February 17, 2004

Nainital

And we went driving on Friday, in near-zero visibility and over ledges that could barely be described as roads, towards a quaint old town that grew up from the shores of a lake. The higher we climbed, the colder the wind became and it gradually blew away the foliage of misery that has come to litter the grounds of life. For once, I felt no need to sweep it off, this was going to be a short-lived pleasure. The leaves could wait.

With a flourish of romantic keystrokes I could have called the town, I saw at four in the morning, surreal. But it was not, it was just a town that was about to wake up. We started walking towards the center, while the others drove on ahead trying to find a place to stay. The lake, reaching far out on our left, did not take any notice. It has seen so many city slickers in its time and continued on its slumber, caressed every now and then by the moon lazily glistening over another tiny wave or two.

After couple of hours of sleep in a room that looked like a drawing straight out of a kindergarten sketchbook we were out again. A town that still had its shutters down, for a cause we cared little about, greeted us with its trademark lethargy. The sun was shining down in full force now and another dimension was added to the enduring confusion in my life. I definitely liked the place, but I did not like it enough to stay there for good, this was just another temporary destination, another rock the river would touch. The ocean, this was not.

We eventually found our sustenance, in an even tinier town, 12 kilometers from where we were. The main road twisted and turned through the collection of houses and shops in a boa-like manner. And onwards we went from there, with no definite plans or destinations, making decisions on the fly and then we stopped at what was the best part of the journey - a tea nursery.

It was nestled in a valley with huge hills in the distance, on a terrain that was deliciously up and down. The calm was something to be experienced. Every now and then the wind would pick up, gently howling its way through the trees like a Mexican wave and fade away, only to unexpectedly start again from another part. We were served cups of tea made from the finest leaves, it had the colour of the setting sun and tasted like honey.

I told my boss that, come Monday, he could hire someone new. I was not going anywhere from there.

Later, we spent a lot of time lazing around in an island in the middle of a huge lake, ate some horribly cooked and greasy Chinese food and made our way back to the quaint town. Over boiled eggs, heady rum and an assortment of food, that I cannot recollect much about, we bitched and cursed about every possible thing we could dig up.

It was so much like being back in college, it was so much fun and it so had to end, come Sunday morning.

The drive back was not fun, at least most parts of it was not. Places that we drove through at breakneck speeds on late Friday night were now packed with people and we were crawling through most tiny towns. The only saving grace was the highways that were flanked by lush green wheat fields on either side. I wanted that part to never end.

But it did end, at eight in the night, when I got back to my tiny home and the musty, smelly routine called life.

Even as short as it was, the trip was a great thing. It has been thirteen months since I had headed out of town and this was a very welcome break. The past few months have not been good and the worst is not over yet. There is so much work to be done, a few loose ends need tying up before I can move on.

This little journey is only a reflection of another journey that has come to an end. My work here is over; I have paid my dues; the mansion of memories need to be locked up and the keys given to time?s keeper.

To where, when and why are questions that will only answer itself in the time that is to come.

For now, I am a slave only to momentum.