It is around noon. Day two in Pondicherry. My body still cranky from the night spent at the beach. A few abrasions on my back, my neck extremely itchy, head a bit heavy. I head out of my hotel, with my usual gear, by small back bag with my writing pad, the book I was reading ‘Illusions’, my diary, a few pens, mint, and my camera.
Extremely hungry, I walk into the same café by the beach. Without thinking much, I order a glass of Radha and a fruit salad.
The journey starts.
Plug in, plug out. No you cannot plug out. You pull the damn plug, but the music won’t stop. You realize it’s not a fucking joke, it is not fantasy, it is not a scenic dream, and it is not a trick your mind is playing on you. You have little control. I had little control, which is to say I had no control whatsoever.
While waiting for the order to arrive, I walked up towards the rocks along the beach. Instantly, I wanted to fall off into the sea. Just head first into the unknown waters, plunge into the shapeless fathoms of the churning ocean. Ever since I was a child, I had this thing of standing on a cliff and falling off. Lunging forward into the chasm. I always had this magnetic pull towards the endless free fall. It is not suicidal. Hell no. I am not the suicidal kinds. Neither am I regressive and self defacing as otherwise perceived by a fall. There has always been an unexplained fascination of falling into the infinite. Dissolution by absolution!
The waiter called me, “Sir, your order is here”.
I walked back to my table. I wolfed through the freshly cut fruits with gulps of the radha. I recalled all of yesterday and the mesmerizing things that were happening to me. The music of the flute and the swirling images of Radha were still rushing in front of my eyes. Just that it seems to have embedded alongside the roar of the sea.
I decided in my head… I will not sleep on the beach. No way.
I call up my best friend and tell him about Radha juice and the night spent at the beach. We laugh our lungs out. We make all kind of jokes about Radha juice and wreck our minds around possibility of Krishna juice, Kansa juice, Balram juice, and every other fucking juice in the cosmic blender. In that moment, on call with him, I felt like I was eighteen again. Like when I first met him… carefree and extremely disoriented from this world.
This moment, the mist and young child-like sunlight
Is what I got, and I love it so
No aching memories, no troubled spot,
This moment is all I got
I bring this world alive, spin it by the tide
I can smile now, a resting, unhindered smile
I really don’t have to lie, for this moment is all I got
The wind blows and greets my eager cheeks
I say ‘hello’ and let it be
For this moment is all I got
I strum and it sounds out of tune,
I smile, for this what I got… this moment and my hilarious guitar
I write and enjoy the moments I have got.
I feel extremely happy on writing the above piece of poetry. Something simple and bouncing with carefree joy. Like good old days. Like my childhood. Like the conceded youth. Like me. I feel.
I take in the moment. Feel great. Over to life!
I hail in the waiter again for a repeat of the Radha juice and while ordering ask him how is the juice prepared. The waiter tells me that it is prepared by mixing the pulp of a flower named Radha with lemon juice. He does not disclose the concoction ratio. I probe but he doesn’t budge.
However, I was more interested in knowing about the Radha flower. All about it. How does it look like? What color is it? How big is it? How beautiful is it? Where can I find it? All about the flower; about the glorious flower. My interest in flowers until this moment has been restricted to hibiscus, rose and parijatak and that too purely because of the mythical stories I have heard about these flowers as a child. I haven’t researched flowers beyond these three… let alone actively pursue.
To my utter, and I must admit almost childlike frustration, the waiter had no great detail to share except that he told me that the Radha flower is blue in color and grows on trees or shrubs. Yes my genius. Flowers and I mean all flowers, except water flowers, grow on trees or shrubs. They don’t grow on our heads or on space shuttles. Mr Einestine. Damnnnnnnnnnnnn!
I enquire where I can find someone who knows about Radha flower. The waiter was absolutely clueless. Nonetheless, I order one more glass of Radha and decide to chase this absurdly named flower later and indulge in some more sea gazing.
But I couldn’t gaze for much long. The flower was making me extremely restless or to say the quest was making me restless. I am a guy for quests. Pursuit!
I am at my fucking best when I am chasing windmills, chasing truth, chasing the elusive self, chasing what has been perennially hidden, chasing troubles, chasing disappointments, chasing happiness, chasing mirages, chasing realities, chasing cockroaches, chasing butterflies, chasing thrills, chasing things that kill, chasing the oldest ailment and savoring the pill, chasing the entertaining thought, chasing her about whom we all forgot, chasing the rainbow, chasing wounds that do not show, chasing love and everything else.
The wave chaser! Yes that’s me.
I ask around for directions to Auroville. The township conceptualized in the middle of a forest, on the outskirts of Pondicherry. The abode of the “Matrimandir” the sanctum sanctorum of Shri Aurobindo and the revered Mother—built on the central thought of humanity and peace.
I realize I need to get mobile. I cannot hope to travel around without transportation. I search for the nearest two-wheeler rental shop and hire a worn-down Kinetic Honda for five days and fuel it up to the brim.
Yes, baby… now we are talking. Motorized nirvana.
I take the two wheeled pixie for a ride around town and when I am comfortable with the reliability of break’s response time, I switch on the afterburners and hit the highway.
