February 28, 2003

Retreat

Today is day thirteen of my vacation, which also happens to be the last day of my stay in Trivandrum. Tomorrow morning, at 4:30 AM, I catch a rather deserted train for Indore and reach there two days later. I do not even know when it will be the next time that I would see this place again. After a three day halt at Indore, it would be back to Delhi and the graveyard shift on the 8th. Seriously, it does not take much time for twenty days to pass. There should be a law or something against vacations that just rush by.

In a lot of ways this has been anything but a vacation. Okay, it was a vacation from work but nothing more. It was by design though that it worked out that way than due to a lack of choice. Now that I have the time, I did consciously choose to sort out longstanding emotional issues and niggles that should have been dealt with ages back. And it virtually has been a travel through time, things, people and places I have left behind, to see if anything has changed and to let go of statements that had outlived its utility, that one tends to carry over, unnecessarily from a time long gone. And most importantly, to see if conflict was not the only way to move on and let go of the past.

Lots of things still do not make much sense and there is just a hazy feeling for the most part in my mind, as I am still confused, most of the time, about perspectives. Should I totally let go of what I have seen and what I know and embrace the future as an independent entity, that is predominantly influenced by what I know and believe in the present. I know it sounds pretty complicated, but that is the best I can do to explain something that I am grappling with a lot, albeit with little success. But something that I would remember is my folks talking about death, their death that is, if and when it comes. Never seen anyone so scared, so insecure and so much in need of some form of reassurance. The saying "death is the great leveler" holds true to the last bit. I really do wonder what it would feel like to be old. Would I feel the same? Would I still be like this, restless, unsettled and a wanderer for life? Would I even live for that long?

One of the things that irritate me about here is the way the so called educated behave. It makes me wonder what hope really does the the people who live in abject poverty in the so called cow belt have when education and a supposedly more refined culture still does not make any impact in the narrow crevasses called as mind sets here. Most of my female cousins are in the age group of 25 - 28 and I am yet to see one adult speak of one them as an independent person, who should be given her due as far as choosing her life goes. It is sad to see parents who have masters in sociology and home science speak of their daughters as a burden that is to be plonked away on some stranger.

Believe me, I am no feminist nor do I have faith in any other 'isms'. But it is really sad to see kids who have really bright careers feel wasted if they remain unmarried at the age 24-25. It is nothing short of indoctrination that makes it work so beautifully and the crazy lengths to which some of them go get rid of the various 'evils' that stand in the way of their wedding makes me wonder what good really is education and all that jazz if you cannot make any use of it.

The last week or so I have spent here have been quite excellent. Managed to drive a fair bit through the highways here, which is a welcome relief from the monotony of the super-wide roads in Delhi that turn at right angles almost all the time. In the past three days I have been to four different beaches and had my fill of sun, sand and a bit of rain. Of all the beaches I went to, the one at Varkala still remains as my favourite. Can wade in the serene waters there for hours on end and still not have enough. This is one thing that I miss with all my life about this place. And yes, the greenery. Sigh.

Among other tidings, the next seven days, starting tomorrow, would be the longest I would have been offline in a period of maybe three years. I can, of course, check mail and etc from a cyber cafe (Indore is not that bad a town), but for some reason I want to stay away from it all and have three days of peace and quiet there in a house that has arid farmlands all around it and mountains that dot the horizon. Since Airtel condescended to activate roaming on my cell phone a while back, I can always be reached on that, that is if the need to get in touch is really that dire.

Otherwise this should ideally be the last word from me for a week or so, provided I can still withstand the evil allure of the cyber cafe!