Travelling is a bug, a passion, a habit, an experience- that widens horizons, stirs curiosity, builds empathy, fills wonderment and brings home the idea of how varied, expansive and wonderful this world is. How miniscule my idea of life had shrunk into in the dogma of routine, I realize now. Life isn’t meant to be spent sitting on a desk. With us having advanced this far in making transportation quick, we owe it to mankind to take that flight every once in a while. So here’s a story of an impromptu journey I took last year.
It all began with a text to my friend- ‘ssup?’ (like all great things do).
‘we are planning to go to Panchmarhi tomorrow. You wanna come?’
‘Wow! enjoy. No you go I don’t know them.’ I’ll just sit here waiting for my slow death.
‘But that’s no problem. See it’s a 6 girls-only/solo- trip. It will be fun.’
And that was it. She had me at ‘fun’. I was in. Then there were “mummy ko manyenge” phone calls and finally Ammi Jaan was convinced because this friend of mine had special powers when it came to parents. Apparently the rest five households too had been convinced by the same angel. Parents believed her when she said stuff. So finally by 11p.m. it was decided that I was going to catch the 5 a.m. train the next morning and we were going till Pipariya by train then take a bus to Panchmarhi. I was very happy to have some excitement in my sedantry-life. And about the company, I was clear- It was just a three day trip and I knew my friend. So even if I got into a fight with the strangers(which I probably wont seeing how tolerant I am) that was okay beacuse I’d never see them again.
The trip though- was a huge success. Travelling alone for the first time, had to be. And the six of us when I look back did very well. We were pure awesomeness. From saving money like a pro to finding an acommadation amid all sold-outs, to being super-hot tourists, to finding our way in this big-bad world, to making room for each-other. We did everything in those three days that there was to do in Panchmarhi and when we’d exhausted that, we went to a nearby district with an amazing dam to take a dip, and the highlight was our open-Gypsy. From sipping hot chai under moon-light on a hill in the forest very far from our hotel, to climbing the rocks to sit under the fall where the pressure was maximum like a pro, to watching the best sunset of our lifetimes, to visiting all the caves and temples that the forests could offer, to feeling the wind standing in the gypsy whenever we could (nomatter how bad the road was), to experiencing hot spring bath and drinking the entire pond of sulphur-water because the locals said it was miraculous (oh precious!).
A trip to a nearby hillstation is all you need and some good enthusiastic company. And I have to say, our enthusiasm to make the most of where we were (because we couldn’t go to manali) was phenomenal. We justified our trip in every way we could. And I was right in thinking I’d never see them again but I came to acquaint with six amazing personalities who’ll be scaling great heights in near future I’m sure. But we’d always have ‘Panchmarhi’ to look back on. The bond of ‘Panchmarhi’ will always be there to bring us back to the days when we were photographers, coders, accountants cum maa, and her assistants, bomb-shells and dreamers. In those three days I believed more in myself than I ever did in my 18 years, some credits go to angel for making me feel precious and frankly I wasn’t really managing anything except gracing my presence but that’s better left unsaid. Travel does bring out the best in all of us (and then there are the spoil-sports). But we six were a pact of dream-tourists, a fellowship of sorts freeing the bugs of travel feeding in our hearts since long, and in the end we were richer all the more.
To be happy where I am, and not be constanltly lured by the greener grass out there, well that ain’t me. Maybe that comes with not trying at all, but even when I do try, I wish to try harder. There’s more, more, more- always MORE. The need to be more than I am, achieve more than I can, feel more, see more. But this is a bad thing and I’ve come to realize it now. It needs some insight to really understand the worth of what you have in hand, and it may take me a lifetime still to get there, but here I am now. Today those bunnies in the bush excite me much less.
Maybe shooting for the stars on a cloudy day isn’t the best idea and you’ve just gotta wait till it clears out. That constant tugging in the chest to break free, to get out of here, to be more has made me a dreamer instead, and not the visionary sorts that we generally associate with dreamers but the selfish kind, the kind that takes refuge in the most unlikely of futures. Seeking solace from the idea of doing things and not lifting a finger. Sure, you too must have faced those days. But to constantly keep dwelling in wishes just keeps mounting the heaps of desries. And it definitely isnt the mindset to have when getting around in this world.
