Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Into the Wild:

I have just finished reading this book by Jon Krakauer – Into the Wild and to put it simply, my mind feels like it’s in a whirlpool! It’s a story about a 24 years old man, Chris McCandless who was well educated and came from a well to do family. He was idealistic, passionate and excessively independent. After graduation, he gave all his money to charity, gave up all his belongings and left his family to travel the whole of America for 2 years…hitchhiking and sleeping with the tramps making friends along the way. In 1992, he went on this ultimate adventure to the Alaska wilderness on his own and to live off the land, but never returned. His decomposed body was found much later.

Okay so why is my mind in such a chaos?? If this guy were alive, he would have been about my age today. In 1992, when I was in college I was swamped under by existential dilemmas and questioned everything around me. I had this excessively independent streak in me. My dreams, day and night were about escaping from all this…to just pick up a bag and vanish without a trace…to live in the jungles, mountains, streams. Hence each and every word in this book brings back my truth and I not only understand but also appreciate each and every thought of this man.

Some excerpts:

Chris McCandless – ‘The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure….The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. And once you get accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon…..You will see things and meet people and there is much to learn from them. And you must do it economy style, no motels, do your own cooking, as a general rule spend as little as possible and you will enjoy it much more immensely.’

‘Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate Freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose Home is The Road.’

Everett Ruess – ‘…I shall always be a lone wanderer of the wilderness. God how the trail lures me. You cannot comprehend its resistless fascination for me. After all the lone trail is the best…..I’ll never stop wandering. And when the time comes to die, I’ll find the wildest, loneliest, most desolate spot there is. I have always been unsatisfied with life as most people live it. Always I want to live more intensely and richly.’

John Haines – ‘I faced in myself a passionate and tenacious longing – to put away thoughts forever, and all the trouble it brings, all but the nearest desire, direct and searching. To take the trail and never look back. Whether on foot, on snow shoes or by sled, into the summer hills and their late freezing shadows – a high blaze, a runner track in the snow would show where I had gone. Let the rest of mankind find me if it could.’

Our thoughts might have been the same but I lacked something that he had an overload of; and I still lack it – that is Courage.
The life of Chris MaCandless is how life should be – passionate and totally Free. Live the life you always want to. Die young but die happy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Challenging God:

I wanted to take advantage of this impromptu break from work and cooked up some grand plans for a month long travel. Looked here and there, asked friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends who were travel freaks – but all were caught up with something or the other.
So my grand plans dwindled down to a week’s break in Goa but K was off to her mom’s place for a whole month and forbade me to come.
Then I decided on Bangalore but S&R just had a baby, so couldn’t force them go gallivanting with me.
That left me with Bombay. But S with whom I was planning to stay was shifting back to his parent’s place and N with whom I was planning to go on a Shayadri trek tore his ligament.

Clearly God was against me! Still I decided to challenge Him. I went to Dehradun to visit my college friend after 7 years. And what do I get there….days of constant rain! I looked up at heaven and could almost hear God’s laughter. My plans of going to Mussouri or Dhanaulti just vanished. We did however manage to sneak out to Rishikesh, Haridwar and a tiny slice of tranquility called Chila for a day. It was like game of cat and mouse with the rains…always managing to get out of a place the moment the rains started.

I think by the last day, God finally took pity on me. It poured incessantly the whole of Tuesday…thick grey sheet covering the sky. Finally in the afternoon the rain stopped. My friend and I immediately took advantage of the situation and stepped outside and got the most fantastic view ever. The whole range of hills from Mussouri to Dhanaulti was covered with thick layers of snow… seemed we were in Himalayas proper and not the foothills. The setting sun peeked out and the pure golden rays lighted up the snowed peaks. The colours slowly changed from orange to pink and everything around simply turned breathtaking (my only regret, I did not have my camera in hand that time).

I saluted the heavens and He smiled back turning all the clouds pink. The game between us was finally over.
You see, now that I am back, its pure sunshine here and in the hills as well!