‘Life is a journey…..’ so have said the wise men. If it is so, then what is journey?
I take a Ghumakkar’s liberty to offer my take; ‘……….Journey is a life. Each journey, like a life, is conceived; to start, to bloom and to end.’
It isn’t very bad, is it, this Ghumakkari theory? Let me take it further – ‘The notion of Journey as a life is more enticing than life as a journey. Here Journeyer is the ‘chosen one’ who lives many lives through a state of continued consciousness and knowledge. This is a fantastic short-cut to the disjointed karmic lives of mortals, who pass across unfathomable voids of the universe, bereft of state, shape or sense.’ Lest the thoughts wander any farther, let me come to the point.
This article is not about journey.
It is about the gaps which separate golden periods of our journey…..about the voids which are like gaping pits in an obstacle course filled with mud, water, slush, grime; and in the X-treme series, snakes and crocs. Only, here trudging through the pit is compulsory. Each journey, howsoever beautiful must come to an end (more beautiful the journey, sooner it must end). Thereafter, one has to drag oneself across the pit of pains and sorrows (snakes and crocs), till one gets on to the next journey. The time in the pit is a dark space when you scheme, plan, dream and conspire to make the next journey come true.
This article is a fiction.
The fiction is about a Ghumakkar’s struggle to get leave from office.
Ghumakkar travels. Travelling requires time-off from office or whatever you call the source of your monthly pay-cheques. Ghumakkar travels more frequently and thus remains in perpetual need for time-offs. This means repeated requests of leave to the Boss (for sake of easy reference I call her Big Boss, BB and in the same vein let’s call the Ghumakkar, G). Now, this fiction is about the constant struggle of G to gain some more days of leave from the Godly BB, whose sole endeavour is to thwart every proposition of G….
G is back in the office from a trip to Thailand or Thiruvananthapuram or Timbuktu, it does not matter where. All that matters is that G is back and ready to begin his struggle to make the next journey a reality.
It starts as soon as G lands in the office, still nursing the hangover of a wonderful trip. His first move is to the hallowed office of BB.
“Morning Ma’am. I am back.” No response. None expected.
“Ma’am, am back from the trip. Am indeed very grateful for grant of the timely leave. I am also very sorry about missing out on the Annual Coordination Program. You know Ma’am; our tickets were booked well before the program was announced. And Ma’am, any changes in my lowest fare tickets would have rendered them invalid.”
The stone does not move. Stones rarely move. G does not mind. Ghumakkari has given him patience, a lot of it, among many other things. He persists with an indulgent smile,
“The place is pretty famous for handicrafts, you know, and I came across an exclusive piece. Soon as I saw it, I knew it is meant only for you….so I got it along.”
He knows no magic, but the effect is magical (it always is). Stone starts showing signs of life. A pair of vacant eyes turns in G’s direction. With alacrity, he flashes an oversized packet and places the offering with reverence on her table.
“Ma’am, this also contains a sari. Actually, I came across this boutique which deals in exports….has a big customer base in Europe. I hope you will like it. And not to forget some sweets, you see, for the children.”
He catches a faint hint of smile on the BB’s face. Her smile, after all is the licence to his next trip. BB does not usually display her emotions in public. She maintains a voice which goes well with her clumsily-sculpted-on-stone facade.
“G, the Annual Coordination Program was a very important event for you to miss. Do I need to remind that you are a notch down on the professional front. Anyway, get on with the project. And of course no more leave this year. I hope you remember the promise you made before taking the leave.”
“Yes, I do remember, you dumb bat! I remember that I made the promise and also that I never meant to keep it. What would you, who have seen the world only through the windows of your blighted office, who has measured it only in terms of accruals to the company’s bottom lines, know about the joys of travelling? I also know that I will need the next leave more dearly than this one….. I know I will have to work extra hours in the meantime, make my contribution towards the health of the company’s balance sheet. But I am still happy to be on this side of your table. I wonder how your grey cells would react to statements like ‘…………..travelling is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living (M Beard)…………....’ I am often surprised at the lack of your desire to glance beyond the dotted lines, lack of your understanding of a lively world which exists across the travellers’ never ending paths.….”
G does not say all this.
In fact, he does not say anything. He does the predictable nod, keeps his smile on and backs away gracefully.
G has to be mindful of his fellow-workers as well. Some colleagues admire his Ghumakkari. For them, he is the final stop for all-your-queries-about-travel. They eagerly await his arrival, listen to the stories and go over the pics. This bonhomie is another cause for distress to BB, who views such acts as detrimental to professional fidelity. Then there are sceptical ones, for whom his acts of disappearance from the office are nothing more than a prankster’s tricks. Some allege that he is in league with BB. How else would he manage his leaves so regularly? Some wonder aloud whether G’s investments in travel are worthwhile at all. After all, had he saved what he whiles away on travelling, the investments would have got him this and that……..Travel, after all, does not create assets. He would be better off following other wise men here, who know the worth of each penny and ways to multiply them.
Some colleagues are well-wishers who try to show him light:
“Where to, this time, G?”
G – “Anjuna.”
“Anything special there?”
G – “Yeah. Great beach and sea food.”
“Didn’t you go to a great beach last time and had sea food as well?”
G – “True. But that was Andaman.”
“ I see. Isn’t a beach, after all, a beach with sand and sea food?”
G – “No, no, you do not see. Each destination is different from the other one. Every beach has its own character.”
“Good God! Now are you going to tell me that some destinations have loose character and some have strong character? Or are you going to tag them by their moral value. Isn’t a destination about a place where you go with your family, have a good time eating pizza-dahi bhalley-dosa-papri chaat with perhaps swimming pool-jacuzzi-spa thrown in. How do other things matter?”
G plods on, largely unmindful of barbs or bouquet coming his way. He is charitable enough to embrace friends and foes alike. And all this while, he endures extra hours to make up for time lost and works his heart out.
He also keeps a sharp watch on BB’s disposition, awaiting his chance. It always comes, sooner or later. BB is, after all, a human being and not such a bad boss as she has been made out to be. She does credit her employees for their hard work and acknowledge those who help achieve the company’s target. The stone does melt sometimes, especially when G has turned himself into a propitious, winsome kid once again.
Then comes the opportunity; perhaps an unguarded moment when BB blurts out a few words about G’s good job/performance. Like a hungry cat, G pounces on her words. He is well prepared for such occasions and sees to it that BB agrees once more to his proposition and grants him the next leave. Of course, he makes a very sincere promise about this being the last leave of the year.
That is how our Ghumakkar’s travails follow his travels, endlessly.
Ghumakkar’s story does not end here. Ghumakkari never ends. Ghumakkar is destined to go new places, meet new people, traverse new paths. Through his journey, he will continue to learn; about ‘them’ beyond ‘us’, about ‘there’ beyond ‘here’ and about ‘that’ beyond ‘this’.
He will continue with his attempts to look over the horizon, to get past the last post. He will keep getting fascinated by what he sees and does.
He will accept and be accepted. And in doing so, he will get himself a bit closer to this wonderful, varicoloured world.
Actually, our Ghumakkar intends to travel till the very end…..where all begins anew. That is why I often call him the eternal Ghumakkar.
Of course, he will also go on coaxing, cajoling, cussing his boss for a few more days of leave……..
‘We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more..…………‘ Pico Iyer
Picture reference .
1. Delhi/Cal flight (2011)
2. Mizo tribal village, Reik, Aizawl (2010)
3. Mcleodganj (2011)
4. On the way to Hatu peak (2012)