As we keep searching.

Tu Kyun Aaj hai Chupa
Teri har aah se hah judaa yeh jahaan
Janu Na tu hai kaha
Chahu bas tujhe har jagah

From the moment we are born, we are like sailors sailing through the vast, endless ocean searching for meaning of life. From the ancient times, people have searched for answers. Answers for questions like ‘Are we the only civilisation on this planet?’ and ‘What lies beyond the horizon?’ and the quest for these questions lead us to such amazing discoveries. As humans, I think it’s in our nature to search for things that will bring us immense pleasure or satisfaction, answers to questions that never fails to haunt and amuse us, all at the same time.

As little toddlers, we used to search for familiar faces in the crowd and cried everytime we failed to find our mothers in a family function with gigantic people who were always laughing and warm. As we entered our teenage, we looked for ways in which we could be cool. We used to enjoy listening to Justin Beiber and dance to Venga Boys and Bailamos but for the world we had a different playlist comprising of huge names like “Michael Jackson”, “The Beatles”, even though we barely understood their lyrics at that point of our lives but ofcourse it made us “cool”.As twenty-something adults, we started our quest for happiness, as we realised we were deprived of it. Someone told us, ‘look for love, a partner. you’ll find happiness there’ and so we began the search. The next big adventure. Got into hasty relationships with the first person that came along because we were too scared that we’ll be left alone on Christmas eve. We managed to get our heart broken and somehow in the process of fixing it, we managed to damage it more. One fine summer night, while we were dealing with our sadness, we learnt how to make joints and then the search began for ‘good stuff’ that’ll get us high enough so that we can laugh off our sorrows and loneliness. Steven Wilson became our favourite artist. We switched from listening to ‘chale jaise hawain-main hoon na’ and one direction to post rock and metal. We started loving songs with dark meanings and those which had sadness bleeding out from every word over the happy, cheerful songs on materialistic aspects of life. All the while we were always searching for tranquility. College was a series of hangover morings, blurred days and blacked-out nights, unplanned trips, free concerts, cheap liqour, late-night uber rides from one end of the city to the other, tears and laughters, mistakes and regrets, drunk calls and not-so-sober conversations. We were just searching for a way back home, to a place where we could be safe, as the world felt a little too cold now and the glares were more spine-chilling than welcoming. Some of us got so lost that they gave up halfway through. A few days back, I heard another of my friends commit suicide, one of them got raped in her own bedroom. We were so scared and looked for ways in which we could come back home, in the safety of our mother’s arms, but we were already 1200kms away, in a city, where we were trying to built ourselves. We found comfort in strangers that turned into family, we barely had anything in common but that was the best part of it all. I learnt how to be bold enough to stand up for myself from my roommamte-turned-bestfriend. I taught her how to cook.

As college got over, our parents wanted us to look for a job. A well-if not high- paid job because in a middle class family, the girl should marry by 27 and every family wanted a well-paid, silent, well-behaved lady. Marriage, according to our parents is the ultimate goal that will give us happiness. Why are we always taught that you’ll find happiness in others rather than yourself?

Some might find happiness in a Harry Winston, for some it might be a hot cup of coffee under the winter sunlight in the Kalga Valley. For others still, it might be the little things like when the sky is their favourite shade of blue or when they get to see their favourite artist live. Happiness never had a definite definition.

I qouted the lines in the begining, from the song that has been my jam for a long time now. It’s the song that has the power to calm down even my worst storms. It’s the song that I play everytime I am happy. Everytime I am sad, this song is there, silently playng in the background, silently wishpering that everything will be alright. This was suggested to me three years ago, by a person who is no longer in my life but who had a major impact in my life. Somewhere I guess I listened to this song in the beginning because it was suggested to me by him. The songs exchanged out of excitement and childhood innocence is now the only memory I have of my first love, and now three years down, even if I can hardly remember the last time I talked to him, this song has been my strentgh all throughout. When I first saw this song being played live, infornt of me, a few months back in Hard Rock Cafe, for a moment, I felt like I had found all the happiness I could ask for. Along with goosebumps, I had tears running down my cheeks, as I was singing along Uddipan Da, in my not-so-melodious voice. I was surrounded by the people I loved and all of us were headbanging to the songs that lit up so many of our house parties, I had my favourite band, right in fornt of me, creating magic that bewitched us to a different level, happiness in it’s rawest form, atleast for me and at that moment, I couldn’t have asked for more. I had even video called my parents to show them the show and my mom, knowing how much i adored music was telling me to take her to their next concert and she was more excited because the frontman was an assamese.(Whateven?)

