Time Turner

He looked forward impatiently, as one might look to the moment of a journey that one does not particularly wish to take. And like any traveler, he felt that there were many things he had to do before he left, yet he could not think what they were.

~ John Williams, Stoner


I am at home right now, courtesy Holi holidays (Holiday to be precise, clubbed with weekend). We are continuously chasing deadlines, trying to squeeze out few days in order to escape the loop. I have been home for Holi for the first time in last 5 years.


2014. Mumbai.

I had just entered the loop of the professional life and was still stuck in chasing targets. I was in Mumbai, with my cousins and Sam. I was walking from Pedder Road to Priyadarshini Park, taking in all the visuals that filled up the surroundings. This was the first time I was seeing how the city looked like in the festive season. There was a sharp contrast with “UP ki Holi” – No one attacked me with a barrage of color balloons. I could not see shirtless, silver faced humans, tripling on a bike, shouting out their ecstasy to the other members of the silver-face community. It was all quite civilized and I reached PDP safe and sound, although I did not wished for the same. I missed my city and this was one of the very few things of the Maximum city that did not appeal to me.


2015. North Goa.

We started from Mumbai at 3 in the morning. It was just past noon when we reached Arambol. There was a group of men who had stopped our car and were asking us to step out. We did not accede to their wish and were quite agitated at the delay. Before the tension rose, few locals urged the group the give us the way. Looking back at the incident I wonder why didn’t we step out. After all, it was in the festive spirit and I would have done the same if the roles were reversed. It was our ego that stopped us from joining them – What do these guys think of themselves to stop our car and delay us? Our reaction was not warranted. In the end, it turned out to be just another regular Goa trip – Holi didn’t make it any colorful for us. I missed my city this year as well.


2016. Tinchuley, Darjeeling.

My family flew from Lucknow while I joined them from Mumbai. A week long trip to Gangtok and Darjeeling. I was going through a transition in my life and was in a state of calm and trance at that time. I spent the day of colors cycling up and down the hills, around the beautiful hamlet of Tinchuley, visiting nearby villages. People made way for me, ensuring not to disturb the color combination of my attire. I found that people there were super courteous and they were not sure if imposing the festival on me would irk me. I did not join them and continued exploring. I ended the day sipping red wine with my father, while chatting with my family, about how pretty that place was. I was not missing my city. How could I? My city was right there with me.


2017. Grahan, Himachal

If there is a heaven, it would most definitely resemble Himachal Pradesh, my home away from home. We had trekked the previous day from Kasol to Grahan, while the tiny cotton flakes transformed the forest from green to white. It was mesmerizing and the trail is still imprinted in my mind, like it was only yesterday when we were witnessing the moonlights shining across the beautiful white valley. We were trekking down while the Sun melted the snow away, making our descent tricky, but no less beautiful. We reached Kasol to find loud music at our reception, streets full with drunk people trying to get more high. The peace of the village had slowly, but surely, turned into the hustle of the city. Kasol will never have the same charm for me. I think it’s only the memories that will make me visit Kasol again in the future. We escaped the noise and went to Manikaran. By the time it was approaching dawn, I was sitting in a warm cave, cherishing the tranquility of the place. I missed my city but did not dislike the alternative either.


2018. Home.

I am riding my friend’s bike, soaked with colors, enjoying the Sun as it is beating down rather benevolently. I see children standing in a formation on the terrace, at their home’s entrance, and at few strategic locations on the street. I have to keep my eyes wide open, in look out for the incoming attacks, to turn my face to protect my eyes. My spects are colored, my beard is tri-colored.¬†Silver faces are flashing across everywhere. I am one of those faces. I am glad to be where I truly belong. I am my city. My city is me.


The World is Stone

The bus ride from Monachil to Granada was marked by the panoramic view of the hills of Sierra Nevada. The colorful corners cut across the street which twisted and moved like a serpent. The homes, like little crayon boxes, were stacked one above the other, on the hilly terrain. It was like the white city of Nerja, just a little more colorful, and slightly less spicy.

The bus ride from Monachil to Granada is marked by corners like these, repeated until the destination.

I was caught in a state of trance looking at the map, trying to memorize the path to Calle Elvira from the bus stop. I was glad and anxious to go around without the GPS. The next bus to Monachil would leave in 2 hours and that is all the time I had to go to Calle Elvira, procure what I came for, and make my way back to the stop. When we got down at Granada, everyone else started moving towards Alhambra, while I crossed the bridge and continued forward to the Plaza.

