Drive vs. Flight

I listen to the sound of the plane passing above me. I look up. I am itching to get on it or for that matter any of the many planes that fly past. Alas, I have a busy schedule to follow. Yet it is tolerant enough to allow the construction of imaginary far-flung spaces I take up, along with my magical reading-writing duo.

As I soak the scene in, I realize that I am more concerned about seeing the different places where I ‘reach’. The journey vaporizes into the fabric of space-time.

I picked up Nicolas Bouvier’s ‘Way of the World’ courtesy of my trusted guide ‘Goodreads’. It stood out thanks to the narrator’s distinctive destination in Khyber Pass. The author narrates his journey from Geneva to Khyber Pass in a car along with his friend Thierry Vernet.

Our sense of drive is deluded by our basic perspective towards life. We undertake a journey to reach a place, undermining the journey’s very essence. What pleasure would it gain on reaching an uncharted route,a  journey undertaken only for the joy of travelling? This is something Nicolas Bouvier answers to in his book.

As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “The greatest affair is to move”. Journey which allows for the confluence of mind and sight is the precursor to vision. Only when I apply my mind and heart to the society’s problems I see before me, can I develop solutions. It is not surprising that many social entrepreneurs are people who possess the lust, not to travel, but to undertake the journey.

The stereotypical image of ‘driving’ is the difficulty of this process. Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors. I, too chip in, “Bumpy roads make the best explorer”. A sense of motion along with the accumulation of various sensory stimuli is the basic ingredient for concocting the untasted and untested. Hitting the road fulfils the pre-requisite to truly enjoying travelling. A journey, however short, if digested slowly has more to offer than the exotic destination alone.

The magnitude of enjoyment can never be fathomed. Yet I believe I have given convincing evidence to show that a 100km drive is better than a holiday to the destination (however utopian it might be) 1000km away.

Citation :

The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner

The pain and bliss of nostalgia

Spending your childhood in Mumbai has a charm of its own. Where people complained of traffic and rush, I was too young to understand any of it. For me, that was the only way of living.

Places changed, people changed, situations changed through my stay of nine years, but one thing which never changed for me were the monsoons of Mumbai. It is of the monsoons which I hold the fondest recollections.

Today, I stand on the balcony and watch the young Ronaldo’s in the rain. I look up to the clouds, which celebrate the happiness below with their applause of incessant rain. It is as if the majestic black clouds notice only the vast fields, sprinkled with merry children, turning a blind eye to the narrow alley of the slum, which fills like the bucket under a tap. I watch the raindrops under the orange light of the lamp-post- my personal rain gauge and anemometer. I mockingly advise the scampering walker-by huddling under the umbrella to enjoy the rain while I stand under the shed. “Oh! This is Delhi”, I think, “People here can never enjoy the rain as us Mumbaikars.”

The dark of the day, the smell of earth and the waving glistening leaves leave me at the gates of childhood. The yarn of childhood reminiscences then unfolds itself as I look through the windows of past. Playing football with my brother under the rain, taking a dip in the pond by the house, waiting for the school to flood and the announcement of a day’s holiday….I feel happy to have lived those moments. I feel fortunate to have been a part of nature’s bounty and beauty. Sitting by the window and watching memories unroll. The bliss of nostalgia.

The pain sets in as the rain dies down. The dismay at my inability to recreate those moments in reality. The dismay that life shall continue as it is. My refuge of memories cast away.

I am happy to surrender my emotions over to nature. Whom else can you? The surrender, devoid of anger and vengeance.  The surrender is a reminder of my place in the grand scheme of things. It sows the seeds of humility and gratitude. Humility, which I must subject myself to, shall allow me to behold the beauty of the natural around me.