He have it, do you?

One fine evening while returning from work, I had a nice nap thinking what I should cook for dinner. When I woke up, I had a brilliant idea of a dinner-out with colleagues at a fast food restaurant with whatever money we had at the end of the month. The fast food chains provide offers to fill up the stomach without much dent in our pocket. Back to topic, as we entered the restaurant, we ordered loads of food and had fun while eating.

No, no the end.

As we stood in the line waiting for the food that will fill our stomach, something filled my heart as well. A middle-aged man was standing at a table looking at the bill and counting the money he got back from the counter. At the very first sight the scene looks depressing and sad to the onlookers. But hey, it was a fast food chain, people were in rush, who cares what he felt! Anyway, he stood there with a gloomy look on his face and maybe guessing how much money he was left with to meet the ends this month. 

Or maybe he was just an aware citizen looking for GST and the other taxes so that he can criticize it later at a tea stall with his fellow tea enthusiasts.

Let’s be a bit positive for a moment, shall we?

As I looked at him, he had a hint of satisfaction in his eyes when he looked up. I had to avert my eyes as it would have been rude to stare. Thoughts flew in, settled down and started talking.

While we were looking for fun and food, a night to post pictures of and laugh about, that man at the table stood counting how much it cost him to buy happiness. He had what none of us had at that moment. He was going to go back and face smiles and laughs that meant most to him in this world. He was going to cherish the fruit of every dime he spent on his happineIss. Isn’t that what is life about, finding happiness and if not found, looking for it!

So, as we sat there eating and laughing at our silly jokes, I watched a man buy happiness where the world buys food..

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The Ache

It aches for freedom, the choice.

The lost sense of happiness,

The carefree feeling it used to feel.

The winds are slow and the air polluted,

The lights falls heavily on the eyes, blinding them.

The soothing darkness is missing,

It has lost its power and shies away in the corner.

The music makes no sense, they don’t create happiness;

Music is just noise now.

It aches for everything real, free.

Stories of shattering dreams

When I look at my friends and talk to them,

I don’t find them happy.

They have enough bank balance, they can survive,

And they are just surviving.

They have lost their happiness, each one of them.

Is this just a phase? Or this will last for a lifetime?

There is a storm up to every throat and heart;

They will survive. They will not.

They are now dreaming of running away, so do I.
Once upon a time, all those souls were happy and free; 

Now they are burdened.

Heaviness settling on their shoulders and in their hearts.

They might lose it.

I just hope they don’t.

They say the words and feel it too much;

Either they feel a lot or not.

I can hear their cry for freedom and happiness,

I feel it too.

It is very strong.

Taking us all in, deep, very deep.

We will get out of it, but then we will not talk about this,

We will bury it deep inside our hearts, too scared to take it out and show the world.

We will still talk, just superficial.

There will not be any long walks and carefree laughing, smiling, teasing and our secrets.

Maybe we will find the happiness or at least feel like we found it.

The freedom will have new definition.

 Definition chosen by the society, in a square impenetrable box.

Maybe some of us will break through it someday;

They will define things for them,

They will know what true freedom is and how to be really happy.

I will see real smile on their faces and the laughter out of their throats will not be constricted.

A few dreams will reach their destination.

I am happy for that and hoping for that.

If even one of them finds the dream, it will be success.

Success for all of us.

But now the things are gloomy and clouded;

They are enveloped in the sadness of what is lost, unable to see what is in front.

We are directionless, the paths are new and thorny.

The fog is thick; forcing us to hold on to whatever comes into our hands.

We are reaching out for anything that gives us the hope,

One day we will find the light, and some of us will reach out to it to go out.

The small flicker of courage and hope will blossom into a strong fire;

The hypnotizing fog will not be able to hold us any longer.

Breaking the chains will not be easy, my dear friends,

But maybe we will be able to do it.

Right now, all I see is the broken fragments of our dreams;

They hurt like the broken glass shards slicing through our naked flesh.

The words, when they are spoken, promises that they are losing the fire in them.

The shine is fading away, just like life leaves the dying eyes.

No one cares about your and my dreams,

We have to keep it protected.

Pretend that you forgot and forgave;

They will see your broken smiles with their weak eyes, 

Sounds of shattering dreams falling upon the deaf ears.

It happened to many, happens to many, will happen to many;

Just let them think they won, we will win our will back someday.

Just keep calm and get ready.

The dreams will roar one day and you will be the only one alive on the battlefield.

You will find yourself.

You will win.

Some day.

One day.

I hope, we will and so will I.

Booze called travel

Being a travel writer is all what I have dreamed of becoming since I started watching Food Safari. Yes, food was the main source of inspiration and like many others in India, the exposure to western culture brought lust for something- wanderlust. It wasn’t just simple touristing for me. I never dreamt of getting an extravagant hotel booked, with a pre-planned tour to the city. 

Like the rest of the youth population in India, I worship bunny too. He lived a life he wanted on his terms and gave us all new life goals *(for all those who don’t know who bunny is). To the detached and confused youth, the life of a runaway vagabond sound like heaven with its own financial perks. So, since that movie, I haven’t stopped mailing my Curriculum Vitae Fox Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, and National Geograohic Traveller.

