A Dialogue With A Well-Wisher

“Welcome!” I opened the door.

“Wow! Finally, I found you,” he boomed and came rushing in the room, holding a bag.

“I wasn’t hiding anywhere,” I said, closing the door, and turning to him.

“Yeah, yeah… every one knows,” he said flinging himself on the couch. “How long are you going to stay here this time?”

“Not more than a week, then I will – ”

“Go back to your Himalayas! I know, I know,” said he.

“Right,” I said.

“Man, you are having fun!”

“Fun … not exactly, I would say. I had fun when I was in Delhi. Now, it’s all work there.”

He let out a raucous laugh on hearing that, and said, “Oh, I forgot that you’ve joined an MNC up there. What package did they offer, again?”

“I am working for myself, and that’s as important as any work in an MNC. Tell me what’s up in your life?”

“My life is super-awesome buddy … anyway I heard that you ran away,” he chuckled. “What happened? Couldn’t handle the pressure?”

I stared at his mocking face, and said, “I have just taken a break.”

“A break!” he raised an eyebrow. “Break is what I took last month. Four days’ off to go to goa. You have been out of work for six months.”

“Hold your breath then. It’s going to extend much beyond your imagination – maybe three years or four, or even more than that.”

“Are you crazy? What are you trying to do here?” he asked with no particular concern in his voice.

“Nothing much … don’t you worry,” I moved towards the kitchen. “Tea?”

“No. Wait. I have brought the real drinks,” he reached into his bag, and pulled out two beer cans.

Catching the one tossed at me, I took my seat opposite him, and put the can down on the table. “Thanks,” I muttered, and sat back.

Dismissing my gratitude with the wave of his hand, he continued his attack, “You are not really hoping to make a comeback after this break of yours. Are you? Because that would be utterly foolish. More so than your renunciation.”

“I’ll worry about that when the time comes.”

“Really? You know you have committed a career suicide. If only you had consulted me once before jumping off the cliff – ”

“Sorry, but I didn’t really feel the need to.”

“I can see that,” he emptied his can. “You should’ve, though. I would’ve helped you clean up your mental mess.”

“Well, you’ve always attached too much importance to yourself.”

“Well, I have duly earned it,” he took out his wallet, pulled out a card from it, and shoved it into my hand. “See how it addresses me now. Taken another promotion. I am important – you see.”

“Congrats,” I said, smiling. “Now, tell me what made you pay me a visit today, sir. Chit-chatting doesn’t amuse me anymore.”

“Oh, shut the fuck up. We are friends, and I want to help you in your crises. What else?”

“I don’t know. Maybe, you want to belittle me. That’s something you are really good at.”

“You are talking nonsense now. I care for you, and in your crises I wanted…”

“There is no crises for you to worry about. Seriously don’t bother. I care for myself well enough.”

“Oh, you don’t like what I am saying. Right?” he said. “It requires courage to tell truth, you know. I doubt … any other friend of yours told you that … that this little adventure of yours will leave you poor in the end. That, one day, soon enough, you will return empty handed, crawling back to the old streets begging for a job.”

“You are not the first one, I can say. But since you are so worried, let me tell you that I am living an amazing life there, gathering invaluable experiences.”

“What good are your invaluable experiences if they earn you not a single penny?” he spluttered.

“Difficult for you to underatand. But I will try. Experience, you see, is the very thing that I am after. That’s what I am earning.”

“And, it sure is worthy of being mentioned on your resume,” he laughed loudly.

“I am doing what I am doing, and loving it too. It would serve you better if you worry about your own resume, not mine.”

He picked up another beer from his bag, and said, “Why aren’t you drinking? … well … anyway, the fact is that I always knew you were not cut out for the corporate world. You were meant to break one day … a fool you are.”

“You are missing a hell lot by being, what you understand to be, wise.”

“I am missing out nothing. I am earning what you can’t even imagine.”

“I am imagining much better things for sure.”

