A kind of a travelogue

Upanshu Mishra

(he writes)

I have earphones plugged to my ears. Loud music thrums on my eardrums. I feel deaf to the vicissitudes of the world. I won't say I'm lost in the beats or the electronic steps of the kind of music that is playing on my phone. But as I type ceaselessly my usual words come out of a jumbled nothing, become sentences and the whole thing turns into a labyrinth that may just make Hephaestus proud and cry like a baby at the same time. This is not a story. This not a journal, though I am on a journey. I shift my eyes away from my cellphone's screen and stare right ahead. I am not staring far away invoking a lost look. I've just kept my eyes peeled ahead and yet see nothing. I look dumb and I know it. For a moment I blink. I'm travelling! Its a train! And a huge arse is bent right in front of my eyes. Its so crowded. I suppress a belch and a fart. Funny I don't really feel like shitting and yet my body is eager to let one rip. May be its the air condition. Does that mean I like farting or smelling farts. Its one of those absurd existential questions that Kierkegaard did not answer.


It was thursday evening I believe. I was smoking what was supposed to be my last for the entirety of next week. I wasn't exactly ready to leave. I never am. It happens I think. There have to be people who don't like traveling. Visiting their relatives, in laws or the likes. The fact that you have to drag your bags behind you feeling the swollen backpack you had hastily packed just an hour before leaving weighing down on you. Every step grows heavy with the idea of greeting the kin, the one to be visited after such a long time. It is in those moments that you ask yourself: is this really necessary. Obviously by then its too late and you're completely at the mercy of fate. A buttock laid bare for the convenience of destiny that favours the bold, in this case your kin who holds a riding crop. All proverbially, of course. But I was to travel on friday. I was a whole night away! I could have started running just after crushing the butt, in a direction opposite to friday, so as to never encounter, a friday as horrible, as malignant, as ominous as the one lying in wait for the day to change.

But I didn't. I did crush the half smoked cigarette despondently. With an unreadable expression on my face paid the guy for the smoke and left. To never look back. Atleast for a week.

Oh what a long time to be leaving a city as precious as mine! Who cares about the stinking decaying garbage or the putrefying rat who probably died after eating that. Heaven and earth must I leave a city as beautifully rotten as this for the abhorrent mountainous lush of some other. Its like leaving your wife because she's old and decrepit for some skank with long legs. It is a sin! My dear God!

I knock on my door. My mind, soliloquizing my useless thoughts never registered as I reached home, got the door opened and plopped on the sofa. It was only after my mother's voice akin to a loud and disturbing alarm clock prodded me to get my things packed my mind woke. I was leaving tomorrow and may be, I hoped on that uneventful thursday night, this time it'd be fun.


The sun is not yet up. I am back on my phone. My fingers on a typing frenzy. Its as if I don't need to make them understand anything. Why can't everyone be good and just follow the example of fingers. They embody docile. You don't even need to instruct them. Something falls. I guess someone's awake. I blink once, look around. My fingers are completely still. How fascinating! Its her again. The train has slowed down. May be its a station and her stop. Good. No more crying kids. No more squabbling female voices. No more farting old men. Ah! Freedom at last. I may reach my destination in a few hours, I guess. Freedom indeed, but short-lived as it has always been.


What is a city?

The people as far as I am concerned. What about you?

May be its the people but its more than that I guess. On the train I'd realized that all the cities regardless of their geographic locations are same. But on the inside they're as different as a woman's breast is different from the other.

What's with that expression!

What can I say, your analogy caught me offguard. Anyhow, what's the plan this time around.

Frankly I have no idea.

Taking up on your line of thought, I'd say you're like a virgin in a room full of naked women and all of those have their backs turned to you.

Yeah... Right.

Cities on the other hand as you might have observed are a different ballgame altogether. No two cities have the same soul just as humans. Even if they are identical twins, they eventually turn out to be different.

I think it depends on the perception. It may look like something to you and something else to me. Like this lake right in front of us
I only see water and the pile of trash lying on this side. The rundown houses of old bhopal casting its reflection upon the algae infested waters. Yet another part, a dismally  silent part, of myself wants to look at the city proudly staring at me from that cliff. A city sequestered by its opulence from its elder counterpart. Am I talking sense?

Somewhat. Lets go have ice cream.


Its been raining since I got here. Its raining out here too. I can barely see the road ahead in this shower. Everything is locked. As if the raindrops have inside of them prisons where light shivers manacled. Her starving gaunt appearance mocked by the vegetative outgrowths of Vindhya and Satpura standing guard on the opposite sides. I furtively glance at them and it dawns upon me. I am the one being mocked. Trapped in a gargantuan raindrop, I am light and light is me. I try to move my hands to prove myself wrong. Light, I've only seen it as hot and persistent. He has always peeked through my windows to burn my legs for the sin of oversleeping. Light was a vengeful god back there. To see that as a weak little thing trapped in a drop.
I blink. My shock creeping into my skin like goosebumps. "Dedh ghante aor", I hear the drivers voice " phir Ujjain."
I nod back at him. I want to say something, but the words don't come to me. The rain, I see now has subsided. Its dark outside and the car headlight crashes on the mountain road like from an elevated estuary a river collides into violent waves to disappear forever.


I didn't sleep that night. The night I was to watch the "Bhasmaarti". We reached Ujjain late and it was futile to try and get some shuteye for what seemed to me at most one hour and half after having dinner. I don't remember how the midnight sky looked that night. Was the moon waxing or was it waning. It wasn't full moon, I remember that much. The dogs were awfully quiet that night. My eyes felt droopy and I remember suppressing a yawn. Little did I know back then while chatting away on my phone that the next day might be one of the more eventful days of my life. The "Bhasmaarti" itself might stay in my memory for years to come. It was absolutely sublime. At that moment I realized I wanted nothing for myself. All I wanted was satisfaction not just for me but for every lifeform on this planet and beyond. As the tolling bells of the aarti got louder something resonated within me. May be it was the ambient noise and the environmental high. May be something else. But at that moment everything just ceased. The "bhasm" falling on the "Shivling" paused with all the matrix effect it could muster. The faces around me still in their profound elation. At that moment  I could see sound in its most oppressive glory. I felt as if everything would come true if I wished it. And I wished for satisfaction. 'What a laughable thing to do.' I would think later that day on our journey back. But time like an expert gambler never reveals all it's cards. My yawning self wandering alone post midnight, chatting away ceaselessly on the phone was unaware of everything. To him it was just a formality to be done with and escape back to his city untouched by the air of something foreign. But right now as I look at him I having nothing to offer but pity to that hapless self.

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