If I can’t be happy with myself, how am I suppose to digest others lives without getting insecure in mine. To not be swayed by those who seem superior or pose to be. To not be blindsided by my weaknesses and utterly fail to recognize my worth. Because people are well, people. You can’t expect much from them. One day the world is by your side and the next moment you are your only audience. Sadly this burden of one’s weaknesses is ones own to carry and with years- to overcome or to make peace with.
Whether you live in the small-city, or the big one, with family or alone, in a relationship, or single, in the country or abroad, employed or jobless, in a financial crunch or not, whichever, take pride in it and strive to be happy in it. Convince yourself that there is no get away, you have to deal with it here and not in some parallel dimension where anything’s possible aka your head. Convince yourself that there is not a soul who could live this life better than you.
Definitely you could have done much better being somewhere else as some xyz’s lad but boy this is where you are. There is life much much worse, and never for a second feel that you’ll never get there. The hell-gates are open for all. So, never undermine the unpredictability of circumstances, bad times spare no one. Always remember if the tables ever turn then this is the place where magic will happen. If you are ever to become great then no matter how doomed you feel today, this is the place that will redeem you. Take pride in the little you have, because no man ever had enough, and no grass is greener.
Love is my muse
On days when I choose
To dream and get lost
From worries and painful sores,
the lonesome days and desolate ways.
yearning for love to enter,
as dramatic as ever, and take me
into a place of mystic and meander.
Where not a brood or a fret can pester
Hiding away from life itself
I dream of love- full of ardour,
time flies, the onset of coming doom
lightning falls, that’s my honeymoon
Lovers from an era, adding to the orchestra
The dream now an elaborate mess
Oh! What a lover should have? How could I miss
comforting hands and a warm embrace,
loving eyes and a passionate kiss,
true to the core, his intentions all sure.
Gatsby, Darcy, Romeo, Orpheus
all smiling fondly, dance around me.
But my lover- I still couldn’t see.
Hurricane of reality swirling onshore
reality I’d escaped, not anymore.
It’s vacuum cleans the mess from before. This world
where promises always get breached, never
a good time for getting hitched. Switch off
the lights. No-one’s up for keeps!
Alone I’d come, alone I’d go
A cat lady I’d die, frail and slow.
“Ab tumhare hawale Watan Sathiyo” and they left us their new born babe. The fight for freedom asked for the sacrifice of many lives. And those who survived had yet to watch the babe get divided and torn apart. The silent cries from the land, as it burried in itself the men who’d fought so bravely for it, echoed for years to come.
This had never been an easy fight. As men, we chose to walk the path of humaniy and to rise beyond human limitations. Unified by the goal of “self-governance”, fueled by the fire of patriotism- this country unified in a battle against the propesterous invaders. How had they ever let those hands touch their land was as nonsensical as their fight without weapons.
But their leaders knew- the power in disobidience, the power of passive agression, the power of self-control, the power of tolerance, it was a frustatingly long fight for some and they fought back the injustice. Ultimately it wasn’t the fights that gave us freedom but choosing not to. With poverty having penetrated every crack in this barren land it was impossible to unify Indians into a conventional army.
We needed an army fueled by the strength of soul, with determination in their minds, and an unflinching loyalty to their mother land. It was no ordinary struggle and we required an extra-ordinary leader to carry us through. Could we ever have achieved Independence without Mahathma Gandhi? Ofcourse not. And what did the people do? Simple. Assasinate him.
Freedom came as a country damaged for years was handed down, and what followed? they mutilated it further. But this time in a vicious, pitiless fight for a piece of their own. It’s been seventy years to our walk to freedom, and we are still walking. Debolition of caste system, sati system, child-marriage, untouchability, have been struggles against the greatest demons that haunted our nation.
But as we still walk towards “self-governance” fighting against the corrupt impostors, the past demons still haunt us. Those of poverty, malnutrition , illiteracy, inadequate public healthcare, opression. Life isn’t easy in the second most populous country with more mouths to feed than there are skilled hands to work. But if we look back to what the East India company and British Raj had made of us in their 150 years of exploitation, to what healing we’ve done in these 70 years, it isn’t that bad.
