It is all in place. Life seems set to take the course it always was supposed to. You look back at the journey which had so much promise and it hits you in the face that a course correction won’t help anyone now. You took the most obvious route and suddenly you reach a dead end and find a whole bunch of travellers standing there looking at you, lost and confused. Then you begin to wonder if futility was the only reality in this journey. But then at the same time, when I know it is all set and destined to go one way I just want to break free for one last time.
Just walk out these gates and get onto the first bus or train pulling out of the station and land up in some corner of the country. An unscheduled stop or a station with no snack bars or magazine stores. A place where the only man on the platform is the one waving a flag and he looks at you wondering who the hell you are. Or walking on the streets of a town where you are sure you know no one, where every moment is new and every thought in your mind is a question and the answer is just a smile. A place where you are so desperate for the unknown that you find it all around you. Walking down a beach where couples hold hands and wait for the sun to set or kids run into the water only to be pulled back by their parents, where I can sit and watch all this without thinking of waking up the next day. Sitting in a shabby, run down bar drinking whiskey with cubes of ice and in the dark looking at the smoke in the air and immersing myself in the magic of the unknown. In that moment of freedom, the journey begins to unfold.
Sitting in a room booked on the third floor of a hotel, looking out of the balcony blowing smoke out of my mouth as my head goes tizzy and in the distance I see the sea or even better, I just hear the sea. Not a thought, not a single concern of the impending journey and of the days to come. Just my smoke, my thoughts and the sea. With a piece of Tava fried fish, Anjal or Sear fish as they call it would be my drug as I rip apart it with a single minded intensity like none other because nothing can take away from the peace I feel when I do only what I want to. I look around and there is nobody looking or judging or expecting or waiting for me to break down and then a most uneasy smile flashes across my face. The journey begins to start making sense and I find a purpose.
Lying in bed with rain pouring on the window I realise I can lie here till the rain stops or the day begins and it begins only when I decide it does. No alarm clock or knock on the door will start my day, it will be my will to live the day or the purpose that I find which will push me to begin. I start finding meaning in the walks to the nearby Udupi restaurant where I get my daily Aloo Poori fix and in the chaos surrounding an early morning breakfast I start finding calm. I begin to recognise patterns in the orders and the people involved in making the food on the table possible. I quietly observe and risk being called a lunatic as the restaurant packs up for the day with lunch being the next meal for the working and normal lot. I decide that a meal is not my next destination but maybe a run in the scorching sun is. I get into tracks with my I Pod and start running on the streets as they watch me and wonder how crazy I am. But as I run and sweat and pant and want to stop, that song begins which I always blasted through my speakers and I run faster. Some things never change. I sit on the side of the road alongside a beggar and write down what I see around me. I beg people to allow me to write stories about them. I tell them that I can’t draw a portrait but I can write a story and then I say, ‘tell me a bit about yourself’. And then I begin and I write a one page story about them. Some of them like it, some of them walk off before I finish and there will be one or two who just stand and stare in amusement. I don’t just travel anymore, I entertain, I enrich and after all these years I make sense.
So before the journey really begins I walk down these roads and towns and memories and ask myself if I am ready to change it all for a lifetime of this life. Throwing it all away and walking into the abyss seems wonderful because its liberating and allows me to explore that what is in me and is desperate to break out. On that beach and on that street and on that balcony will always live a bit of me waiting to begin his impending journey…