the one where jack puts down his lantern.

November 6, 2010 § 6 Comments

four cities, six schools, eight houses and twenty one years down, i do not have a home.

apparently, there is no way of forming an attachment to a city if you insist on viewing yourself as a perennial passer-through.

i’ve spent near on four years in one place, largely left to my own devices, unimpeded by either good judgment or parental concern, so one would imagine that i’d have poked around a good deal and would have generally Experienced Experiences and Made Memories. but i haven’t. it’s curious, now that i think about it, and a little sad. apathy has always been the safer choice, but safety does not make for memories you want to hold on to.

i sit in an auto on the way back to college and i look out at the cliffs and the buildings and the sand and the train tracks and i think, how little i know you. everytime i look at you it feels like i am looking at you for the first time. in four years i should have walked around the old city and discovered the best lac bangle seller and eaten the best mawa kachori made by the best local-secret sweetmaker, and i should be on first name terms with all the tonga-ride chaps, but i am not. i live within spitting distance of the great indian desert, and do you know when the last time was that i was in sitting distance (note clever wordplay) of a camel? 2007. two thousand and goddamn seven.

i couldn’t recommend to you one sugarcane juice seller over another, and all ghevars are alike to me. if you wanted to find a little-known but awesome place to eat, i’d have to direct you to a lonely planet guide. i could not tell you cute stories about getting lost on summer afternoons in the winding lanes of the old town where satisfyingly wrinkled, turbaned and moustachio-ed chaps (of the sort much feted by national geographic) live, because i have never allowed myself to do as much.

if life is supposed to be about the living of it, what have i gained from all these years of moving around? it appears that the only thing i have gained is the ability to be completely unaffected by the moving around. apathy has become a way of life, and now there is no anchor. whither, visceral memories? will the smell of stale maggi call back images of  hostel to me, fifty years from now?

doom and gloom. doom and gloom.

as it turns out, though, life has a way of sneaking up on you in little hallmark-esque moments when you’ve dully come to the conclusion you don’t have one. like in those moments you are sitting in an auto late one wintry evening and you’re blinded by the tears that the cold wind is forcing from your eyes and the only way you know you’ve reached college is when you smell just that exact combination of cigarette smoke, alcohol, maggi and petrol in the air that instinct tells you equals Law Student.

when i close my eyes now and concentrate, i can recollect exactly what smell that is again, and i know that i will call it up with just the same ease, fifty years from now. but if you asked me to describe it to you, i’d throw my hands up and i’d say well that’s impossible, isn’t it? you just had to be there to know it.

you just had to be there.

…and that feeling right there is exactly what i’ve been waiting for.

four cities, six schools, eight houses and twenty one years down, i may not have a home, but it looks like i just might be ready to find one.

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§ 6 Responses to the one where jack puts down his lantern.

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