Feb 28: My fingers involuntarily reach out for the car stereo and curve over the volume knob. The guitar strings come to life and echo violently against the car windows as Atif Aslam’s voice booms – ‘Hum kis gali ja rahe hain, hum kis gali ja rahe hain, apna koi thikaana nahi.’ (Which way are we going? Which way are we going? We have no home)
I hold the driving wheel back in my left hand and press down upon the power window button. The glass on my driver window slides down slowly to let a gush of humid air vehemently kiss my face. I smile. Life is good. I can’t foresee what my drive will be like – whether I’ll get a scorching sun or the relief of a downpour; but one thing no one can take away from me is the pleasure of being on the road. That’s why I drive because it makes me feel alive.
I watched the movie Highway recently and a dialogue stuck with me, “I don’t want to go back from where you brought me. I don’t want to reach the destination to which we are abound. But this journey is nice, I wish it never ends.”
Why are we always in a hurry? – to reach somewhere, to plan for tomorrow, to leave something, to run from the past. And, in that hurry, forgetting about the now. Why can’t we appreciate the scenery as we drive? Perhaps, get down to get a bite of the roasted corn – not because we are hungry but just because…
Have you ever travelled alone? I think real travel is when you travel alone because only then can you absorb whats around and not give in to the anxiety of being somewhere else. I have not done it yet but want to so badly.
If past is where we started and future where we are driving to, present is that journey on the road of life. Despite all your planning, you might miss a train some day and end up going another way. A flat tire may make you miss your appointment with the future and unless you learn to enjoy these hits and misses themselves, the journey will get very tiring.
I have myself grappled with the ghosts of the past. I used to feel I am cursed and attributed my failures to things that have happened before. But, I now feel that it is just an excuse to shrug off our responsibilities. What I did determined my past and not vice versa. And, I cannot change it even if I choose to relive it again and again.
He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past.
And as for the future, if you think you can control it, you are mistaken. I can say from experience that destination may change (and it inevitably will) but if we are not enjoying traveling towards it, we almost certainly will not enjoy arriving at it.
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
So, next time you travel in India, make sure to stop for the bhutta and a glass of kadak chai. Look at that sun setting behind the mountains and the herd of cattle crossing the road and blocking the traffic. Don’t curse at the dawdling goats or honk at the villager riding the bicycle meekly on the side. You might miss them when you reach your destination.