Saturday, January 03, 2009

Where was I?

It was a coincidence I met this person “Maanas” on my flight journey back to Bangalore from Delhi, we could talk very easily as we shared few common interests and here I am publishing his latest adventure in my blog. Here it goes, thoughts of Maanas in his own words.

Maanas :

Few might think either I am crazy or mad to travel like this or probably few might think I am troubled soul or few might think I am philosophical but to me it was only to understand myself and only a measure to know what I have compared to the rest. It was a journey for myself more than for anything else. I would not consider myself to be on either side of the groups atheist or theist rather I would abstain myself from this discussion saying I don’t know anything on either of these. However it was more of my own experiments on my own self. Rather my idea of this trip was to not plan a trip but just try out all crazy things in my mind, to try out all my mind desires in a week. To live just like living, cut off from the world and to live in my world of dreams and isolation without worrying about any thing. Probably it sounds crazy but it was an interesting thing for me to try out. However it would not be fair enough to say my mind could stay away from lust of body but probably you can say either I was lucky or busy not to give much thought in this direction.

These were few things I wanted to try out for myself
- Hunger for atleast 3 days
- Feel the cold with minimal or no clothes
- Meet the poor
- Survive without a penny in my pocket
- Sleep on a huge rock
- Walk in the night, to feel the fear of darkness
- Talk to saadhus to know what is that they want?
- Sleep in front of the river
- Read few books
- Try to swim
- Observe humans around
- Be silent and be with yourself
- Travel in public transport, to feel the toughness of journey of the poor
- Visit few temples if I feel like
- Walk along the banks of the river whole day
- Try to earn some money doing any work
- Jump into the cold river from a huge rock.

So an introduction to this trip would be something like I wanted to get lost and a feel for everything which I had. The idea was to travel very far and then isolate myself from everything food, family, friends, current affairs, money everything and be with myself for few days.

I basically divided this trip into 2 main parts one to live myself being silent and observing and two was to interact with people. Both were very useful first one proved me how fake and scared I am and second one showed how much more fake and scared the others are. Below I am only pinning down my thoughts which came to my mind as and when I observed so I would not rather give the details which ran in my mind but it would be more of things which I scribbled down in my notepad through out the journey.

- He was a tough solider with an automatic assault rifle in his hand, looking suspiciously at everyone in the airport. This might be probably due to the terrorist threat in this country. I went up to him and asked “Bhaiya yaha pe ISBT keliye bus milega?” I was very surprised at the very response from the hard looking soldier “Bilkul milega, ham batayenge naa apko, akir ham hai hi apke seva keliye. Yaha se seeda bahar jao, todi left loo aur waha par apko ek green bus dikhegi, wo apko ISBT tak sirf ek ghante mee matraa pachas rupayee mee pohanchaadega”. At least I did not expect such a soft spoken person to be such a brave hearted solider however it took time to realize after all even he is a human.

- Out here in the capital city of India I see lots of armed guards all along the roads even in the midnight, it’s a tough life to see them standing alert even in the chilling cold of the north. So I would first salute to them in support and hence forth adding a few lines in this article were in it had nothing to do with my experiments.

- I felt I have always traveled to my comfort, but how would it be to travel in the worst of the roads in worst of the buses. And this gave me the idea to travel through the horrible buses of the north, probably these buses are never gona die its been used for years and years. All the seats were shaking and quite a few even fell down. I slept with my bag in the last seat to get a hard and bumpy ride.

- In the first morning I got down from the bus in the early hours, I did not have any plans, neither I knew where to go and what to do. My bag was very heavy felt like I need to get rid of this bag first before I could start off. I started walking in the small town, however it was still very early and the cold breeze was pleasing for me, however I was feeling very bad about the human intervention with nature with pollution all around. After walking for around 8kms I found a cheap hotel where in I dumped my luggage and slept for 2 hours.

- My first encounter with a saadhu, I asked him what was he doing here to which he said not every one will understand that. After engaging him in talk for few minutes he showed me the photo of his sons. His 2 sons had ditched him, felt like he had chosen the path with no other options left for him.

- This river looks mysteriously calm yet a mystery to me.

- I was sitting on a huge rock and was watching the water flow all of a sudden around 50 ducks from sky landed into the water creating ripples in water just like waves in my mind. It was spectacular beauty to watch it.

- At the beginning I could not give much thought why I was sitting on the rock nor I knew much of what I would do but I was enjoying myself a lot. Probably I cannot express that.

