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.
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.
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.