Every time I board a sleeper coach to take off to another new point of disembarkation or another familiar destination, something in my heart of hearts flutters with the anticipatory delirium of a child. I turn in my inadequate berth caught to the point of irreversible, in the frenzy of another unforeseen adventure.
My stint at Shindola, a remote location near the town of Chandrapur in Maharashtra had single handedly thrown me off my guard. Every shrouded evening in the forests of Shindola come back to me with the clarity through a high resolution DSLR lens.
The natives recounted hair-raising encounters with man-eaters and vultures in the treacherous womb of the local forests reminding me of curious Ruskin Bond shorts set in North India and I’d lapped up every last bit of it with the helplessness of a travel-addict. A native in tow, I’d kept going back in there, wildly hoping for a similar experience, in the look-out for the insane ways of nature, a little trouble and perhaps the ill-famed man-eater itself.
We’d once almost seen it from afar, a huge creature with monochrome patterned fur, stealth of a predator, pacing and heaving with the pride of someone who owns the place. Turned out it was a false-alarm. We’d mistaken a wild dog for the tiger and although it remained a top-drawer in my list of existential disappointments, the experience was damn right electric and possibly one of my most exhilarating ones.
One other time I’d driven off in an aimless pursuit typical of wanderers. I rented a jeep and set out to find little-big parcels of surprises without any ratified agenda at hand. And God I was surprised alright! After what felt like parallel eternities on voyage, I came to a river nearing sundown, its clean axes almost blushing in the late glow of a bashful setting-sun. What I saw from behind the windshield and soon after climbing out of my ride is right in front of you, a river of gold.
When I ask myself why I chose to travel over a well-paying desk-job at a glass-front corporate office building, I’m not confronted by conflicting arguments trying to trump over each other. My answer echoes with resounding resonance giving me the kind of security that another person might find in an institutional work-place. I travel for sunrises and sunsets. I travel so I can stand in front of a distant gassy mass of helium, looking at it, looking at it over and over again.
Much as I’ve stood vulnerable to the catastrophic beauty of every new place that I’ve travelled to, I also happen to find something posthumously discovered in places that I’ve frequented. These are the things that have set my heart on fire, a lot like the dull despair, the passive aggression of the setting sun. The kind of things that I never found in the walled confines of B-School. They’re my reasons to keep travelling and keep at it like someone dependant on a life-saving drug.