We have a past marred by community clashes, as we still learn to truly walk the path of tolerance. If you think now, India had somehow always been destined to attain freedom by non-violence and tolerance- to teach the generations it’s power and be a reminder of what this country stands for. India, a country with 22 official languages, and a total number of 1652 mother tongues, we embody the essence of unity in diversity.
The colour, the variety, the spark and the spices- all makes us pop in this world as the exotic land, as we paint the world Indian and this world celebrates International yoga day, we’ve made ourselves one hell of a name. With us becoming the CEOs of the biggest tech companies, and having launched our own Mars mission, it is now a good time to feel proud.
Home to the oldest civilization and yet a developing nation. We are a nation of contrasts and contradictions. Our female Godesses being fearless, fierce, bold and worshipped on the one hand and we, looking down upon such woman is one of the many. Woman are beaten, teased, taunted, raped and violated and it is well ofcourse their fault, but atleast violence against woman is an issue unlike the yesteryears.
As newer people come out of their closets we lag behind in coming to terms with their different orientations. The freedom to explore beyond boundaries, and having the choice to draw a line is the gift we enjoy in this 70th year of independence.
The moment you laid your eyes on this one person the world stopped, and from then on your mind has been circling back to him. It is hard to rationalize this irrationality. When you haven’t met or talked or even known each other that long. To have this enormous liking from a distance, there’s gotto be a basis to it. We as humans are no doubt attracted towards beauty and contrary to popular belief, we generally agree on who is and who is not physically attractive. But then, like flavors to ice creams, there are kinds of attractive. Some to your taste and some not.
The people you get attracted to instantly are constructed subconsciously in your mind over time. The first glance that bring thoughts of approval are grounded in familiarity. It reminds you of some past that strikes a chord of familiarity in some deep stored memory. “Basically what our brain does is we go around in our environment, picking up people’s faces and making the average out of these faces we see on a daily basis,” Dr. Kang Lee, psychologist at the University of Toronto. What you observe has to interest you in some way to become a memory and the faces that stick fall into a cateogry of likability, it may have started out as a quality you idolized or an achievement you admired in a person, or an actor who played a character you absolutely adored, and that grew into a fondness. You were unknowingly paying attention and the memory stuck. That liking further passes on to others with a link of resemblance.
Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips wrote in his treatise on the paradoxical psychology of how we fall in love- “You have dreamed them up before you met them; not out of nothing — nothing comes of nothing — but out of prior experience, both real and wished for.” Nothing comes of nothing. The likings you develop are tightly knit to the life you’ve lived and experiences you’ve had.
Think about it- your favorite heroes, characters, actors, relatives, friends, might be boiling down to you giving form to your future soulmate. So the latest crush you have, give it a thought- does he resemble someone? even faintly so. And don’t discard it as vague resemblance. You might be amazed to find a trend in the faces you find attractive.
And that’s how you rationalize being attracted to the cafeteria guy who your friend doesn’t quite appreciate.
Life isn’t about what you did or did not do, time will pass, you’ll fall, get up, be stuck over and over again repeat the same damn mistakes, until a point comes and you’ve finally learned. When you’ve grown, matured, become something better than you once were. Have hope because there are no downfalls. Now this might give you some relief but it isn’t true. You can fall so deep that the hollow in your heart echoes with past guilts. There is no end to it, it is a process that will go on and on till you forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself. But be incharge, be confident in what you do, in each and every action. It should have your 100%, no doubts lingering around because they can shatter enthusiasm like nothing else. Be beautiful. Be the best version of yourself, amaze yourself. Believe that you will grow. It isn’t apparent but it is happening, you are getting closer to death, to the end of your journey, with every breath, every second. One day you’ll sit and wonder- why it turned out the way it did. In the start you are eager to reach the end and when you are almost there, you regret having not payed attention. Each phase in your life is a beautiful phase. And the ones that make you cry are the best. The tougher you become, the more immune to life you get. All great men said- be in the present. It’ll saves you the regret. It may not seem but change is happening every second. Your cells are dying, regenerating, growing. Your heart’s getting older. It will beat only n many times. With each beat you are expending a piece of your time on this earth. You say life isn’t challenging you? well, you aren’t challenging yourself. No one can force you, make you, take control of you and do something for you. You decide your each action. You do what feels right, the action that resonates with your thoughts is what you do. Don’t try to pin your actions on someone, that is just deluding yourself. You are responsible for your life. Circumstances are just an excuse. All you make is from what you have and what you take. You brought nothing, you’ll take nothing. The point? you ask what is the point of all this, when you are to forget in death anyway. With everything you do, all those moments you went weak, gave slack, backed off or the times you rose, you survived, did what felt right. All of it defines you, makes you- you. Not this body with a name in this life, but you as a whole, the spirit transcending lives. The idea of life beyond this life feels so satisfying. To know that there’s still millions of journeys left to be made, and there’s still hope for overcomming those limitations that bind you today. You’llget there someday. One-day.