“Success, I guess. But imagining it won’t bring it to you.”

“I know.”

“Okay, tell me how it feels to sit idle the whole day.”

“You know the feeling very well. Try recalling your typical day in the office.”

“Idle. Me! You are out of your mind. I am the busiest person at work.”

“Yeah, the nation is so proud of you,” I smiled.

He snorted and looked away. “I just came to jerk you back to your senses…”

“In that case, save your energy, I never lost them.”

“I thought I would put some better sense into you,” he repeated, getting tipsy now.

“I see, you have a wonderful way of doing that,” I retorted, grinning.

He pushed himself abruptly on to his feet, and said, “I must leave now. I think you are quite beyond repairs.”

“You should, if you must.” And, I stood up as well.

He picked up his bag, and began tottering towards the door.

“Take this along,” I threw his beer can at him.

He tried catching it in vain. It hit him on his chest, and dropped down on the floor with a clatter.

Suppressing his fury, he looked at me, and said, “Maybe, you are reading too much of philosophy nowadays. It doesn’t work in real life. I’ve read it all – ”

“Oh shut up, and get out. But thanks for reminding. I need to catch up with Philosophy!” I bellowed, and took a mental note.

He turned and pushing open the door, left the place.

The Mountain Top

I tried to capture a photograph and add that with this post but the internet is not that strong here. This mountain top that stands tall right opposite to my balcony, and the base of which should not be more than a mile away from where I am writing this post, troubles me a lot. This is one thing that I see the most here – while reading, writing, going out, coming back. It refuses to budge. 

It works as a leviathan cinema screen, and presents me with the most fascinating and charming movies – the theme always remains ‘Nature’ of course. Sometimes it is shrouded with white fluffy clouds and looks what heaven must look like. There are times when after a day of snowfall it assumes an outline of bright white colour.

After the sun rises it becomes slightly hazy, and just before dusk it showers the rich green colour to the eyes. I recognize the trees outlining it by their shapes. Some look like men working, others pose as huts, and animals. They must feel awesome perched up at that height, or maybe very lonely.

The rain brings the best of the scenes. It cleans every little speck of dust from the surface of the mountain, and you suddenly feel like you are watching it on HD screen. You can count the trees, see their tilt. Some big boulders raise their heads and catch your sight. Occasionally, an image of an animal is visible, and right at the top tiny black dots of kites appear floating around.

The trouble is that I want to go there and see it all from close – but I can’t. From my place, it is a descent that will leave your knees wobbling at the end, where there is a valley. After that you will need to cross a river to get close to the foot of the hill. And then begins a very very steep ascent. It can take you hours even to reach the midway, and that is after you are extremely fit, and not afraid of leopards. And beyond a point there is no way for you to walk through the thick vegetation. You are the first person to walk any path you take thereafter. Small unrecognizable animals and insects start to flit across your vision too often for your comfort. And then begins the dark – though it still is noon in the sky now out of the reach of your eyes. Your imagiation takes over from there, and voices, all sinister, make you shudder, and your feet develop roots of their own.

That’s where the beauty you saw from your balcony vanishes, and you wish you were still there looking at it from distance. But now it is already afternoon, and the evening threatens to take over anytime. The slope appears too steep to walk on, and you begin clambering down nervously, slipping every now and then. You don’t know how you ever came that far in the first place.

Your eyes search for any signs of civilization, and you scan the distant hills all around. There a white blur of a car appears snailing far away. You take a deep breath and acknowledge that this is not the way you came through. 

“River,” you jump, “there was a river in the valley. Where is it?”

You walk to one side and then other. Get on top of a rock, and peer down to the abyss, to locate a stream. Any signs of water.

Water!! 

Where is your bottle? That’s ridiculous. You took the last sip half-an-hour back. You are extremely thirsty now. That’s it. You need to reach home as soon as possible.

You are walking down and down, and though you are famished, you dare not stop and eat even the chocolate that’s in your pocket.

