Saturday, June 12, 2010

Picture imperfect

Perspective is one of those rare things that only gets better with age. From the raw seeds that it splits into two from, it grows with time into this giant colossus of a tree with, hopefully, a lot of juicy fruits hanging from its various weather beaten branches. With every drought and every rain, one can only hope that the tree of perspective matures, gets stronger and penetrates its roots deeper into the soil of our psyche.

The reason my mind drifted to such random thoughts, was because a friend shared a photograph of a scenic landscape on Twitter and expressed her wish to live there forever, if she could. Now, as much as I do not doubt her intentions one atom, I started thinking of my own hopes of a similar nature from not so long ago. I thought of that familiar feel of being able to just detoxify and detach myself from the tech-heavy, news-heavy and mostly, boredom-heavy life of excruciating mediocrity I sometimes find myself in. I still preserve wonderful memories of those few times I was able to get away from the hubbub and din of the city’s megalomaniacal tentacles into the silent greens connecting two concrete jungles. My mind is still afresh with inspirational images of babbling brooks rippling away in shady wilderness, almost mocking the superficial existence I lead in what is defined as ‘the good life’. On my week long trip to a speck of a place called Lakkavalli, about an hour’s drive from the city of Shimoga, I still remember feeling like a moronic foreigner as I gawked in wonder at the small tea shop that stood lazily on the edge of a breathe taking gorge overlooking what was known as the Rajah seat – ‘the seat of a King’. I recall walking through the noisy markets in the evenings that were filled with the ever shifting fragrances of a dozen flowers – primarily jasmine. I remember looking at the simple folk there – the friendly cobbler, the affectionate pan wallah, the local priest who knew everyone and whom everybody knew – all characters from a quintessential Malgudi day. Yes, I remember saying to myself then, I can totally live here. This is it.

On the fourth day of my visit to the aforementioned paradisiacal delight, I, for no particular reason, started missing the Internet. The yearning to click on random websites and continuously check if any of my online friends were around to chat began to grow. I found myself being plagued with this nagging feeling that the same gorge, the same market, the same tea shop and the same aromatic essences – now seemed a tad jaded. They all now seemed – boring. People were too laid back, too simple for my taste. There was no traffic to fend off or no honking to put up with. The evenings were filled with the annoying cacophony of crickets and other unidentifiable bugs instead. The buzz of the mosquitoes at dusk drove me crazy with itches all over and self assigned slaps across my cheeks. The silence of the valley after dark was plain torture. My need for that undecipherable variable grew with each passing hour. I needed, most than anything else, that wide open space of an absolute void. Yes – that addictive nature of a city’s throbbing mendacity was aching to rush back into my now healthier veins and lungs. I had to get back to my toxins. And so – after just six days in Lakkavalli – I took the first bus out of there. The moment I coughed from the unholy smoke of an ill mannered passerby at Bangalore’s central bus station – I knew I was home. Ah, bliss, here I am.

Maybe this is the way it is, I wonder. For folks like me. City-bred addicts who can certainly appreciate and love a natural setting like any other sane human, but only if it came with an expiration date. Metroholics who love that clean feel of being an innocent child playing in Mother Nature’s welcoming bosom as long as we are not fed too much of her milk. We need our poison too. We need the vile that is served at our over-greased snack stalls in the name of taste bud amplifiers and fashion statements. Yes, we need our sickness back.

I truly wonder if that perfect picture of life we crave for is actually defined in its imperfection. The moment it gets too askew, we find an obvious distraction. And once that gets a tad cloudy, we find a way to weasel our way back into our personal hells. The next time I am in Lakkavalli (whenever that is!) I hope I can track down that tea-shop wallah atop that gorge overlooking the King’s seat and ask him this. Maybe then there will be some clarity in this bizarre definition of perfection I have lead thus far.

Hmm…I now wonder how I’d frame that question though…

2 reflections:

Ravishankar Haranath said...

Precisely this is the experience with most of us. I had been to a wonderful, mist-covered tea estate in 'Malakkiparai' on TN-Kerala border. That amazing, heavenly place started boring me after 2 days!!

We are addicted to Poison :-P

ShaK said...

@Ravishankar - Oh indeed. It is ironic that we are always dreaming of this non-toxic, unpolluted and quiet dream of a place and yet when we get there some day, our restless self just cannot stop feeling restless. Does this highlight our strength or our weakness?

Thanks for the words, Ravi.