100 km closer to the Meaning of Life
I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it. – Paul Thoreau
Today is Saturday and like every other July evening in Mumbai, it’s pleasant. I don’t see any chai-walla on the sea-face. I satisfy myself with chana-jhorgaram. Couples are snuggled up; few oldies are sitting upright in the yoga positions; some more romantic-but-single men are “appreciating” the beauty around; and people like me are contemplating – trying to solve the mysterious question – meaning of life. I suddenly notice a sound – sound which distinctly stands out among the cacophony of honking all around – the thump of Royal Enfield. Light drizzle and mild breeze often send me back in time.
Since last 3 months, my office has been shifted and I need to cover a distance of 25km – one way. I ride my bike to the office. The Eastern Express Highway is an ordinary highway. There are no green jungles around it, nor there are any waterfalls to make the sight pretty. It is a boulevard of concrete buildings, still not a day passes by when I do not wish to continue driving – riding past the office, along the road – endlessly till the fuel in the tank finishes.
With the arrival of monsoons, I ached to go for a long drive on my Enfield. Many weekends were spent in the air-conditioned environment of the office. Outside the rains lashed and made the trees green, air salubrious and me yearn.
After a long wait, I got the whole weekend to myself.
I packed my bag and set out on the same highway through which I go to the office. It was delicious to cross the office and not park the bike in the basement! God got emotional. Clouds started weeping, so much that I wondered whether I should continue.
In my bag I kept a Ruskin Bond, which I planned to read while sipping tea on a roadside shack. It’s amazing to flirt around with the rains – sitting under a shack, tantalizingly close to getting wet and yet not; sipping tea, gazing at lush trees and reading a heart-breaking Ruskin Bond story is not far from the paradise I fantasize about.
Only after 50 km from my place did the buildings leave me. They were replaced by trees, grass and large uninhabited lands spread across both sides of the road, with an occasional interruption from small villages. Trees and grass were unusual shade of green. It felt as if someone over-saturated a photograph. I didn’t dislike the extra-ordinary black of the roads and the white strips at the centre as I drove past them. It was all pleasant to the eyes, and to the body-part few inches inside the chest.
When I started I didn’t know whether I was going to Igatpuri or Nasik. I didn’t know whether I will take a night-halt or not. All I wanted was to ride, at an easy pace, looking around and embracing whatever came my way. 30 km from Igatpuri, I decided to return. On the way, I saw a pond. It looked clean. Few ladies were swimming in it. Even though I didn’t bring my swimming costume, I yearned to jump into it – head first. Looking at their men folks strolling around with lathis, I decided to curb my “yearn”.
The chana-jhorgaram walla moves on and I see a chai-walla coming towards me on his tattered cycle, staring at every couple with a hope of making a sale. I order a cutting, and enjoy its tastelessness with light drizzle and mild breeze – while appreciating the “beauty” around – focusing on solving the mysterious question – meaning of life.