The density of trees starts thinning, your hopes shooting upwards. “Ahh, I saw that little temple coming up.” And the life becomes easy when you notice a flock of sheep clung to rocks almost vertically and savouring green grass. The village at the base is now visible; the river flowing by its side. The sun is nowhere to be seen now.

In the twilight, you continue somewhat relieved, and reach the river almost in one piece. You cross it, jumping on the stones cautiously not to dislodge any.

The villagers are surprised to see a stranger roaming around in the dark, and group around you wanting to talk. You aren’t really feeling very social at this time, so you quicken your pace despite crumbling legs.

The steep and winding stone steps take you closer to your home, but now dogs stir into action not accustomed to human presence at this time. You act brave. Animals sense fear. You break into a gallop once you are out of their reach.

Your heart revolts having not had this much of work to do since you turned an adult. Sweating profusely you reach the best place in the world – your home.

You switch off the torch, and slump down on the chair in your balcony. A great sense of relief and joy come over you, and you close your eyes.

Breathing deeply, you open your eyes slowly and look at the great mass of darkness staring at you.

“I am invincible,” it appears to be sneering.

“You might well be, but you are my slave. You can’t leave me. I enjoy your beauty at will. And I can leave you whenever I want.” You smile, and go back inside.

Let me walk in peace

‘Hello!’ A booming voice shattered my reverie. I looked around to see where it came from and found a bush some twenty feet up the mountain quivering. Beside it was squatting a scrawny little man. He was scratching his white beard vigorously, and staring at me with his brows furrowed.

‘Yes,’ I shouted back, ‘what happened?’

‘Who are you? Where are you going?’ He demanded.

‘Just going for an evening stroll. Why?’

‘Nothing,’ he relaxed, and continued, ‘Where’re you from?’

‘Somewhere nearby,’ I said rather irritated, and resumed my journey uphill.

I was an outsider here. Local people would stop me on the way like this to complete their inquiries. It felt like they took me for a potential danger to their farms, or livestock. That’s why I would never eye a wandering goat or sheep, lest somebody should hit me with a stick.

I stopped after a while and went to the side of the road and glanced at the valley below. I had reached a substantial height. I inhaled the purity of the air in a long and deep breath, and checked my watch. It had been an hour since I left home.

It was a soothing sight below. A river was smoothly flowing across the farms. I traced the river to find its source on the mountain behind it, and lost it midway around some thick vegetation and rocks. My eyes glided up to the top of the hill, noticing the dense forest on the way.

The clouds were resting comfortably just above the peak, swollen bright white with pride that no one else could reach them. In the greenery below, I could see a speck of white – probably a building, a home. But who would live at that height and how? I need to buy binoculars. I took a mental note.

Must be some kind of temple, I decided, and moved on.

I had made it a point to complete this daily ritual of evening contemplative walks. Besides being very healthy, they gave me food for thought. And I love thinking deep.

I smiled at the thought of reaching ‘my spot’. My spot, was a huge rock positioned beside a road higher up the mountain, shaped like a ledge.

I reached the place and sat on the rock, eyes closed, breathing deep. The air here has a restorative quality to it. Every breath would work like an energy drink.

Generally, this place remained devoid of human existence – it was high and cold and desolate and may be slightly dangerous here – but that day I could hear some noise coming from a distance. A kind of procession – may be religious – I thought. Then I saw people emerging from the far end of the road. I turned and focused back on nature, disconnected with what was happening around.

The sky far away was displaying magic with colours. Turning in all the known and unknown shades of yellow, orange and red. Sometimes I could see the clouds shimmering in gold as well. The Sun was nowhere to be seen, having already set behind a high hill far away. But its rays were still not ready to call it a day, it seemed.

This beauty quietened every voice in my brain, every activity in my body. It brought out best of my memories to the fore. The most beautiful of them were invading my mind, leaving me in a state of trance.

