travel

An excerpt from ‘The Night’

It had started getting darker already as we reached there. But there was hassle and excitement nevertheless. We had reached the destination where we had meant to be, even though it had caused a few punctured Jeeps, some lost bags of luggage and some cases of cold. Now that I remember, it wasn’t all gloomy, despite the sickening silence only broken by our vehicles with stupid kids singing sick Bollywood songs and the sounds of unnecessary giggling.

Some of us had landed running, trying to occupy better pieces of land to erect the camps. While the ones, laid back, had automatically taken up the duty of unloading the luggage, the only other job left to take care of.

Putting up the tents was a tough job, the land was rough and unsteady, hands were numb and there was no ounce of light. While I could look up and find perfectly shaped galaxies, they wouldn’t help me locate which of the tent was ours.

Making bonfire was even tougher. With no fuel and no lighters, some broken bark of trees and little match sticks were trying really hard to cooperate but were only adding to misery until cooking oil was used as fuel. Rich resource was depleting somewhere, I could see.

The hustle bustle had completely died down by 8 in the evening. You would think it was already mid-night. If we were in Karachi, we would have laughed till we died at ourselves for dying so early. But this was a grave situation. No one was asleep of course –though I am not entire sure saying ‘of course’- but no one was in their senses, they had been knocked by the cold. As one of my teachers has once said, ‘If you peed here, it would turn into ice’, I think the metaphor suited perfectly for this situation.

 

But somewhere there was life. Because I remember us playing cards in one of the tents- all cuddled up with a phone-torch hanging up at the ceiling of the tent, flickering its light to and fro like a lit-up pendulum, cards laid down on the mat- making little noise (as our faces too were covered), dropping the cards after every other pass as they kept slipping from woollen gloves, only trying to sound normal under the circumstances. And that was the moment –only one of those moments- when I thought ‘This is real life. This is the life when you say YOLO.’

Faith had been restored.  

 

(Oct 27, 2013)

 

How you might want to spend your four years at college

My four years at college are about to end. There are so many things I did, and many things that I should’ve done and so many of them, I’d still want to do while some time still remains. So here’s how you can make the best of four years of your college.

So while you go to college to study, remember to live your life while you study. Go crazy, do experiments, break rules, make friends and take a 360 degree turn, trust me, you’ll love the feeling of it.

And live in dorm, or hostel, whatever you call it. Life would be tougher that way, but interesting. So next time, when you eat from mess, you’ll know how mom’s cooking feels when you get back home. Sharing a roommate would tell you the reality of life (trust me on this, realities would unveil). Sharing is not easy, but you would get used to it for the life later. So decorate your room for the 4 good years, make collages, take pictures, celebrate mid-night birthdays, throw some parties and crash some weddings, order at mid-night, try to cook new stuff and DO NOT worry.

Go and break some rules. Surpass curfew timings, write petitions against what your conscience does not agree to, disagree and discuss, disagree and persuade, disagree and convince. Protest against the wrongs and break the rules again if you have to make things right. But don’t get caught!

 

And don’t worry if you’re alone when you initiate, trust me, the word spreads like fire here and people would join you. Make a good move: even if people don’t recognize it today, at least you have a good story to narrate it to your kids.

While you’re at it, expand your humanitarian side. Appreciate art. Listen to all genres of music, watch theatres  visit museums and art galleries and most of all, read books. Save one fifth of your pocket money for books, visit book stores, join book clubs, read about books and discuss books with people. Don’t leave your room without carrying a book in your bag, for what books tell you, even your best friend hides sometimes.

Develop a literate personality. Read on religion, art, science and politics. Participate in discussions and debates; attend seminars and conferences, for they are a treasure of college life. And don’t forget to disagree -It reflects that you have a point of view that you fear to share.

And yes, be adventurous! Make spontaneous plans. Call friends and let them know about your program. It doesn’t matter where you want to go, if you’re passionate, the road will take you there somehow.

So wander off. Pack a bag, take a camera and follow the light. Use all modes of transportation: ride a cycle, take a rickshaw, travel in bus and experience a Ching Chi. Explore places that were lost in time and tell the world about it. This habit of travelling would never let you lose yourself even if people think you’re lost.

But don’t fear, for fear takes away the thrill. So ride on the most dangerous rides you ever felt have been invented, lie in the middle of the road at night, bathe in the 3 am rain of a January night, climb on the roof of a stair-less building, spend your summer break in the hottest of lands and winter in the coldest of valleys. You’d know the beauty of life, the splendour of nature, and who knows you might even find God!