That witty repartee I’ll never have, and those jokes I’ll never crack,
The dance grooves I’ll never move, and the places we’ll never go to.
The guitar chords I’ll never play, and the bonfires we’ll never make.
That trek I’ll never take, and the cakes I’ll never bake.
Those hours I’ll never work, and the company I’ll never own.
That late night drunk dial I’ll never do, and those arms I’ll never run into.
That bike I’ll never ride, and the secrets we’ll never hide.
That bunk I’ll never sleep on, and those road trips I’ll never hop on,
that moon I’ll never gaze, and the dreams that never haze.
The pain I’ll never feel, and the heart that never heals.
The photos I never took, and the paintings I never made,
Those strangers I’ll never meet, and the things I’ll never seek.
That closet that I’ll never come through, and the craziness we’ll never get to.
What happiness is…. much possibly,
I’ll never have a clue.
When your throat dries and heart sinks,
head burns and eyes water;
Your life’s hollow, and you- with a vacant stare
all sleep in vain, can you repair?
When you’re tired from the start,
and drained from your heart.
Your life- a muddled mess,
and you’re the nonplussed cart wheel, in for the test.
When good reason leaves you to your fate
and hope sends its goodbyes in a crate.
Everybody else, shines in brilliance
as you flounder in silence,
with the switches.
Anxiety and indifference sit in shifts,
time keeps on darting, but you still miss.
Those times, those days…alas all gone,
Where can I find? find the new dawn.
When someone else’s tea, sets your butterflies free.
and you, have no dreams left to dream.
but to drown in the washing machine.
stains? what stains. There’ll be no pain.
When you’re stuck in the cobweb,
and the world ebbs away.
But you stay and say-
“I won’t give up” as you pray.
Frolicking on life’s trail I suddenly realized I had gone too far from living. The dense canopy here did not let in a single ray. Hope was the long-lost sun. Life took a whole new meaning from this side of the fence. Shadow-fighting in darkness all alone. Fear creeping up, swallowing my sanity. I had never been here before.
Changing winds of people swayed my mind along. From an emotional mess to a numb piece of brick, my moods were on a roller-coaster. Mastering the art of unpredictability, I was beyond recognition. And this wasn’t something happening to me, I had chosen this. I believed in each new obscure thought that presented itself -in the form of an esoteric inner knowledge- which might have perplexed me once.
Incapacitated by the uselessness of existence I couldn’t understand the point of going on. Living on like this was as useless as any sane voice -in my head or from outside.
Some still did believe in me, willing to counsel but refusing to reason -maybe in the fear of entering this state- anyhow there were still people who cared.
You might think it must be very satisfying to escape reality, responsibility, lock up and think in a corner all day, but trust me it gives no pleasure. Each thundering bout of depression crushes the soul deeper into the abyss of hopeless dependency. Your mind starts feeding on fear entering the state of bewilderment. People stop making sense. World stops making sense. You move in circles again and again coming at the same twisted conclusion that the world refutes. This is a very lonely place.
This burning from within will last for how long, I do not know. When will I get my answers, I do not know. Will this ever completely end, I do not know.
This overwhelming sadness will start to fade one day is all I can say. When hope shall return again. For how else are people standing back off from the cliff?