Back in February, I was invited to speak at the TEDx Conference at NMIMS, Bangalore. My entire exposure to TED till now had been through the remarkably interesting videos made freely available for the world to watch under the appropriate tagline – Ideas Worth Sharing. I hadn’t really thought that my own experiences were really worth being shared from such a large platform.
If at some point your do not ask yourself, “What have I gotten myself into?”, then you are not doing it right.
Fishing? Attending weddings? Visiting Durga Puja pandals?
The options are many. Then I saw this image.
The morning of March 3, 2012 seven motorcyclists met for breakfast at Manesar. Five proceeded to Rewari Railway Station, 90 kms from New Delhi.
The signs were all there. I just chose to ignore all of them. I had just decided to go on a roadtrip to the most inhospitable of all Himalayan regions with two city slickers who wouldn’t sleep on some sticky pillows if their life depended on it. I just didn’t see it coming.
There are a lot of romantic stories about entrepreneurship which have sprung up over the last decade. Things have started working out for people. The success stories keep you pumped up in hope of that elusive finish line. Despite everything, most entrepreneurs believe, and very strongly, that eventually things will work out. What no one prepares you for is what will happen in the meantime.
Overall, I have been quite a lucky guy. Things have worked out most of the times despite me not having put any effort or mind to it whatsoever. But there have been times when I have been shown the mirror.
It is at moments like those that you rewind and rethink your entire life choices in a flash. You start questioning if what you are doing is actually worth it. You think about how much happiness you could have created if only you had chosen a different path.
A lot of people ask me why I went to Ramlila Maidan.
Why was I there?
There were more than enough reasons not to. There were questions and doubts about what will come out of the whole show. There were questions about whether this was the right way of doing things. There were questions about people’s morality. There were questions about people’s intelligence and whether they even knew what they were doing. There were doomsday predictions of the country going down the dark path towards complete anarchy.
Then there was the question of what my participation could possibly do? I am one slightly overweight, extremely lazy, overeducated fool devoid of any interest in things around him. What on earth could one completely dispensable character like me add to this movement?
Why was I there?
How many mistakes is a man allowed in a lifetime? I think I may have made one more.
Every time I look at the mirror, I see an unknown face. Eyes closed. Hands wrung. Wrinkles on its forehead. Look of dejection in the lines running down from his lips to his chin.
“Is that me?”, I ask myself but I never get an answer. I ask again. But every time it becomes a more worried face which is trying to turn away from me but can’t. The face doesn’t open its eyes like it is trying to hide something. A feeling of dread comes over me but all I can do is stare into the mirror and never get any answers. “Is that me?”, I repeat robotically.
From the balmy autumn evenings to the rained out smell of earth, it seems to have come a full circle. My hands fidget every time I open the lock on the door. My feet shake as if convulsing in a major earthquake. My mind flies high above the clouds unbounded with the complete emptiness inside it. I feel I am running. Running away. Somewhere. Anywhere. Like a horse in the meadows.
The ground beneath my feet in shifting. And I am afraid I may take more than my answerless shadow down with me.
So what if the journey back home was a nightmare I saw with open eyes. So what if the stink in me did not go away for a week. So what if I ended up getting scammed by a God-man even after I did everything to help him. So what if Tip-in Point was fogged out. It was one hell of a ride!
Having gotten rid of every excuse holding me back in the city against my wishes, I headed out due north-east from Delhi the last long weekend. Not everyone was comfortable in heading north-east but then how the hell does that matter anyway. With morning start, I was smelling the fresh country air by the time most people woke up for their morning coffee. Oh, how badly I would come to regret that assumption. We passed by the daylight-nightmare Meerut in a breeze and soon were on narrow, two lane country roads surrounded by sugarcane fields.
For the first time in months, I felt at home.
The clouds are coming
The ground turning dark
I have but few places to hide
My shelter tattered
The scene is reminiscent
We have been here before
But we survived
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