And about those college events, participate and play an active role. Not for the sake of those I-am-in-every-event-just-so-you-know photos but to put something worthwhile in your resume. Be a Manager, Director or whatsoever they offer, but make sure no one is taking any advantage out of your work. And don’t forget to resign publicly when they do. They should know who they’re messing with!

Be a fun-sport. Go to social events, enjoy parties, socialize, have a crush or two (or many) and have the time of your life. Play sports. Join basketball team or football, hockey or cricket team, but keep playing. It’ll keep you in the mood of spirit. Go for long walks early in the morning or late at night. Manage a company of a friend if you can sometimes, because that would give you an entirely different perspective of what you usually experience alone. And Oh, don’t forget to play foosball. It’s a great game, takes all your miseries away- a bad paper, a missed class, an absent mark, a missed chance or maybe a broken heart, foosball is the solution.

For the purpose of coming here, take challenging courses and witty teachers, go to library and come back at 12 am. Take notes, talk to teachers and don’t forget to group-study. It’s miraculous. Not only in terms of learning, but trust me, it does wonders. The discussions that follow the group studies never get old to catch up to. Be a nerd during exams. You wouldn’t want to care what clothes you’re wearing during your exams because nobody does. I’ve seen people who forget to wash their face and brush their teeth, or maybe they don’t get time for it because they were doing some early morning rote learning. As long as you get a decent grade, that’s all what matters.

And while we’re talking about studies, beware of the mother of all diseases: Procrastination. Not being obstinate about it, but everyone does: an assignment submission, a report deadline, case compliance or daily readings, I know you would procrastinate. So keep yourself ready for pulling out some nighters. Stock on some caffeine; get your tools ready to stay awake all night during the last part of the semester and meet your deadlines.

And well, get decent grades because it sucks to have a bad GPA. You might say that it doesn’t bother you or you’ll get a job nevertheless, but dude, it shows on your resume for the rest of your life. So while you enjoy the best four years of life, never get the three letters out of your mind. But wait, don’t panic! Also, please don’t drop. (My heart dies a little every time I hear someone drop out of college).

 

(March 18, 2013) 

 

 

Of vivid imagination

It only seems natural to write the way you imagine things, but it never comes out on paper the way you would want it to. The easiest thing to write about, I think is your opinion. It is based on a judgment and while it may be right or wrong, it is yours at the end of the day.  What is most difficult to write about is your imagination because I think it seldom comes out the way you want it to be seen or the way you have seen it. And although one would say that what does it matter, it’s yours too at the end of the day, but no it’s not. What you’ve seen is different from what you’ve produced and making the difference between the two minimal is where lies your satisfaction. Thus, in the former, success is where your satisfaction lies while in the latter, it’s the other way round.

I want to write about the way I imagine things. The way my mind depicts them- of glimpses of weird imagery, of memories of people I’ve seen and those I‘ve never seen but always dreamt, of light from the trees and rivers, of many places neither seen nor visited. Often dreamt of is a boulevard that is covered with leaves that are green and yellow- a mixture of spring and fall- no matter what season it is, it looks like the mechanics of time does not work there because no matter when it is seen, it’s always a time before dusk when I can always listen to the birds chirping and peeping from one branch of the tree to another, that stand on both the sides of the road. I can even see the insects that crawl on the leaves as vividly as one sees them in their lawn. But the mystery of that long boulevard is the bench that lies right in the middle of it: white, made of wood that is always empty, like it’s waiting for a traveler to come by who would sit there giving the bench its due share for which it is placed in the long lonely way.

It looks like this boulevard is a part of some other world; some other universe where creatures such as humans do not exist that might pollute the beauty of it even by their thoughts, though it might have a way towards the humanly world at one end of it, the end from where I always look at it; while the other end of it that I can only see clearly while I squint is light- a light so powerful that it might absorb everything under its influence, a light that although is a total opposite of a Black hole but attracts things the same way a Black hole does; only, this light makes you want to come towards it and be a part of it as opposed to a Black hole which would suck you towards it even if you don’t want to be absorbed into it to be disappeared forever.

And while you look at that light at the other end of the boulevard, this long beautiful road seems like it had only been made to honor the illumination, like an attractive pavement that has been paved only to strike the magnificence of the destiny, or an attractive frame added to an already expensive work of art; the road with the trees from both sides- where time never changes, where birds keep chirping forever, where the lonely white bench stands there alone waiting for a passenger, where the insects keep crawling on the green and yellow leaves- only stays there in the hope that someday someone might travel on this path and honor its existence by getting to the other end it–The eternity.

 

(Jan 31, 2013)