- I have always traveled in groups, however traveling alone is a challenge, risk, adventure and great thrill. You always get time to view the world through your view.

- You climb one mountain, you see another which is still bigger and challenging. Probably similar to life’s need you clear one and there is always the next ready for you.

- Day 2 and I was very hungry but I did not wanted to try out anything, I felt that the winds were sharp and were cutting my body just like a blade. It was very early in the morning and I started walking out of the small village, towards the forest, visibility was very poor neither I knew where I was walking. I was a bit scared as there would be nothing that could help if something happens to me yet I was enjoying the shear beauty and believed nothing could happen to me.

- I met few westerns going ahead, felt like many visit India to see how poor a country India is and few even laugh at how ignorant we are with our false pride and still speaking of the past without knowing where the rest of the world has reached today. However they are equally puzzled looking to the sadhus how poor they look and yet they are ignorant about others and are happier in their own world.

- I kept reading few books I carried and when ever I felt tired I slept on the undisturbed white sand on the banks of the river, on rocks, on benches, below the tree like a mad man. There was no one to question me and I was totally unknown to anyone it was like the entire world is still and only I was walking.

- Looking at the way a fellow Indian treats a westerner, I felt like we Indians are highly racist a treatment a westerner gets can never be expected to a common man, one reason might be the amount of money a westerner pumps into the society.

- I felt it difficult to understand the life of these sadhus. I did not understand to myself how can one be so confident on something which he has never seen nor experienced? I am here sitting on a huge rock watching them from far drying their clothes, there is dog beside me and probably watching the same and both look like equally confused.

- Day 3 and I have developed a light headache due to hunger but there is nothing to worry about it. I walked a lot almost 20kms and by after noon I was on top of mountain from where I could see the entire village below me. I was tired, hunger had started troubling me, I could feel in my body. Probably even due to the cold I had sever cramps in my legs I was not even able to walk properly. Sitting here on the top I felt like I should log into my mails and check what the rest of the world is doing. But just by looking at the village down I felt like it’s the same every one moving across a mechanized world nothing different nothing new and hence I gave up the idea of doing anything like that. A mechanized world which forgets it’s past and knows nothing about the future and yet busy.

- From here I see a huge land slide, a part of the mountain has just collapsed into the river. Lots of loose sand and rocks have fallen into the river. I thought let me walk on it. I started climbing down along the loose soil and I did slip quite a few times before I reached the banks. It looked like an unexplored beauty of pure white sand between huge rocks. I spent my evening reading books sleeping on these banks. Suddenly I saw a beautiful bird in front of me. It looked like it wanted to please me. It would jump off the rock do some stunts and then again come back and sit on the same rock. I was really surprised to see something like that. How could it manage to sit on the same rock again and again?

- It almost got dark and I started walking back towards the village. I was walking on the road one side of which is the thick forest and the other side is the river. On my way back it was very dark and occasional screaming of the monkeys and birds did scare me out of my mind but otherwise it was a great experience to walk alone like a devil in the night. I did not understand what I wanted to prove but it was a good fear to have. Walking in the dark I asked myself what am I really scared off initially I got the answers like wild animals, street dogs, humans? But probably I would be scared of myself the most not knowing what I would do the next.

- I found a place near to the village on the banks and decided to sleep on a rock that night. Winds started getting stronger and stronger and I could feel it carrying the sand on my body. It was getting colder and colder and I tried to hide myself between the rocks and I never know when I got sleep. However I could not sleep the entire night properly as I was shivering from cold and fear of being alone. In the silence of night the sound of the flowing river did add to my fear. However I felt like let me feel the chillness of the river. In the early hours say around 4 when it was very cold and when I was not able to sleep any more I striped off my clothes completely and naked I got into the water it was freezing. I felt like I had put on loads off ice cubes on my body. I couldn’t stay in water for more than few minutes as I felt I would freeze to death, I came out of water and sat on a rock I tried to close my eyes and get lost in the idea of keeping my mind idle. I should not think anything in my mind. It’s a very difficult task as I kept thinking one or the other but when I was at least something close to it I was like in a sort of coma state. I could hear and feel everything yet I felt everything was a dream and I not able to open my eyes… It was a strange feeling….

- Well during this state of my mind I never felt cold even though the breeze was very strong in the early morning hours, felt like mind definitely plays a part to feel the weather. However I couldn’t completely agree to this as well. But definitely a strong mind can bear few things better.

