Hiking in the Rain

We had an unexpected company as soon as we started our hike. The clouds which were forming up since last few hours had decided to let go, as the rains came down to greet us while we moved up the trail. It was not raining very heavily, nor was it too light to be discounted. Kind of perfect setting for a short hike early in the morning.

The streams on the way were also happy to see this new visitor. They cut across our path, singing happily and dancing down the forest. We could see few blue patches in the sky, but the clouds predominantly filled the canvas. They were not too solid, like the ones you see at times – huge boulders of black, throwing tantrums as they sluggishly moved forward. Nor were they too light – like a puff of smoke, at the risk of being blown away at the first sign of an intoxicated breeze. They were like a small hut made of mud, sitting happily in the fields, content to see things as they are.

And to talk about the trees. They were all chirpy and waving handsomely. There were more shades of green across the valley than I could name. The entire setup looked like Nature has maxed up on Saturation. It was a symphony of colors, playing right in front of our eyes. We moved away from the trail and started climbing up the path of a waterfall. Small jet of streams passing by served as a warning – Do not stay on this path for too long, as it was not made for you. We heeded to it, and switched to the human trail shortly.

We were looking down at the trail we came from. The path of the waterfall and the trail cris-crossed all the way to the bottom. It was difficult to make out one from other. And even though, while ascending, we were very sure of which was which, it all seemed to have blurred away into a single entity. They were different, yet they were the same. So were the streams. And the trees and clouds. And us.

The web of memories

A good memory is like a gush of fresh air which feels smooth and pleasant against your skin, completely engulfs you in a blanket of thoughts and you find yourself smiling at the very touch of it.

But when a bad memory visits you, it doesn’t do that alone. It brings with it all the interconnected memories that creep up your mind and pull you down. You keep trying to escape from this quicksand, but the more you move, the more you inch towards drowning.

What is it about bad memories that make them so powerful? I had been thinking a lot about this. Opening my arms and mind to all the memories that visit me – Experiencing them, studying them. Can we cut emotions out of these visits? Can I invoke my emotions when a happy memory visit, while behaving like a spectator sitting in a farm house, watching cars running across the newly built highway, when it’s turn for a bad memory.

When I say ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s all about perspective. A memory which could have been haunting you some time back, suddenly transforms into something good, which you embrace whole-heartedly. Thereby meaning that a memory in itself is not good or bad. It is just a reminiscence of a time gone by, child of random circumstances. It is not real. A ghost from the past which has settled in your subconscious and refuses to budge. It is how we decide to face these memories, when they momentarily jump to your conscious, that makes them good or bad.

I am just thinking out loud here. There are times when we ourselves fish a particular memory out of our subconscious. Like a drug addict, all we want is one more hit. But the memory you retrieve doesn’t visit you alone. Fragments of other related events make their way out and this just spirals out of control. A cycle that never stops.

Saying that, I also do not believe that closing this door will help. Memories (both good and bad) do help you, guide you and can be a faithful companion by your side. All the blunders that you did, faith that failed you, hope that was brutally murdered (by yourself). These are not supposed to be thrown away. But kept very close to your heart. While pleasant memory is like a visit to a park full of butterflies (something which needs to be experienced and shelved), cruel memory is like that car which gets you to that park (something which you always need to keep by your side).

This approach might not work for everyone. For each, his own. I am not sure if there is some science behind it. Some framework which tells us how to deal with it and turn it into a tool. Until you come across one, you should work towards building a framework of your own. It won’t be perfect. But neither is life. Or your memories. Good or Bad.

Lights

I see red and green – traffic lights, slightly blurry in the late twilight.

I see people swishing by, leaving traces of their existence, on the flooded pavements.

I hear different sounds, embedded in the rapid footsteps, the hushed voices, and my thoughts.

Slowly, silence drapes over me like a thick cloak, as all sounds fade away.

And then, I see yellow lights and purple smoke. I am finally home.

Lucknow

The first thing I noticed post leaving the airport was the sign “Towards Metro Station”. Amidst cab drivers trying to catch your attention, the sign was a breath of fresh air. I moved towards it, negating all the efforts made my cab drivers to convince me that the new Metro is not worth it and the technological growth is only for our demise.

The station was clean as a whistle. The ticketing completely automated. And the word “rush” non-existent – Advantage of having Metro in a non-Metro. Metro saved me few bucks and more importantly, a lot of time. I de-boarded at IT College [Isabella Thoburn and not Info Tech], and came across a new branch of Dastarkhwaan near my home. Good vibes already 😀

If you are an alien to your State and visit your home only on a bi-annual subscription, you would connect with what I have to say. In my earlier trips, the entire auto journey that lasted from station to home was marked by a basket of sweet and bitter memories.

Bara Imambara – Lucknow

The Gun market near Charbag always made me wonder who buys these guns. I have never seen any civilian with a gun in Lucknow. We fire bullets with our tongue and that too starting with “Aap”. Sikander Bag, the coaching Mecca of Lucknow. 2 years of cycling from Aliganj to Hazratganj is bound to leave a permanent mark in your memory. So does the trips to CCD [which, in hindsight, might cost you few marks :P] Smriti Vatika, with statue of Nehru and Gandhi, and Gomti flowing under the bridge. Gol Market, which used to host discounted sale every Wednesday. The list goes on and on.

Now, with metro making in roads, all these chapters will be skipped. May be this was what cab driver was talking about. Quite visionary. Is this the way things are supposed to be? Make way for new, while trying to hold on to as much of old as possible. I guess I got to learn from this – See how things shape out.

Lucknow is my rehab. My spiritual retreat. My temple. Whenever I am stressed out and none of my techniques seem to work, I always have Lucknow as my last resort. Memories, like Hermione’s time turner, has a magical healing effect. I am not saying that all memories are happy memories. The bitter memories, too, have their use. They have helped me much more than happy memories, in finding closure.

My city is voting tomorrow. I am here to join my people in this festival of democracy. Someday, the journey that I am on is going to bring me back here. I look forward to that day.

This is my mental detox week. For me, this week is just about reminding myself the things that I already know. The things that, at times, get lost in the hustle and bustle of city. At other times, you intentionally block them out for a larger purpose. Either way, you lose the grip. It is so difficult to attain a calm state of mind. And so easy to lose it.

I am looking forward to get back on that life frequency that I have been seeking of late.

The Storm

He thought the storm had settled down,
And normalcy restored.
Only to discover that turbulence is permanent,
And essential, to some extent.

The lightning struck on an important day.
The day that used to be important.
But not anymore. The day has lost its meaning.
Like so many things around.
It has become a farce.
A fancy painting in a mirage.

The canvas laughed at him.
At his helplessness.
And he kept looking at the illusion.
The storm that was now brewing in the painting.
A storm that he thought had settled down.