That night ended a little too soon. The last song that was playing was ‘Kalga’ and the impact that song had on us was incredible. I could see the entire crowd standing still and appreciating the beauty that was being created infornt of us. For a moment, I could see my first love smiling at me from afar. oh! How much I missed it. That gleeful smile, those sparkling eyes which was all in my memory because I saw him three years ago and Kalga has always been that song that dictated my story to me and one of the only times I can listen to it without breaking down is when I am completely sober. That night was one magical night giving me all the happiness that I could ask for. I too, afterall, spend my entire time searching for the things that will give me happiness and peace. Sometimes listening to ‘Lazarus-Porcupine tree’ does make me want to see if there really is peace in death and the way Death calls out to me to join him as the cold world closes in on me, scares and excites me a little too much.

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My First trip

“Dil mere tu hai ek banjara

Jaane naa tu kyun firta aawara”

 

Something about these line has been tugging at my heart since a long time. I was never much of a traveller, nor did I ever imagine myself to be going to new places, exploring the countryside, getting lost in new cities all alone and somehow enjoying every moment of it thoroughly. For someone who was born and brought up in a small town and strict parents, in that part of the country which the rest of india was not even aware of, I was never bold enough to even go to school on my own. The first time I came to  Delhi was nothing more than a family vacation, where we visited monuments, ate in a few known restaurants, was amazed by the huge malls and brands but it did give me an insight to how big the world is. I used to think that my world was just my hometown. It was like there is no escape from this place. This Delhi trip, six years ago, made me want to get settled here but to me, at that time it felt like a far-fetched dream. And, six years later, when I’m writing this, I can hardly believe that I am in Delhi, in my own house, drinking the strongest cup of espresso you can think of, and recollecting the memories of a first reckless and solo trip that I recently made.

Life sometimes does surprise you. Someone so rightly said, “When in doubt, just take the trip”. There was a time in my life when I had hit my low point and every little thing I did went wrong. The walls of my room were suffocating me. I couldn’t breathe. The warm August sun was so inviting throught the window and I was lying on my bed, remembering my childhood days, which I used to spend by climbing trees or sitting near the riverbank, looking at the river dolphins poking their head out of the water every now and then. Those days felt like a dream and a distant memory. Now , listening to one of my favourite tracks which had the line that I qouted at the top, I was wondering at  where did things go so wrong that I was in a position where I couldn’t even look at my own reflection without hating the person staring back.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I suddenly sat up, went to my flatmate’s room and sat down near her. I could see that she was tired as well. Randomly throwing jokes around, I asked her if she wanted to go out for a movie the next day. She said “Abeh, kobat durot jabo mon goise. Jot kunu muk sini napai, edin r krne holeu. ” (I want to go somewhere faraway where no one knows me. even if it is just for a day). Teasing her, I replied with a cheeky grin “Jaipur jao bol.”( let’s go to Jaipur). I could see the glitter in her eyes for a moment, before we laughed at how stupid that idea sounded. I retired to my room and tried to sleep. It was past 1o’clock in the morning  when she comes to room, sits next to me and says that she checked for tickets to Jaipur and the first bus leaves at 4am. For a moment, I hesitated and then I could hear a tiny voice inside my head, taunting me ‘you cannot be this irresponsible. You have a life. You cannot just go on a roadtrip. You need to plan. A proper plan, where to stay, how to get there. You need to follow the rules’. Somewhere that voice always kept me from doing anything I always wanted. The voice would be there, everytime I looked at the mirror, pointing out at how ugly my nose was. Comparing me to the perfect girls I would see online and then laughing at me. It was there when I would go up on stage, to deliver a speech, telling me how everyone was uninterested at what I had to say. Today it was challenging me at how unrealistic it was to go on a roadtrip in just three hours and how a timid person like me can never do something this bold. I sighed, turned over to change the song that was playing. Suddenly ‘Khudi-The Local Train’ starts playing and for the first time ever, I just said one line out loud to myself “Fuck it all” and jumped out of bed, took out my backpack,threw a few of my clothes in it. Packed a few essentials, ran to wake up my flatmate and in half an hour we were out of our house, headed towards Dhaula Kuan, where the buses leave at 4am. We didn’t think twice and by the time we got back to our senses and realized how reckless we were, we were already out of Delhi, on our way to Jaipur.