The weather was pleasant and I asked directions to reach Auroville. A left turn from the highway led straight into the lanes that eventually blended into forest and a few bends and eight kilometer further I was parked my scooter in the Auroville parking lot.
I get inside the gate only to learn that the entry to the visiting point of Matrimandir was closed for the day and I need to come the next day. Nevertheless, I entered inside the forest area where there is the Auroville canteen and a few of the Ashram’s shops selling all kinds of organic wares including incense sticks, spiritual books, house decoration items, organic tea, ayurvedic herbs, etc. I get straight to the canteen and order a vegan salad along with lemonade.
Here I should take a moment to share with the larger world my utmost devotion and fascination with food. Yes! You heard me right, Food! Food in fact has been the biggest driver of my life. In fact I am at my best when I am chasing food. Not for thought, but purely for my stomach. No bigger Nirvana than food 🙂
After tanking up on some energy, I wander into the shops that are selling the organic-spiritual ware and at once love what I am surrounded with. These are the stuff a writer’s dreams are made of. Bright colors all around in the shop, the air filled with almost overpowering natural incense, beautiful wooden decorative items. One couldn’t ask for more. Can one?
I pick up some incense stick packs for my home and dear ones. Memorabilia of sorts. You bring back a certain something of a place with you. You steal some magic from a place you are visiting when you get something home from there. I can feel how Neil Armstrong must have felt when he brought back tiny pieces of the moon. You recreate that place at home.
Well after loitering around for an hour in Auroville, in the middle of the jungle. I felt hungry, as usual, my hunger strikes, like the cymbal stroke of a speed metal song, and incessantly I hunger. I get on my scooter and ride around the jungle lane to find some nice place to eat. I spot an Italian bakery to my left. I park the scooter at its gate and walk in.
On entering I sense that perhaps I am the only Indian in that place. The joint was buzzing with foreign nationals. Various European dialects being spoken. I could her a few Germans germinating, a few French franchising, a few Italians italicizing, a few Polish polishing, a few Czechs, a few Slovaks. I was the only brownie among the apple pie. I walked up to the counter and order a slice of the mushroom pizza and a hot jar of honey hibiscus tea.
I am handed over my order in about five minutes and asked to seat myself on the benches in the garden outside the counter area. I merrily devour the pizza and pour in the tea into my endless pit of a stomach.
When with food I feel safe. Like I am in the arms of God. I feel as if beautiful angels are dancing around and rose petals are being showered over me by the demi-gods including the usual list of Indra, Varuna, Agni, and the mythical white elephant Airavata. I decide I will soak myself in food. In good food. In good organic food. This place is a heaven for someone like me. Replete with bakeries, coffee shops, tea joints, vegan food joints. Heaven!
Who said gluttony is a sin? Bring him on. Dare I make the statement? Food often is better than sex and good food is often better than good sex. The underscore being on the word often.
I take a few snaps of the beautiful garden and then take a few more. All around I am surrounded by colors. With my favorite color, Green, being the larger backdrop. Reds, violets, gold and more. The flowers filled the air with beautiful aroma and life for once seemed slow and simple. The eagerness of the foreign travelers is amazing. They look at your country in new light. They appreciate it. Seldom do we appreciate our own land, appreciate what we got.
With that thought in my head, I head for the Auroville beach.
The Auro beach is a sand beach. I sit by the beach and there is hardly anyone around. A few street urchins playing around and a dog loitering by the shore. Not much by way of company. I feel easy. There is quite. There is the sea and her roar. There is unison with my own thoughts. There is abundance of love within and without.
I look towards the sky and smile like a village idiot… hoping that someone or something up there would smile back. But there was only the breeze brushing against my face. It felt right. I felt right. Right as ray.
The memory of the hurt was on its final way out… taking its last few footsteps out of my door. I was feeling purged by life’s miracle.
The phoenix-like reality of consciousness.
There is not much of us left at the end and whatever is left is this magic. When our dust and bones wait for the solitary rain, they too long like us. Our dust and bones long for the horizon to come forth and embrace them in everlasting cessation and shapelessness. After we recede into the ocean of non-time and non-space, sound of our now beating heart remains forever and forever in this world. Perhaps the only part of us that never shifts shape, our sound, our dhwani, the dhwani of our beating hearts, like the dhwani of the flute is still heard in our dreams like a harbinger of victory, like the dhwani of a new born, like the dhwani of Vedas recited by ancient gurus, like the dhwani of the sea. The composite dhwani of all that ever was, is and will be.
I looked outwards into the future, looked at the next few days and nights in Pondicherry and the adventurous journey that lay ahead. Searching for the Radha flower, searching for my true identity, searching … and then suddenly I heard a sound… Booooooooooom!
It was thunder and lightning in the middle of ocean. I knew it was time for me to get going. For my days ahead in Pondicherry are going to boom in my head for ever and ever.
Before I left, I heard a voice, it was the Wanderer—“Bala, you managed well on your own today. I intent not to disturb your day. Tomorrow we ride together. Tomorrow we start our little search. We head out for searching Radha. Sleep well tonight.”
I looked into the sky and it started to drizzle. I quietly walked away to the parking and rode my scooter back to my hotel in Pondicherry. I loved this day.