It is the one thing I always seek but just when I am about to find it I decide to change course: stability. Life seems to be going on fine when out of the blue I will call the shots and all of a sudden I will be on the road, to a new journey, all excited and completely clueless for the next adventure: literally and otherwise. This general pattern can be observed in all parts of my life, be it men, places or a job! Amidst all this churn if there is one thing that stays with me it is the obsession for the place, the setting in which life unfolds and in which life’s momentous decisions are taken.
As I walk towards the building that has been my office for the past year for one last time, memories are flashing in my head. The office visits, the view from my favorite window, the trip to the US and the friends. Whenever it is time to say good bye it is the memory of the place that makes me feel sad. The people are important, sure. But I manage to stay in touch with those that matter. It is accessibility to the place that had once defined my world that is given up in moving on.
When I look back at my days at college, I remember walking through the arched corridor towards the dining hall for dinner and the long walks through the campus on brick paved walkways amidst the shrubbery. The walk was always with someone but while the identity of the companion has faded, the setting is crystal clear. I yearn to be back in those corridors, being who I was at that point in time.
It is the same phenomenon repeating itself when I recall my days at Scindia School. Of the time spent there it is the memory of sitting for long hours on the fort wall watching life as it unfolded in the city down below, watching evening turn to dusk and eventually to night that has withstood the test of time and the vagaries of my grey matter. Looking at cities from the vantage point of a fort wall here and an observation deck there has been a favorite past-time be it Gwalior or Leh or New York. The picture is sharp in terms of remembering the place but gets fuzzy when I try to remember the company I had at that moment; a bottle here and a joint there for sure, but beyond that I can’t really say.
The emotional me makes it extremely difficult for me to say bye: to the place because that was the stage where a particular scene of a particular act of my dramatic life unfolded and the people because they were my fellow actors during that scene. It is often said that you don’t miss the place, you miss the people. Sorry Sir, but I disagree. I always miss the place a tad bit more than the people. It is the place that has always given context to people. If I have bonded with people it has been due to the place. When I chill with my friends, our conversation is all about remembering the places we have been to together, or at least the conversation takes off from there.
While it is difficult to bid adieu, it is inevitable in my life. There is something in my nature that makes me be on the move always. I fear settling down. I get agitated by the idea of calling a place my home or a vocation my job for perpetuity. As I say bye to another place and another bunch of acquaintances, the words of Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring come to mind:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.