We didn’t have a clue where we were headed to. We didnot even know where we should get down at. We missed our Jaipur station and had to get off on the highway towards Udaipur, somewhere near Amer. We saw a few roadside hotels and got a room for ourselves. We took a map and started planning where we shoud go next. Amer Palace was the closest thing and we decided to go there after lunch. I had visited Jaipur once before, with my parents, the same time when I visited Delhi and never did I ever think that I’ll be back, that too this way. The palace was exactly the way remember it. I could see my younger self with my parents, posing for a photo near the ‘Sheesh Mahal’. I could see how happy I was back then. Suddenly I had a huge urge to scream. To let every frustated thought inside me out. To be as happy as I used to be. It was while laughing carelessly and walking through the corridors of one of India’s largest and most beautiful palaces, munching on the channa we got, pretending to be Jodha-bai did I realize that happiness was a choice. It is not given to us. We need to create it for ourselves. I couldn’t seat in my room, all day, with my curtains drawn and expect some ‘knight in shinning armour’ to come, break the walls and rescue me. I had to pick myself up and and be my own saviour. We clicked a lot of pictures that day. Pictures that are too embarrassing to share, boomerangs that made us looked tanned to the next level because in our haste we forgot we were headed to a desert.The August sun was a little too strong here and we regretted not thinking about this earlier. We returned to our hotel and slept peacefully for hours. For once, we forgot about our problems. We didn’t need any intoxicants to get a deep sleep. The next day, we were so energetic that we explored the entire city in one day. Exhausted but happy we sat in a cafe near Amer Palace, and that cafe was one of the best cafe I have ever been to. Being a rooftop cafe, you could see the entire city from there. You could see the entire Nahargarh fort, the Amer Palace, the Jaigarh Fort. The wind was the classic warm desert wind that tangles your hair and it smelt somewhat different. To me, it was the smell of freedom. The adrenaline rush that got me to take such a reckless decisions, the experiences, the people with whom we talked, the way our friends were telling us ‘how unsafe” it was for two girls to go to a place this far without proper planning, the way our parents had the least idea about the trip, the view from that cafe, the hotel manager who refused to give us a room because we looked underage, left a lasting impression on me. I was never into travelling till that trip. From the place where I was sitting, I could see the entire city of Jaipur and I realized how insignificant my problems were. How worthless my worries were. How big the world actually is.

For the first time, I felt like a bird. I let go of my fears. That voice was still there, but this time, it sounded weak. For once, I wasn’t listening to my conscience that kept telling me not to do this, not to do that. To take a step back because it was out of character to voice the things that kept eating me up on the inside. The walls I built around me to keep myself safe were still there but this time I realized that even if I could’nt break them,I could colour them the way I wanted to, a possibility that seemed too unrealistic when I used stay curled up inside my blanket. I wanted to draw a world map with the places I’ve visited, the places I want to go. I remember the people I met there. From the rickshawala who took us for a ride around the city, telling us about how he came to jaipur from a small village near Chambal and took up the job of a rickshawala there to support his family to the cigarrette seller who got too confused as to which cigarette we were demanding so we had go into the shop and get the one we wanted, to the bus conductor who kept the bus waiting for me, as I had gone to the washroom and somehow got lost while trying to find a way back to the busstop. It was one huge roller-coaster ride which brought me to a place from where I knew I could fly. It gave me hope. On the return journey, I played the song “Der lagi lekin-Zindagi na milegi dobara’ and I could relate to every word. I was not coming back with just a few souvenirs, I was coming back with a bag full of hope, energy and courage. This trip taught me a lot about life. It was definitely one of those turning points in my life that might be too insignificant for others but for me it was my life. And I so badly believe in the saying, which I qouted earlier that “When indoubt, just take the trip.”

jaipur