And suddenly, I was pulled back with cruel force. Back from the deepest corners of my soul. And I heard it said again:

‘Who are you?’

I assume it’s their compulsive need to know every single soul around them. It irritated me a lot in the beginning. But I have accepted it now. I know they will come and talk. I have started answering peacefully. In fact, I know a lot many people around now, just because of their persistent intrusions into my privacy.

I have had evening tea with some of them by now, played volleyball, and football with some others. Knowing that the people around know me has made my walks even more pleasurable. I am one of them now.

The Decision of My Life

I am finally doing it.

I have been thinking about taking this step for quite some time now.

Call it anything – a career suicide (that it sure is), or downright stupidity – I have resigned from a very safe and well paying job just to devote all my time to reading and writing. Wow! I can’t believe it.

All the financial stability that I had built so painstakingly over the last 9 years is going down the drain. But I am not really worried about that. The only regret is that I couldn’t wait enough to complete the tenth year – a decade looks good to tell.

The positives are many.

For starters – I am moving to a small and beautiful place in the Himalayas. I can’t describe how it feels when I sit in my balcony looking up to the looming mountain tops piercing into the clouds above. Additionally, a river flowing down in the valley, giving birth to rising clouds that extend up to the ones already there creating a continuous chain of white smoke, always emanates that soothing sound. It all looks so surreal. The air, it’s so pure that a few breaths feel like an overload of oxygen in my lungs. The greenery all around, the serenity, the freshness – all so palpable, you can’t avoid them.

The view from the Balcony:

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The person responsible for transporting me to this heaven of a place is my wife. She works for the government as a teacher, and had a choice to come to this place, but could never come because of my job. I have cleared that way. Now when she goes to school with my son, I have all the time in the world to focus on reading all the great books in the world, and writing. She has bought me at least 3 years of time to invest in myself and my art.

The School:

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I am well aware of the challenges though. It will no doubt be difficult to adjust to this remote area. Coming from the capital of the country to some unheard of place high atop a mountain isn’t supposed to be an easy transition. The monthly cash loss comes to haunt me in my dreams sometimes, but I am holding up. I know that this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am not going to waste it. I am hoping to get the best out of this time, and return victorious. Whatever that means.

The Evenings:

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If nothing else, this will be the longest vacation of my life, and I am loaded with books. I have nothing to complain.

The Common Tongue of the World

While reading the immensely talented and committed fellow bloggers the other day, I realized that they all belong to so many different parts of this huge world. Asia, Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australia – name the continent and you will see someone piecing together his thoughts in words and posting for us to read. This is wonderful. The world has been so evolved that languages change the moment you cross some miles, yet it has been brought together on the same platform by one single common tongue. You might hate it or love it but English has brought us all together. I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the amazing ideas that you all have, had it not been for this language. While we all have great respect for our different mother tongues, we can’t deny the importance this one language has in the connected world of today.

It is unbelievable that so many like-minded people exist in the far away states of the remotest countries. It would have been an impossibility to even know that let alone connecting. While English was received by us Indians in heritage from the British, many people learn it especially to be able to make their point and express themselves to a wider audience. We, here, aren’t even considered educated without this knowledge. It would leave us jobless and humiliated if we can’t make other people understand in English. Strange and cruel, I used to think. We have our own language here. Why can’t we just handle affairs internally without artificially leaning so heavily on a foreign language? Whatever sore feelings I had, evaporated the day I started reading books. The treasure that these books brought along from all the corners of the earth overwhelmed me. I thank God that I know this language. I know how to understand what the greatest people who walked the earth have to say about the most perplexing situations we face everyday.

Though we have no dearth of writers in our own mother tongue, the awareness of this common tongue takes us beyond borders, mountains, nationalities, and communities. That introduces us to new ideas, strange customs, interesting thoughts, creative art work, and much more. And the fact that so many people around the world pen down their work in English has contributed to its richness. I know there is nothing like being a native speaker, but I believe more than that the dynamism and consistent improvement in this language has been a doing of people living beyond. People who carried it to the farthest corners, even if for the purpose of colonization, spread it for all of us to speak and understand one another.

