Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mile markers

As it turns out, doing the same thing over and over again, but at somewhat longish intervals can be quite enlightening. Well, maybe not enlightening, but definitely entertaining :). On what used to be the regular trips to visit family in Asansol and Shantiniketan, this turned out to be particularly true on a few occasions.

One was while catching up with some friends on a terrace, down the street from the apartment where I grew up, where we'd spent hours playing cricket a bit over a decade ago. The view had changed. Not imperceptibly, but almost completely! It's not like the old landmarks had disappeared, but all the newer buildings and apartment blocks seemed to have outgrown the old respectable height of three or four floors and loomed above the rest. It was interesting trying to pick out the bits that were still familiar and wondering what it would all end up looking like in maybe another decade.

Later that day four of us school-mates, rather fortuitously at the same place at the same time, decided to drive out to what used to be one of our favourite high school haunts, a not too easily accessible and to be honest rather unglamorous spot on the bank of the Damodar River :). We made it in good time for sunset. This being a winter following a particularly rainy monsoon, the river had overrun all the little sandbars we used to love lazing on. There was even a ferry, where usually, or at drier times of the year, people would simply wade across, from sandbar to sandbar, from one bank of the river to the other.

The thing that was probably the most innocuous but left the greatest impression, was the drive back to Kolkata. It's something I used to do maybe once every couple of months, and for years, I never really paid too much attention. To the patterns of the fields punctuated by villages. To the occasional sets of power lines marching off into the distance, apparently aimlessly, going from nowhere to nowhere. To the village kids, fairly used to the vehicular traffic, but still quite entertained by anything not a local bike-trailer, truck or lorry.

In the gaps between the knots of populated areas I decided to roll down the window and drop off the speed. I wasn't in a hurry, it was mid afternoon and I had hours in which to get back to Dumdum. The mid-winter weather was perfect, the air refreshingly cool as it shuddered past the open space. I noticed that the fields had been harvested, leaving them a bit colourless, I guess I missed the verdant green of the unharvested crops. The fields stretched out, flat, all the way to a distant horizon, which faded off into the haze like a question.

There was something immensely peaceful about it all. Was it the passage of the better part of a year since the last time? Or was it the weather? Or was it just that for a change, I felt I didn't have to go as fast as the road would let me? :) Either way, it's been a good vacation. And as I had predicted, all too soon, it's over. I do have another couple of days or so till the flight back to Oslo, but some of that will be spent packing. Sad thing is, I had just about gotten used to the sleep cycle here...

Currently: wondering when the snow will come
Listening to: A$AP Rocky - Fashion killa

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