an adult could look out of the windows but no one from the street could look into the house ( we kids climbed on the sill and stood their holding the grilles for hours and watched the happenings on the street) Now I recollect that in that house built before 1930, all the windows from the women’s area overlooked some other part of the house but none directly to the street! The main source of light and wind in the women’s area was the courtyard which was open to the sky. Women did not care too much about what went on outside their families. They did not need windows to the outside world. Perhaps that was the assumption.

Later too, in the houses in which I grew up, windows were placed appropriately for cross ventilation but girls were gently admonished if they stood near the windows looking out. There were all sorts of “bad things going on out there” from which one had to protect the girls.

Today things are different. These are golden times for windows - there are French windows that double up as doors and bay windows that have seating areas and then there are the louvres and so many fancy versions. They are not only functional but add to the aesthetics. Most office buildings with their centralized cooling systems have windows that allow only view and no air (tinted windows that allow one way view). Buildings make statements with their windows – the material used, the colours, the shape, the positioning.

No one to stop you from standing near the windows and observing the world – but there are no interesting things happening on the road – no monkey performing somersaults or jumping sticks (“ cross the sea to lanka Rama!!”) , no bangle seller, no painted man performing gymnastics, no mini carousels for kids – only speeding vehicles raising dust. No wonder Microsoft windows is more popular than the original one.