Saturday, June 26

How to disappear completely

After 3 straight days of grey clouds and steady rain, the monsoon weather eased up on the Friday. As the day wore on, the sky became bluer, the whitish haze blushing with streaks of burnished gold.

Hurrying out of the building at 6:30 pm, he happened to look up into the horizon. It had been a long day of a long week spent hunched over the laptop. For a change, he was leaving the office before sunset. For Mumbai, this evening had unusually delightful weather; the humidity could be ignored, the cooling breeze was actually steady rather than teasing in wisps and everywhere, he could sense a gently uplifting buzz. It was a day to be getting out of office early, meeting up with friends, savouring a meal with a beer on the side, perhaps. An evening meant to be wrapped in laughter and bonhomie.

No matter how strong the craving, he would be partaking of none of these. Enough people would want to grab a drink; he didn't feel like meeting them. He could not face the prospect of another weekend spent dozing, watching tv and meeting cheerless relatives. Not after the work-week he'd had.

Once again, he was at the Dadar Asiad station, waiting for the bus to Pune. Going home... the words were meant to taste a lot better when he mouthed them. The idea of it was supposed to bring comfort instantly. For the longest time, it had done all of that. Only recently however, the taste was starting to sour. The feeling was steadily turning hollow.

Going home was supposed to energise, not enervate.

Somewhere out there, he imagined, friends were meeting, laughing and sharing a meal.
Hunched over, he stepped into the bus. For home.

Song for the moment: Karma Police - Radiohead

Sunday, June 13

The seeker

A stubborn head-cold has been dissipating the energy out of me. In the throes of the resultant exhaustion, I find it difficult to concentrate on any one activity, be it sleep which I sorely require or reading, which I can only accomplish in fits and bursts. Even writing a post feels laboured, much like my breathing. Ideas appear in fits and starts. Just when I think I can put together a decent piece, the words stop flowing and I am left to consider the usefulness of ellipses.

This peculiar half-alert, half-drowsy state is accentuated by the weather, which is moodily grey. I wish it would make up its mind and either rain or allow for sunshine, but nature's vagaries are her own. After many years, I am re-reading what I think is the best travel book ever written - 'From Heaven Lake' by Vikram Seth. He commands English so expertly, it feels more like a series of vivid photographs rather than mere alphabets linked together. A book that requires complete immersion for absolute appreciation, a sense of deja vu confirms my feelings many years ago; the book is essentially brilliant poetry in prose form.

Reading this book, or for that matter, any book on travel, is a double-edged experience for me. I get to make voyages vicariously, all the while resenting the fact that this is the only way I seem to be making journeys. Because I don't like to travel alone, I find it quite incredible that the authors can and do, often it seems, effortlessly. I could cite numerous other hackneyed obstacles in my way, but something he once told me always quietens the excuses. The jist of it was that opportunities abound; it is up to us to take them. Seeing the truth in that message is tinged with panic because time is flying by and I feel oddly stilted. About everything.

I want to say it is the weather. I want to say it is the head-cold. Believing any of it is another matter.

Song for the moment: I want to go back - Eddie Money