Sometimes, you find yourself drifting through a big bunch of uncontrollable situations, all piled up together, and you find yourself wondering if there’s supposed to be a moment when you just combust in a glorious burst of epiphany and solve your shit. Yup, I've been reading Dave Besseling’s ‘The Liquid Refuses to Ignite’ and my traipse around the country seems to be reflecting every glorious word he’s penned. I've been indulging in another of my middle-class attempts at identifying that oh-so-elusive ‘Purpose in Life’ and this book has been partner & companion fueling my imagination with every wistful thought or pretense of being any nearer to identifying Purpose.
I've borrowed heavily from Besseling’s concepts here, because he speaks of incidents & experiences like I might have and I justify it with a friend’s[i] words – ‘we have all the answers within us, sometimes we just need to hear other people say it.’ Am currently parked in a now-unfamiliar room in my parents’ house, in an increasingly un-familiar city, Calcutta. I've been toying with what I want to do next, acutely aware of the ‘signs’ that it’s time to move on, unsure of how exactly to go about it. A long-pending vacation had just been approved, and my restless feet were itching to get going. I broke my bank-account, paid off a few long-standing debts (knowing full well am going to be at my parents’ place for one glorious week) and took off. The plan was to make my way to Calcutta via Mumbai & Pune.
This is not one of those extreme travel situations where I back-packed & hitch-hiked my way through. I played it safe & traveled conventionally - I can almost hear Dave B tutting at my middle-classness! However, this trip did involve a LOT of stupid questions to myself in moments of solitude. Sitting on the pavement waiting for Sid & the others to land up for a film in a multiplex – “Does this moment on the pavement signify something” or “Do these bars blocking my view of the sun mean am blocking out the light in my life”….umm…nope….I was too lazy to haul ass across somewhere else!
During my dash across Maharashtra, I dawned upon a few great ‘truths’ though. All the friends I met, even the ones who recently got displaced from my daily wafting-through-existence, are versions of who they used to be when we last met. Each of them has metamorphosed into these ‘people’ who have retained freakish characteristics of their former selves layered by the weird wrinkles only everyday living can give you. They’ve retained traces of the same old idiocies I found incredibly amusing when we first met and their endearing ability to have never, ever, failed to entertain me. So the film connoisseur succumbed to my guarantee of the Bengali fine-dining experience, my old trip-mate argued himself breathless of the finer aspects of extremism of any form – religious or political, the guy who used to guide me gave me a few valuable nuggets of advice, my little brother fought & made up with me on an hourly basis (*sigh* just like old times!), my ‘safety-blanket’ was, as always, available for any panicky calls, any hand-clutching paranoia, and the giggle-girls, well, giggled with me as we exchanged glorious tales of how we’ve all been trying to find some meaning in our existence… In short, nothing’s really changed…the people have become older with experiences and the cities have metamorphosed into ugly metropolises, with meaningless structures over-shadowing the skylines. More barriers, more fences, more cement, more roads, more restaurants, more beer, more advertorials, more stupidity, more urban…just more & more & more people trying to eke out meanings for their existences I guess.
Traveling through these cities was supposed to have a deeper purpose than just seeing old friends and basking in the luxury of familiarity. I also wanted to get a sense of whether these cities would accept me. Unfortunately, I found Mumbai to be as hostile & alien an environment as always. The mad dash-bustle that every task entails is simply exhausting, and the placidity of Goa has not helped my already laid-back approach to life. Pune fared relatively better, & I did have my standard ‘oh-shit-i-donno-where-i-am’ moments often enough to realize I miss the city much more than I knew. Yes, the city is spilling over onto once lush hillsides like some Christmas tree vomited all over – haphazard, scattered, and glittering harsh lights, the highways curving around the hillsides, giving travelers a sneek-peak into the abhorrent yet alluring city life beyond the tar-road. Cold coffee ke khoj mein nikla toh mila some foam in a paper-cup with a dash of coffee flavoured powder. And the ugly face of reality when you realize that you’re stuck in the “but he’s your best friend yaar” kinda Karan Johar old-style senti-drama hindi film. Only that you don’t get your who-ever-it-is-you-wanted at the end of many songs & dances.
One of the few things I did figure out on this trip is that life has interesting ways of fucking over plans. No matter how well you plan, if there are chances, things WILL go wrong. And since these are my plans we’re talking about here – umm…but OBVIOUSLY they’ll go haywire! However, I guess my hedonism allows me to take on these last minutes changes with supreme & blind belief in the ever-resplendent & almighty Karma and sail through with chooch-fuelled confidence.
So here I am today, spending my days lying around on a bed borrowed from PP, reading & writing, and spending my evenings listening to Queen, which Mom cranks up occasionally, as if to drown me with the fact that individuals live through the same daily dilemmas that you & I do, and will continue to do so for ages to come. Like my friend explained very wryly this evening – “most of the time, our egos are battling the world, reacting to life, trying to make our ways through different experiences, always on the move, always on self preservation mode. It’s only when we’re stoned, that the haze of reality lifts the clouds from our minds, & we tap into our consciousness & just BE.”
I’ll be moving on from the lush comforts of being at home in about a week. Back to work. Back to reality. Back to figuring out where the bloody hell am headed. But henceforth, for all of you who keep fucking with my head, I need to peace out, move away from everyone, everything, switch off, disconnect, move on. It’s time for me to run again. This time... I’m heading off with my hedonism & you just don’t figure in it anymore...
[i] This friend is one of those mysterious geniuses you trip over in life sometimes. I randomly discovered this fellow via work. It initially took a lot of effort & curiosity to wangle out reactions from this guy – he usually responded to multiple questions with multiple eye-brow waggles, mostly hidden under fringes of hair. However, after much probing, the boy opened up to us, and realized he’s quite a mine of morbidly fascinating stories & ideas. Mark my words, he will one day smash your world with cinematic storm. It’s brewing. I know it.