This common platform provides us the opportunity to connect, to earn our livelihoods, to learn, to express, to entertain ourselves, to roam around the world, and in the end to ink it all down to share with others. The fact that I have been able to share my thoughts with you all using this language reinforces my belief in its usefulness and the freedom it offers to the individuals like me.

Drunk on my love for writing. Are you too?

I had a first after many days today. I had a bottle of beer with my father. I mean not exactly with my father truly; I kind of snatched one away from his kitty, and went into my own room on a date with solitude. I had these two episodes of Game of Thrones season 6 downloaded, and begging to be watched, but something was missing. And bang, my father enters my room asking for something to eat with beer. Up till now, he wasn’t even completely sure that I allow myself having alcohol; “occasionally”, I promised him with the most innocent look I could bring my features to conjure. It has taken me years of hard work to make my parents believe that I still am the good boy they raised. Now a couple of bottles of beer may sound routine to some; for me, having it under the same roof as my father’s was nothing short of magic. Chilled beer in this hot weather plus my favourite show. I couldn’t have asked for more.

A very well known writer once said, write drunk, edit sober. I know some of you reading machines have already got the name, but I can’t remember, I am drunk! I will make sure that I forget to edit afterwards. I will lose my flow. Jokes apart. Writing in itself is more immersing than alcohol can ever be (not for all though, you know who I am addressing). Anything that you love is, for that matter. A piece of writing is nothing less than a peek into the soul of the writer. You can’t write about something you don’t believe in. You can always write against something you don’t believe in though.

When I got initiated into the world of writing I so strongly believed that writing should be sacred. I have read too much to believe that now. Writing instead should be honest. You might touch upon some subjects considered to be taboo, but it still will be honest. You are one unique human being, absolutely unmatched in anything. Why should you be forced to see something as ‘some particular thing’? Everyone has his own perspective. That’s what makes us all interesting. Stop brooding about the good things others have. Count your own. It is simple – if it pleases you, it’s good. Believe me. Until of course, it involves hurting others. Everything has boundaries. Don’t be literally drunk! You don’t have to be a hero, but don’t be a villain either.

In the lives of working professionals, a Saturday is perhaps the most loved day. To start with, the word itself has a pleasant ring to it. The fact that it is followed by something as awaited as Sunday, pulls it ahead of all other days in the race – we all agree that something that has a Monday at the end of its tail can’t be all that good. So make the most of it, not by drowning yourself under the weight of alcohol, but by engaging in a real activity, something constructive. Something creative.

Understand that you can’t put a price on something that generates happiness within you. It is a rare commodity. People may come harsh upon you and tell you that such an activity is forbidden. But then, forbidden is pleasurable as well as achievable. Don’t go overboard though. Excess of everything has repercussions we can’t digest. That’s why they are called bad.

Talking about freedom of writing, I come across so many ingenious writers everyday on internet, that I wonder why aren’t they published yet? But then getting published is not everyone’s aim. I read bloggers that are just incredibly talented and thorough. They are so prepared. They are meticulous and impeccable. I bow in front of them. I learn from them. Even though they do the honours of liking what I write, I know where they stand. And I have a lot to learn from them. It is only their humility that they appreciate others. That is what is amazing in the blogging world. We encourage one another. We appreciate novelty of thoughts, and honesty of expression.

Each one of you is my inspiration. People from all walks of life. Committed to writing. Sharing their lives, and ready to read that of others. Words are music to us writers. Keep creating symphonies. We are here to hear you. Be loud and original enough to reach our ears though, as there is so much of noise around. Once you separate yourself, we will catch you and listen to you. However, don’t just be loud for the sake of it. Put your feelings into your words, and rest assured we will hear, as we are all trying to be heard.