A Magical World

About a week ago, I was lazing on a stone bench in the mid-afternoon, between Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor in Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, having just finished lunch, while the rest of the family was busy zapping aliens.
People were walking and strolling all around me, some fast, some slow, some with small kids, some with teenagers, many adults pushing prams, some fathers holding infants in their arms, other mothers holding backpacks and water bottles, some in no hurry, some checking the map for directions and others deciding which ride to get into next with their children.
The funny thing is that it did not seem to matter one bit what color or race the people were – white and black Americans, Brits, desi and non-desi Indians, Australians, Japanese, Arabs and other nationalities that I couldn’t even figure out – all of them were behaving in the same manner. We were all families with kids, out to have a good time, all the parents trying to do the best for their children, making sure that they all had enough to eat, protecting them with sunscreen and making sure that they were not getting dehydrated in the hot Floridian sun.
I was half-asleep, in a Rousseauish “floating happiness” kind of reverie, when through the Magic Kingdom cloud, I had some kind of an epiphanic moment, which I am not sure I am entirely able to explain with words.
Whether it was at the Animal Kingdom or Universal Studios or Blizzard Beach, every father or mother knew instinctively what the other parents were thinking of, especially when waiting in the lines for the rides. There could be a German family in front of us or perhaps someone from Korea behind, but the children were all the same; some fighting, some well behaved, some sipping Coke, some talking nine-to-a-dozen non-stop, the older ones looking bored and the younger ones full of excitement. If my kids started to misbehave, no one else really minded, because it could be their unpredictable kids who might start to act up, the next minute.
And once you are in the rides, it doesn’t matter what color you are when the car or cart you are in accelerates in a stomach-churning manner through space. The screams, the raised hands in the air and the scared looks on some of the faces…all look the same, irrespective of which part of the world you come from. And the word “awesome” mouthed by kids after each roller-coaster ride sounds the same, irrespective of the language.
And though a little dated for today’s day and age, it is this theme of a single, connected universe, that the tableau “it’s a small world” is all about, where costumed child puppets are dressed to represent a vast range of cultures, creeds and races, while the title song keeps playing repetitively throughout all the rooms, in a sappy and cheesy, but uplifting manner.
Sadly, once we all start making our way to the airport to take our flights back to the countries that we came from, and the Disney magic wears off, we all revert back to true form; with all our prejudices and dislikes and issues, pushing to the farthest parts of our minds the singular experience that we’ve had in Disney, where we all seemed to be part of a single, fun-loving organism without any distinction – in a way exemplifying the kind of utopian world portrayed in Star Trek – the one, single race of humankind.

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