National Highway III

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

Idiot’s guide to Zen living? At least I’m not reading Coelho. No don’t gimme that 🙂 [I mean Coelho]

Before daybreak, the brothers and me set out east, towards the mountains on the National Highway. En route, as the climb begins and the ‘definitely male’ vehicle shifts to a lower gear, daybreaks. The baby Sun is right on my face, the mountain air is clear, so is every thought.You don’t have to do anything, the sun rises. It is a silent spectacle. The climb ahead is tough with the highway rising and falling, but for the moment, I decide, let the sun beat down upon my face. Thoughts clear, empty minds filled with light.

It was raining heavily in the valley where I work, the dark highway stretched ahead. The weather was plain sexy, light drizzle. There are two things which set us free on the highway, speed and music. I fed the engine and we roared up the road. Jim Morrison started singing,

“You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher”

I shouted back,
“Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire”

The world seemed so unimportant inside the helmet. The bike’s powerful light stream lit the road around. Jim Morrison on Vocals, me too on Vocals. Another biker was coming down the road, he seemed so unimportant in the overall scheme of things. He was a few hundred metres away, when I dimmed my lamp. He kept on coming towards me with a dizzying headlight, uncertain what to do – maybe no one has done this to him in the National Highway. A little distance up the road, he too dimmed his lamp and as he passed, nodded towards me. I returned the gesture. I felt good, guess he too felt the same. There are a few things they teach you at home, sometimes its really nice to play around with those. Be good, do good. Life on the highway comes without choosing, how you live it, is definitely a choice.

Every road ends in the capital city, we put our collective heads outside the car and smelt the air. The rain was on leave for days then. By the Napier museum corner, we smelt the blooming spring, the smell of fried peanuts.

“Yeah, I know this smell”
“Onam?”
“hmm…”

Now that the rains were gone, we made an elaborate plan to go up the mountains in September, pitch a tent by the valley where cicadas never cry. They say the “end of all our elaborate plans”, the rains came back with thunder. It seems the state got its highest fall in seventeen years. Forget the mountains, going to the junction was difficult. We sat around in the rain, around the futility of building towers, drinking black tea, around the futility of making plans.
“It is the rain, enjoy it” someone said. When you are not waiting for it to get over, every rain is fun. Zen.

This is where it ends. In our side of the country, we have a train that runs parallel to the National Highway. It travels along the most beautiful places in the world. Hmm, the most beautiful places in the world. And there we are, after a long long time. Little Miss sunshine sits smiling, wondering. I am curious, making noises, wondering in the night. We know where the train is headed, not where we are. I miss it all, the lakes and lagoons that come and go, the sunset, the trains lights, the neon ambiance of the way side stations. It was only us and the immense kindness of the night. Warmth. Our moment in life had just begun.

The night’s kindness, somebody plays a flute somewhere, National highway and us.

4 Responses to National Highway III

  1. September 27, 2007 at 3:24 am #

    🙂

  2. September 27, 2007 at 11:33 am #

    Stunning images!

  3. October 4, 2007 at 1:50 pm #

    BVN,

    Morisson…..hmmm. 🙂

    Hope you are ok!

    Zen, Coelho and all. 😛

  4. October 12, 2007 at 6:40 am #

    “We know where the train is headed, but where we are” – lyrical. Great merging of highway and life. Its all the same, alle?

    That dimming was a message. and a nice one too. And dont give me too the Coelho. 🙂

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