There is a book called, ‘The In-Between World of Vikram Lall’. I really love the title of this. The concept of being in between anything, time, space, people, places. But an in-between world is known only to the author, it is a place for them and them alone. No one can touch me here.
Of course the title itself was not meaning this. It describes the in between worlds of Vikram Lall as he lives in Kenya, battling the turmoils of politics and more. A good synopsis of it can be found here.
But I digress, for I take from it the meaning that I want. Of being in that plane somewhere between the physical me and the physical you. Where time stands still, where my heart beats slow and no noise can distract me. It is perfect. Nothing can touch me here. It takes me to all the other places I have known this feeling, this meditative trance that can only be described as happiness.
I am in India, at Hampi, climbed a top the 100 odd stairs to the temple. The monkeys are around me, a lizard tries and fails at camouflaging, I am with my family – present yet distant – the sun has risen though the clouds they mask it. The air is warm, yet cool as only mornings can be.
I am in India, in Amritsar, sitting at dusk at the Golden Temple. I am alone. My chapels at my hotel, I step onto the red carpet. Wet and sodden from all the washing of our sins. I follow the throng, I weave in and out, one step and then the other. I sit. I watch. I lean back and think, ‘This is life’. And out of nowhere, I am berated, for one should never point your feet towards the temple.
The moment, it vanished. So much for peaceful repose.
I am in India, in Mussoorie. There are many moments of perfection here, my mind clatters to find the best one. I am at my lodgings, a window view across the valley. There are no people, or rather the people are scarce. The Himalayas are before me, the sky orange, the sun tipping its hat for the night. Lush greenery winds below me, it goes on and on as the eye can see. Perspective is a beautiful thing.
I am in India, in Uttarakhand. In a jeep, pretending to be some sort of expert in evaluating health programmes. I admire my host and driver who manoeuvres the hair pin bends with such ease. God bless it not being the rainy season. He reminds me of my father’s family, simple village folk, who walk through the forests avoiding snakes and other forest creatures. His sincerity humbling, his passion to better the lives of his fellow community infectious. I drink in his stories of the creation of the Tehri dam, of the Gangotri, of legends and folklore.
I am in India, in Rishikesh. I am alone, surrounded by thousands of colourful people. The sun is dipping and the insects won’t stop buzzing. And as the night falls, the candles come out and the symbols chime, and the music starts. I am swept up in the devotion. It is not my religion, but the power fills me nonetheless. In that moment, I believe whatever it is all my pretty friends believe too. And I sing, for there is no greater joy than knowing why the caged bird sings.
I am free.