- Last night it was very cold on the banks I did not know how to hold myself, I meditated for few minutes it definitely helped however I used to feel cold again as soon as I open my eyes. I pulled out my ipod and with all the dance beats I started dancing just like my mind wanted me to  no steps were known to me before probably it was the craziest of dances I have ever danced. But it was fun thinking and laughing at myself.

- Day 4 early morning and I am still sitting here on the banks of this magnificent river and I see 4 peacocks looking at me probably I never got to see these birds so closely in the wild. It was spectacular to watch them fly. They looked at me, should be wondering who is this stranger or probably might be the other way as well with so many humans all around. Early morning when the first light falls on these mountains I felt like how huge and unapproachable these mountains and I wonder how man reached and crossed all the way ahead in olden days.

- I am sitting on the edge of this huge rock formations from where the river looks like a death bowl. She is flowing with enormous speed and fast rapids. I am sitting here on the edge with my legs hanging something like living on the edge probably. No way I can survive if I slip. From here I started walking inside the forest I did not know where I was heading towards I went very deep inside I almost walking for 3hours. Once deep inside the forest I was really scared I kept following a stream which joined the river, wow it was not a waste I explored a small falls it was a beautiful falls small and hidden. The light had started to go down but I did not wanted to miss and opportunity to enjoy the falls. I sat below the falls for quite sometime and then when it was almost dark I was a bit nervous as I did not know where exactly I was. My only idea was to follow the stream back again. Walking in the night was again very scary experience felt like I would get a heart attack with the slightest of the sounds. Probably one can only feel it rather than could be explained. But it’s a strange experience you are alone know one knows where you are neither I know where exactly I am.

- Its almost 3 days now for me without any food I was just drinking water, however my body has started to feel the need of energy, I had sever cramps and blisters in my leg I was even struggling to walk. This night I felt like hunger is very hard it tends to freeze your brain from thinking any further. It looks like it just freezes your thoughts, I was just waiting to break my fast, I felt like I need at least something I did not have any choice for food. It was the sheer need to survive is what I felt. The darkness added to the pain I felt like my eyes were wet I wanted something to eat felt like I need help but I was no were near any village. Nor I would get anything probably this was one of the longest nights in my life. I couldn’t wait until I could see the sunlight just to eat something. My mind did not wanted to ignore the need of food any longer. Probably hunger and lust are the greatest challenges to human mind. Either of these would take complete control of the rest when they are active. Lots of things sounds true to hear and when you challenge the truth very few stands out to be the real truth. This was the day where in I was not having a penny in my pocket, it was like even If I could find something to eat I didn’t have anything to buy it. It was great learning to at least understand the basics of hunger myself. However I got confused like what is more important the food or the money, many might put an end saying food however how can we reject the influence of money towards food?

- I saw so many troubled people around me that I never felt like I need to visit a temple to see god. More over there is always a middle man between me and the god.

- Day 5 the last day of my trip was very meaningful as I was trying to conclude so many of my thoughts which I experienced over 5 days. I started my day with a heavy breakfast. Probably humans are the only animal species who cares much about other animal species than the fellow humans. I saw a woman feeding all the stray dogs on road felt like how could she ignore the hungry humans watching her?

- Smallest of happiness could be found probably by smallest of actions, as old man was trying to pull a cart uphill and he was struggling, I saw it for few seconds and then pushed it a bit from the back and it moved up easily. Probably he never noticed but I was having a smile on my face. One more incident I was sitting on a bench and was writing my notes I saw an old sadu beside me writing something on a piece of paper with a pen refill. He was struggling to grip the refill in his hand. I went up to him and offered him my pen. He asked me, I saw you writing don’t you need it? I said I can buy one more. He accepted the pen happily and he tried writing with his new pen but he couldn’t hold the same and he kept his pen inside and started writing again with the refill. Sometimes certain things never matter it looked like he had only 2 purpose the need to write and the convenience, so even the costliest of the pens would have hardly made a difference to him. After he finished writing I asked him what he wrote however he was not interested to share the same.

- Today I saw few people praying in front of the river. I did not have any problems in their faith however when I saw them throwing plastics into the river I felt sorry for their faith as well as for the river. However the river looks like she has her own ways of handling things. She accepts everything that’s been offered to her and grace fully rejects things she is not interested in. I could see old clothes, plastic bottles all along the banks of the river.

- Today I tried to find a part time job for me which could at least get some food for a day but I failed miserably. I wanted to try out the smallest of jobs but probably because of my costume or due to generosity of people they did not want me to do their job and hence I was jobless.