The magazine purchase, however rare it was, left me in the clutches of student poverty. The showaholic nature of mine grew worse as all I watched was travel shows, all day, every day. I knew about places I have never visited like the small shop that the host went in Vietnam. Traveloholic.

I started understanding that I always loved travelling, irrespective of my age. I analysed my childhood trips and tours with or without family and I knew that I can live travelling. It was no more the detached youth yearning to run away. I now knew that travelling made me human again while liberating my thoughts.

I learnt new emotions, new stories, how to make people happy with the little you have. Too much beauty brought tears to my eyes, I know where to place the camera, and it looked good even blurred. I wasn’t a confident teenager, leaving behind my glorious days of unabashed confidence in my childhood. So I knew that writing is my only option.

There was a lot still undiscovered, near the places people knew about. No one was interested in those and it shocked me to core. I started to discover places, no big places, but the small ones which can make you feel human again. I wonder whether people will be interested in reading about those. Will they pay you for telling them about the hidden gems near them?

I do not know, but I dream of finding the answer to this.

*Bunny is the main character of a Bollywood movie Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. He worked as an intern for Fox Traveller and later got a job as a videographer and eventually a host for his own travel show. A song Ilahi takes us with Bunny as he travel places in all over the world and eats good food.

In search of a Home

I always wondered how it would feel like to belong to someplace or someone.

To people who belong to someplace;

It was always fascinating to listen to people with similar characters in their each story.

When they can proudly say that they know their area inside out and everyone know them in the alley.

They can take you in the shop and hold a conversation with the shopkeeper for five minutes straight.

 They will know the names and ages of all the kids who grew up with them and are growing up in front of them.

To people who belong to someone;

They will always have secrets, they are hidden from the world, but their home knows it all.

They never have this urge to make people understand them as their home will always understand them.

You will find them tired of arguments as they argue a lot with the person they feel home at.

They always have a reason to skip a social event as they have someone waiting for them back at home.

People who don’t have a home;

They are home to everyone, temporarily.

They will treat, serve and take a leave, because they know how it feels to not have a home.

They will stand at the edge just so to catch the homeless from falling into the endless pit of despair they once fell into.

They feel so lonely, but I dare you to find a single moment when they are not smiling.

Because nobody wants a cold and broken home. 

People don’t need to know, they never tried and never will.

What is the point of telling them that in the world where buying house is easy, they are desperately searching for a home.

Their heart is filled with memories and the people in those memories have forgotten them with time.

People don’t remember them because they don’t belong to them, they never will.

There are heartbreaks at every corner, for they failed miserably in the search of a home.

They are now called wanderers, for they have no hope of finding a home again.

The feeling of restlessness they felt earlier is now just a sensation that will remain forever, they have learnt to live with it.

They are passionate for everything yet cold towards everything.

To the outside world, they are heartless, but they fail to understand that they are just homeless.

No curtains

There are 99 things that I can say about this society but I will just share what happened to me when I was travelling in a train. Indian Railways take the whole India from one place to other and it’s a people’s medium. You will agree with me for the fact that we find India in Indian Railways. 

So what happened to me was funny to the extent that I barely noticed that it was actually a gift from our past generations to us. Getting a seat in the train to my city from Bhopal becomes more competitive during the tatkal hours as there is one train thrice a week. So, Tatkal tickets aren’t easy to book as there are at least 20 people fighting for one seat. After a lot of planning, praying and spending more money later, I got a seat and was ecastic to go to home.

The date of journey was there and I boarded the train and imagine my shock as there was not even a single woman in my coach. Praying that the toilets will not make me puke and there will not be any creepy stares, I went on to sleep. Hoping for the best, after my beauty sleep I rivalled a racoon after a few hours. Oh, there I spotted a creepy stare- frowned a bit-and returned the stare. 

The no-woman compartment ensured that there were no other distraction and I suffer alone. So rather than suffering, I chose sleeping. Sleeping straight for 12 hours gave the much needed relief and time pass. As the train neared the destination, everyone started changing their cloths. I forgot to mention that my co-passengers were mostly in Lungi and shirts. The lungis acted as curtain for the men and they changed into formal pants and jeans. 

I could have chosen the curtain idea too, but as I wasn’t in a position to do that so I took out my cloths and climbed out of my seat. It was almost hysterical that the men who changed their pants in front of me with just a lungi to hide them were looking at me as if I just murdered someone in cold blood. Shrugging off their reactions I took the cloths and entered the stink-room to change.

When I exited the bathroom, people looked at me in bewilderment or if I rephrase that correctly- shocked. They were snickering when I got back into my seat and I had to ask what the matter was. Viola, the snickering was gone and everyone turned towards the windows.

I laugh a lot whenever I remember that incident, but it also made me think deeply that exactly what caused it. Was it the society’s years of brainwash or it was simply too naïve and childish of me to want the change of clothes after a day’s journey? I haven’t reached the answer yet, I think someday I will, maybe a decade or more later. But will the things be different when I finally understand the reason behind the snickers and the shocked expressions? I don’t know.