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I almost forgot about you.
As I thought.
But I will not give up on you yet.
Let’s see if we can get along.

Nothing but the blue sky from now on.
But what about the storm?
The overcast skies. Clouds storming in.
An angry gargoyle staring at us.
Let’s see if we can find calm in the storm, once again.

I don’t understand quotes.
They seem nothing more than just a few wise words.
Just as I don’t understand rhymes.
I cannot relate to it at that level.
We are the exceptions, of course.

The minority does not decide the nature of the society.
But we have always been firm believers in destiny.
Nothing could have been better. Nothing would be worse.
The balance will always be restored.

A complex game of probabilities.
Permutations and combinations of everyday life.
From the choice of coffee to our beliefs and ideologies.
A maze without a hero. Or a villain.

I almost forgot about you.
As I thought.
I see you peeking from the shadows.
The quest for clarity. You thought you almost had it.
Do you? Let’s see. Let’s see if we can still get along.
I will not give up on you yet.

The Haze

Have you ever felt numb? I mean, the peaceful kind of numb? When you are glad that there is no thought running across your nerves. You feel and understand the things as they look. Take them for that face value and nothing else. Look around you and there is no particular direction you would rather go to, or not go to. Everything feels the same.

I stood right next to a broken bench. The blanket of rain and mist had taken over the place. The grass looked fresh as ever, the birds chirpy as ever. I looked at the lake, staring back at me from far away. I felt numb, looking at it, as everything in the surrounding settled down. I had just arrived at this place and I wanted to do nothing but to sit down and look.

I was lying in my tent. The rain had picked up in the last half an hour. It was getting cold. I peeked outside the tent if the lake has risen. But it was too hazy to see that far. This place reminded me of my village. How everything came alive when it rained. And also how everything became quiet. I laid on my back, closed my eyes, and decided to live in those memories for sometime. It started a chain reaction, and I kept on jumping from one memory to another, in an attempt to find something I had been missing. I remembered a few things, alright. But I also understood that there were so many gaps created along the way. I remember that one incident when I fractured my leg, and a few incidents in that timeline. I remember how getting into a new school everywhere was so tough. It is only the initial few days that I remember. It feels “fun” was not a part of my primary curriculum.

I opened my eyes. It was almost dark. The candle had almost burnt out and crickets and fireflies had took over the place. It was dark, yet the place shone with enthusiasm. I could hear a cuckoo singing somewhere in the distance. It sounded tired, but calm. I lit another candle, rolled another sunshine and went across yet another trip into my mind.

The tree and the bird

The birds had started making their way back home. I had sneaked into the fields. It was cooler there. I could see sunlight quickly receding towards the horizon. It was my favorite time of the day. Fresh from the afternoon sleep, I set for my destination. I had to come back before it was dark.

We had our summer vacations. And as a ritual, we were spending it at our Nani’s village. Most of my profound childhood memories are marked by this place. It was so beautiful and unpredictable. There were so many things that fascinated me. The fields beyond the mango farm¬†was one of those things. I liked walking on the ridges of the irrigation canals. They connected the entire farm. I looked at the sky. The hues were shifting with every passing moment. All the different shades of red. I rushed forward as I crossed the jackfruit trees. It was the end of the farm, faced by a mini jungle of Bamboo trees. They made all kind of noise when the wind blew hard. The constant shatter and struggle, and yet they survived together for years. There was a hill to be found if you went a little deeper in the trees. Everyone at home told us the stories of snakes infesting that hill and how it was completely forbidden to go the Bamboo trees. I promised myself to keep that adventure for another day, and made my way around the trees. I kept walking for 10 minutes when I finally reached the fields.

It was a vast plain. There were patches of green and brown, stretching all the way to the horizon. A railway track cut across far away. A serpent was sliding over it. We called it “Paanch Pachhis ki Gaadi” (train of 5:25). It was one of those elements that made this place I used to so look forward to. Marching forward the field, looking over the few farms that appeared and faded away, I walked with the train whistling in the background. I could see that Babool tree. The lonely tree that stood in the west. With the Sun setting in the background, I imagined the tree with the Halo. Can trees have Halo? Though I was rushing towards the tree, it was not the tree that I was most interested in. It was the Maina’s nest on that tree. A raw structure of brown pulp, devoid of any green, the tree protruded out of the ground like a huge thorn. A thorn that was home to someone. I found it so ironic when I first found the place. But I realized later what it really was.

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