- I feel troubled when I can’t stand by my words and my inability to act on it makes it worse. But its so strange everyday the sand on the banks of the river is disturbed by human footprints yet when I come back the next day its an undisturbed new layer waiting. It’s like things move on how much so ever one is disturbed.

- Its almost a week now, I don’t know anything, I haven’t read any news paper, I haven’t checked my mails, I always kept my mobile switched off. It was an experience of having and living my life to myself without any commitments any responsibilities and trying to do all the funniest of things I wanted to do without any barriers of being what I am not in a society of people. It was a feeling of myself which I enjoyed the most. I walked like a mad man everywhere I could in the roads, in the villages, in the forest, on the banks. Whenever I was thirsty I drank from the river without any fear. I got into the river played in the cold water. I threw stones into the river until my hands were dead tired. I spitted to see how far I could spit. I shouted to see how loudly I could shout. I slept on huge rocks on the edge. I slept on white sand banks. I got into water completely naked in the night. I rolled on the sand like a mad dog which I just happened to see. However one thing I missed the most was my ability to swim. If I were to be a good swimmer probably I would have tried crossing the river from one end to the other. It would be left as an unaccomplished desire.

- After almost a week of isolation I tried coming back to my old so called civilized world. I logged into internet, checked my mails, spoke to few, nothing much has really changed, was just thinking like how the feeling would be if I get lost and were to come back after many many years. How many lives would have been changed and how would have still remembered me? It was a strange feeling so many things were coming to my mind but when I thought of it, its gone.

- I am sitting in the busy street on this small town and there is a dog and a cow beside me and 100s of humans passing by my side. I am hardly known and watched by anyone it gives me a feeling of am I invisible? Sitting in the middle of the busy street silently is great fun, you tend to give ear to lots of talking happening all around you. I felt like Indians are highly intellectual when you speak to them but they are just a sheep in the heard which follows in a society which he lives.

- Today I tried all the local food in the local street right from soda, samosa, bread cutlet, choley, fruit juices, pakode, popcorn, chai each and everything. I was wondering if someone can have it why can’t I? But I seriously don’t know how my stomach is going to treat me but luckily nothing happened to me. Here I also saw a german bakery and saw lots of westerners in it. I was surprised not to see any Indians, probably there is still a distinct line that’s been drawn. I don’t understand is it the cost or the inferior complex which we have implanted ourselves. I entered the bakery to realize why probably Indians avoided it non of the food looked Indian and so called Indian food were more like Indian food minus spices.

- After observing few sadhus here I felt one thing at least which I should warn the fellow travelers, a simple fact a sadhu who wants to show you wats truth, wats peace, wats yoga etc etc is a fake who really knows is hardly interested in you and is hidden and if you really wanna learn you gonna find him and not the other way. But to me one to oneself is the best teacher along with nature. As I felt there is no predefined path to either god, peace or happiness its all within oneself.

- My journey of silence and being with myself is gonna end. 5 days of solitude, silence and toughness was probably one of the toughest physical and mental challenges I have posed myself. It was one of the hardest and most fascinating journeys I have undergone probably its hard to get such a kind of privacy, isolation in future. Do I know my future? For 5 days I had forgotten the date, day, time everything, I used to tick everyday in my notebook to keep track of the days. If I continue like this for few more days probably I might get lost from the current. But how much I need the current in my life is also very important. The best thing I have learnt of this journey is not to act what I am not, I can’t be best in everything and everywhere but its good to know my limits and weakness. But lot more would also depend on how much I can follow. I felt humans are every where if you want to be with yourself and private then either you surrender to darkness or forget the rest of the world around you. At the end I feel I am better human and I stand above many others I saw but I still see so many people who stand above me and what so ever or how much ever I try probably I would always stand one step below the innocent bird.

- I haven’t seen much of the world but at least poverty can’t get any better anywhere. My country is really poor. I learnt how hunger can be like and how helpless I would be without money and food. The value of food is very high and I feel one should experience it.

Wow what a trip that was, I was really very happy that Maanas shared his trip details and I also got the permission to publish this in my blog so that all my friends could read up the same.

2 comments:

SHRADHA MUDALIAR said...

Such journeys of life are rare to be heard, hats off tho Manas for living it.

ispeakintangents said...

Reminded me of "Into the Wild". Hats off to Manas for having done this kind of a trip. Very interesting inputs. Ofcourse all we do is for our stomach. Thats what we forget in the mad rush of earning and spending.