What a privilege it is to be able to write again for one! A few years ago when my professor at the university said – “Everyone is a poet till the age of 23”, it seemed such a remarkable thing to say. Until it did come true! And how!
The last few months have been really difficult. From every possible angle. People might call depression a rich person’s disease, but it’s no picnic being in one. Your thoughts wage a war of sorts in your head and you feel suffocated and sleepy all the time. I read about something called an “Impossible Task Syndrome” that happens in depression. Every fucking thing is impossible to do, except lying in bed. And crying. For no reason. Yes, you do the usual “get up, dress up, show up” thing, but that is a temporary solution.
There’s another temporary solution which is being glorified by Bollywood (in particular Imtiaz Ali) of late – Travel. Just pack your bags and leave. Your problems will whiff away and you will come back a changed person. Or you will find love. Or find yourself. No. Don’t get me wrong, all of that stuff can happen. It does, in a few cases. But the thing is when it becomes a benchmark to judge how smart or outgoing someone is, like the millennials do, it has the potential to make you even more frustrated. The answers lie within. Travelling can merely rejuvenate you (or disturb you further depending on your companions), but the real task depends on who you are as a person, your weaknesses and your triggers.
Some six months ago, I went to Sri Lanka and vowed never to travel with only women ever again. I had my doubts but I was told I was being sexist. Turns out, not every person who alleges abuse is actually getting abused. And that is why, so many women who are really getting abused have no one to believe them. As a teacher, I used to ask my class of all-female students to not opt for women’s colleges or universities. They do not help anymore. It’s a thing of the past to segregate the sexes. And in India, where men are from Mercury (close to the sun and complete boiling pots) and women are from Pluto (forever cold and yet to reach anywhere close to the sun) this further deteriorates their interpersonal relationships (except the one they have silently to produce a mixed and worse breed of their own). Women have been taught to be vile to each other and tolerant towards men and their demands. For men, its the exact opposite. I was a fool to have believed in any abuse story; I mean, why would anyone give up 8 cars, innumerable houses, property and more just because of a few slaps? For some people, that can come under BDSM, no? (Forgive me, I don’t know much about BDSM).
My mother considers that trip to be the trigger for everything horrible that’s been happening – me not getting paid and having yet another crisis, the depression, my violent temperament, the not-so-good things that happened during a recent family trip and more. In a society of single shaming people, my 27 years are too much for me to not post PDA pictures and my travelling too much for my father’s insecurity. My only solace was listening to Shaheen Bhatt talk about her depression (I’m so like her in every which way) and going to Puri and adjoining villages with two of my friends who happen to be stand-up comics (interchange those). No, they did not make me laugh with jokes, we were on a serious business. Speaking of that, nature was depressed too and since Kalinga Sagar (there’s no Bengal here, ok!) was bored of hitting Andhra Pradesh over and over again, Fani decided to land in Puri instead. No biggie! Cyclones are our thing! Except that this time around they came in the summers and made things far more miserable than they usually are. And also, the national media did not pay any attention. Whatever they did was what Vicky Kaushal did to please Kiara Advani in bed in Lust Stories!
The one thing travelling teaches you is to trust strangers. Because you have to. They will screw you up and can possibly ruin your trip (bus/cab drivers, especially), but you got no option. Trust everything – the food you eat, the animals you see at Bandipur Reserve, the Oyo room people at Bangalore, the lady at the tiny Ooty hotel, the places you roam, the weather. Any of them can get you screwed. Even while adding interesting chapters to your life. one of the key reasons why relationship experts ask couples to travel before tying the knot is because of the uncomfortable, unfamiliar zone you are in while travelling. You can’t run away, it’s scary. So you face your demons and of each other’s too. Confrontations happen while travelling. People talk about things that have been bothering them when things don’t go their way while they are trekking up a mountain. You don’t do it then, it’s bound to happen when you get back. But its all for the better. How else would you confront and draw boundaries when people don’t talk anymore at home?
My recent sojourn to the hills was something of the sort. Couldn’t be more dreamy eyes about it since I decided to go in the peak season and saw more tourists than nature, crowding every space and doing cringe worthy things. Most tourist places have been ruined by people and climate change, which happened because of people. Ooty is no longer even pleasant, it’s hot. Unless you opt for a midnight walk across the quaint, little town. Coonoor might be more magical. So, you might wish to stay there and pray people do not destroy Chikmanglur and Kodaikanal the way they destroyed Ooty.
Since I was travelling with family, it did occur to me why people spend a fortune and book packages. You get better hotels; even if you are running from one place to the next you get to see them and you have higher chances of getting a better driver. Tip – Do hire a local cab driver for sightseeing in Ooty. I didn’t do any of that and paid the price – not in cash but through tears and screams. No, he did not do anything, I went into a self-destructive overdrive. What can I say? Here I was miserable thinking about everything that had been happening to me while my friends were busy assuming I was some sort of celebrity with money, offers, videos and younger men by my side (I just have one!). While you indulge in self pity watching other people’s Instagram photos, they are planning to hang themselves. That’s just how things work! It’s just that we don’t work that way. Human mind always longs for the other side (unless you are in KC Undercover or Stranger Things) and gets unhappy and jealous with other people’s perceived success. We are obsessed with winning and showing it off even if it leads us to a bitter, bad end. Hey, at least, you get to keep the facade! So what if your body was rotting while films were being made on your schizophrenia?
I have had a habit of being too honest and inviting my own peril. Even when I was not honest, I invited my own peril. “It’s the valley of the doomed,” she said. While my mother exploits my fetish of wearing finger rings by making me wear gemstones (which cost me a fortune!) to ward off ‘buri nazar’, I wonder if this is what it takes to create boundaries while learning how to travel better, without being a 27-year-old baby! While my big city friends keep buckets of water and wait for the weekends, calling their lives a success, I think about where the next paycheck is to come from while getting rejected by a guy yet again for being a freelancer.
You see, travelling will not take away all your problems. That’s for you to do. The one thing it does is force you to adjust and accept to whatever is given to you. Life is a trip. You expect something, get something entirely different in return, you make difficult adjustments, adapt and then survive, while secretly wishing for it all to end. Like Robert Frost, all of us will be “telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence.” That’s how we’ll reach our The End.