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It was a fun Saturday — the afternoon of our much-awaited family day out spent at the cinema. The husband and Sid munched on popcorn trying hard to encipher the storyline while Little Princess and I played a game of catch. Since the only occupants inside the plush darkened interiors were just another couple, I presume I did not miss much and the distraction was a welcome treat to the bored couple.

Luckily, the movie was the husband’s choice so he took it upon himself to enlighten us on its positive aspects, as we made our way out through the rows of unoccupied seats, that the crowd filing out of every other cinema had not been able to comprehend. The positivity came in handy for post lunch at a restaurant that promised an authentic Delhi cuisine but served us limp bread, bland curry and rubbery kebabs — we were still a happy family.

Just to ensure a better end to our family day out, I suggested visiting a friend’s home so that their children and ours can be left to their own devices (read wreak havoc) while we parents can enjoy a good conversation over steaming cups of tea, turning a deaf ear to their fights and complaints after the initial excitement of their meeting had dissipated.

We reached our destination and even found a parking spot without much ado. While the husband parked, I punched in the number plate and zone details on the phone to make a virtual payment for the parking.

Zone entry — Check.

Message confirmation receipt — Check.

We were good to go for a full hour.

At the friend’s place, I ensured that the phone sat beside me so that I would not miss out on the reminder SMS that it was nearing the end of the hour to make an extension on the ticket.

It is not in my nature to boast, but I try to ensure that any job I undertake is done to the best of my ability. Or so I thought until we caught sight of a parking ticket slapped on the windscreen of our car at the end of the two-hour enjoyable visit to our dear friend’s home.

We checked the message and the confirmation, each of us arriving at different conclusions on the cause of this error. A closer scrutiny of the numbers revealed that there sure was an error — only that the error was on my part. The last digit of the car’s number plate typed in was incorrect.

As we weaved our way back through the traffic, I stared ahead annoyed at my oversight. The husband was quick to follow the tendrils of my thoughts and explain, tongue-in-cheek, that we all are bound to make mistakes. My oversight had hurt our pocket, but his sneer on catching me in this precarious position (that was usually his) was not lost on me. It was my turn to eat humble pie.

When the real world is robbed of inspiration, we can always plunge into the virtual world that is in overabundance with sun-dappled flowers, happy toddlers and sunsets along with cheery inspirational thoughts that come free with ‘Good Morning’ messages. Freezing smartphones and running out of phone memory have not deterred Indians from bonding with their friends and family groups with cheery ‘Good Morning’ messages that are fired off nineteen to the dozen, driving WhatsApp to near exhaustion and leaving Google researchers at Silicon Valley baffled.

Being an inactive member in many family and friends’ groups, it only took a single click to be hit by a sea of cheery messages and waves of inspiration for my not-so-happy mind to assimilate. But as my eyes strayed through them, one message from a friend caught my attention. She explained that for every negative thought, we just need to look around us and think of five positive ones for this is a simple and sure formula to uplift your mood.

To start with, I look up at the husband who is still beaming at his ‘we all make mistakes’ remark — but at least he was still smiling. And happy. I think of the wonderful evening spent in the company of friends just as an ambulance drives past us with its blaring lights. I involuntarily send in a silent prayer to its occupant who I hope will reach the hospital on time and make a quick recovery. I look around me and see my family tired and happy after an enjoyable day and feel the first warmth of gratefulness fill my insides.

This was also a reminder that UAE’s efficient police force, traffic wardens, municipality workers, medics were some of the many others who worked through weekends, ensuring that the city was safe and well-maintained for its residents and visitors.

There was so much to be thankful for.

While I made a mental note to take heed of my oversight and take care to avoid another fine in the future, I use my new-found inspiration to ensure a happy end to our day out.

I wonder if the researchers at Silicon Valley too had used inspiration from the sea of cheery Good Morning messages to come up with the Files Go application that comes with a special feature capable of weeding out all the ‘good-morning messages’ and has cleared up more than 1 gigabyte of data per user on an average.

Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai.