Reflections from Vagator

IMG_2259 (Medium)I think there is something to settings that makes you write. It’s not enough to write, you should go where the muse calls you. Maybe VS Naipaul would not have been able to compile his award-winning novels if he was told to sit in the middle of MG Road or Sarjapur Road, right near the Silk Board Junction and write! So, while I can look out at the sea, I can write. But push me to the end of a working day and ask your mind to settle a while, allow the words to flow, and it simply does not. One of my friends, Karen, was telling me in a chat message how she needs to write down all her travel memories, so that she can indeed look back and see that she has led a remarkable life. And how true is that. We all lead such remarkable lives. It’s hidden away within the junkyard of moments we fill our lives with. But there is no such life as a life ordinarily lived. What stories we make of our lives!

And what memories we build. While I was waiting to board the bus in Kempegowda Bus Station in Bangalore on Friday night, I was reminded of one journey nearly five years ago now, perhaps. Karen was there with her husband, Dave. Along with two other Indian friends, Birdy and Mahesh, we were going to take the bus to Banavasi. It was the beginning of a very long weekend. We had dinner in Koramangala and then took separate rickshaws to reach the bus station in the heart of the city. Or rather, Karen, Mahesh, and I reached. Birdy and Dave didn’t. Traffic was piled up on all sides leading to the bus station. There were throngs of people it seemed headed just about to anywhere. The bus we were taking was the state road transportation bus. It wasn’t meant for comfort. It was meant to help you reach your destination. Rickety seats. Open air windows. But it was already packed. And much to our chagrin, the bus was going to leave on time. We jumped on to the bus, appealing to the driver and the conductor, telling him to wait for our friends to catch up. In vain. He was going to leave. He had to be on time. I shook my head in disbelief. Late? It was just a minute past 8PM! The bus starts to pull away.

I frantically message Birdy and if SMSes could scream, it was a scream. She screams back, saying that they left the rickshaw because it wasn’t moving in the traffic and are now walking their way to the bus. Running their way. Karen and I look at each other, the same thought running through our heads. Should we wait for them? Should we jump off the bus? Mahesh is hanging on the foot board, looking for one white head and one dark head to emerge from the thronging masses. We didn’t want to take a decision. We want the decision to be forced on us. Ah, much like life. We wait. I call Birdy and I am shouting. Passengers are staring. Almost teasingly, the bus moves out. Slowly. Excruciatingly. But it’s moving. But the traffic saves us. Just as it also pushes us to the limit. The bus just crawls along behind what seems like hundreds of other buses, all headed in 4 different directions, it looks like. And then, Mahesh yells. “They are here.” On cue, they arrive. Breathless. Clambering on to the bus. We smile. Dave says ‘hah.’ Just like that the ‘hah’ becomes a memory. I would not know then that this would be a memory. But that’s the thing about memories. They never tell you. They sneak on to you and weave something special out of that moment. A memory is that moment you realize what constitutes the memorable in your life. Now, each time I visit the central bus station, I think of that one night. The tension and the stress dissolving into one magical pause when you know everything is going to be all right. I feel at the end of my life that’s what I am going to think. All this tension and stress and hullabaloo. But in the end, it was just all right. What memories we weave. What memories.

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