Do you have one? A charging port for the soul? Something that lifts your spirit and mood and everything else and makes you feel better in general? It could be some place, something, it could be someone.
I have multiple. People, places, objects and some activities.
Among these, I’d probably rank my ancestral town-village among the top three. It is, hands down, the best place ever to exist. It’s Santiniketan, some 200-odd kilometers to the north of Kolkata. I like it because of what it is, I think. There’s greenery there, but then so is my campus. I could wax poetic about avenues shaded by massive trees arching across them, but Kolkata is full of them. I could say it’s because I have a home there, but I have a room of my own in college, and a home in Kolkata. I wish I could nail it down to a particular factor, to one thing that I could point at and say, “This thing. This is what makes this place special.” On second thoughts, I don’t. Maybe if I distill it down to exactly what is the allure of the place, I wouldn’t find it as captivating anymore.
There, I made sketches of trees, and took pictures of a river. I went to an ethnic village market that I really disliked,because that was an exposition of stuff you could get from any roadside hawkers in Kolkata, being sold at ridiculous prices to rip off unsuspecting visitors. I took long walks, read a bit and played with my younger cousin brother. I relaxed, and had fun. It was a good experience.
Indeed, this entire vacation was good.
You see, I am supposedly an electrical engineer, by vocation, or so the college would have you believe. And I, not to put too fine a point on it, suck at it. My grades aren’t too good, in fact they are on the verge of bad, and my interest in the discipline leaves a lot to be desired. Let’s just say I don’t really like it. Needless to say, academics-wise, my semesters are pretty glum, though the people and activities more than make up for it. This summer, we had PS (a sort of internship program that counts towards my grades) which let me work in my fields of interest, and helped me cheer up considerably, at least as far as work and academia goes.
Anyhow, we were talking of places. So I went for a walk in Santiniketan, one night after dinner. It was silent, in the way nighttime is silent, chirping crickets and rustling trees, and a very delicate whoosh, as the wind blew by me. It had rained, not long ago. The unpaved roads were still muddy, fresh bicycle tracks imprinted in them. There was an unsteady drip-drip-drip accompanying me all the way around, as the trees shook off their leaves in the slow breeze. I didn’t see a single person out there other than a couple of security guards, engrossed in some chitchat of their own.
Non-urban air has a kind of clarity to it that’s difficult to describe. But it is dusty, especially in the evening and night. Just after rains, it acquires a kind of… well, it’s hard to describe. You just don’t notice it anymore, except when the breeze rises. The trees were just dark shadows, the branches spreading silhouettes against a clear sky. It was a moonless night. I was alone, on the road, with my thoughts, and it felt so glorious. And it nagged me a little too, the fact that I had to be alone with my thoughts. But it felt good, which is what matters, I guess.
Santiniketan, literally translated, means abode of peace. It lives up to its name. And I haven’t yet found out what makes it so peaceful. Maybe that’s the frame of mind I’ve conditioned myself to be in, that I’ll be zen-like once I’m there. I guess the point here is that for inner peace, outer peace is necessary too.
Fairly obvious, I’ll agree.
In other news, go watch Dunkirk. It is a really good movie. It’s unmistakably Nolan, though it’s different from everything he’s done so far. I won’t talk any more about it, other that it’s probably one of the best expositions I’ve seen, till date, of the filmmaker’s craft.
And in the end…
This probably deserves to be more than a footnote, but Chester Bennington killed himself. That man meant a lot, I think, to my entire generation. He was my gateway to a lot of music, and it’s sad to see him go like this. It might have been the way out he needed, but not what he deserved. I have followed Linkin Park’s music for seven years now. I heard them shift to electronica, and the try to make a pretty unsuccessful transition to their original sound. I liked their last album, though it was no Hybrid Theory. Few bands had so definitively carved their place in the pantheon of music, laying claim to an entire genre.
Anyway, In The End was the first song that I had memorised. I loved it. I still do. I’m running though the words in my head. My favourite song was The Catalyst. It’s sad, the way he passed. I won’t quote any lyrics, I will not present you with that kind of a cliché. I hope he is in peace now.