Three things happened today and I want to tell you about all of them. This might seem like three posts in one, but it all ties up in the end somehow. I swear.
I take a bus to work every morning at 8 a.m. It drops me off at Parel at around 9.20 and I take a cab from there and get to work at around 9.45 a.m. Every single day. I get the cab from the same spot every time. And it takes me about 15 minutes to find one. But I don’t really have to get to work at a fixed time everyday, and 9.45 is early by most standards, so I don’t mind waiting that long. Besides, the bus is awesome. It’s almost never crowded, and I always get a window seat. I even get to make sure it’s an unshareable window seat, which means that both sides of it fall right next to my seat and I don’t have to deal with the guy sitting behind me half-shutting my share of window so he can half-open his share of it. I read on the bus. I plug my headphones in and sleep and eat chocolate on the bus. I get so much leg space that it makes me feel uncomfortable sometimes. I am used to propping my knees up on the seat in front of me and the seats on this bus are so far apart that my knees don’t manage the distance and I have to sit like regular people in comfortable chairs. These are small things but running around from the bus to the train to the cab every morning overwhelms me. Crowds make me anxious. Not having a fixed comfortable morning routine makes me anxious. Not knowing if I’ll ever get to go to work sitting down makes me anxious. And it kills me a little on the inside. I hate Bombay on weekday mornings. And my bus helps me to forget how helpless this city can make you feel.
Today was slightly different though. I got off and waited at my usual spot but didn’t get a cab for 40 minutes, and people told me there was no bus from thereabouts either. I waited and walked around and flagged cabs down and three of them were empty but they refused to go anywhere because the cabbies and the rick guys of this city are just giant fucking assholes and someday I’ll buy myself a gun and fucking shoot one of them in his smug, fugly face I swear to god I will.
But I digress. I met this guy who was also waiting for a cab and also going to the same place and when we finally got a cab around a whole entire lifetime later, we got talking. He is an intern at a law firm in my building and he had to get to work early because he didn’t want to piss his seniors off. He told me about how he hates Bombay because you can’t get anywhere in under two hours. He told me that his is a 12-16 hour job, that law looks glamorous from the outside but it drains you if you’re on the inside. I told him that on the bright side, he’ll make a lot of money, fast. He asked me if I thought it compensated for life lost, and he said that he reckoned it didn’t.
At work today, after lunch, I went out for a walk with this girl who I’ve never really hung out with before. I wanted chocolate. She wanted coffee. So we bought some Nutties and then went to CCD and sat there for a while and talked. She told me that she loves to travel and she makes sure to go somewhere every year. She told me about studying in the USA, how it helped her career not at all and helped her ace Life In General. She told me about taking off every weekend and living in tents in parking lots and CCD’s and random peoples lawns. She told me about a woodworker who takes wood and makes insane things, and a travelling designer who relased an iPhone app from Goa while his engineer was in Seattle, and a French guy who has set up a camp on the edge of a cliff at Panchgani and lets people stay there for as little as 200 bucks a night. She told me about paragliding, and about people who do it for a living and about parties near lakes where the air is full of trance and the sky is full of wings and people come down all around you and land anywhere they pleased. She told me about people who are always on the move and raring to go and never afraid to leave.
She’s working now at the same agency as me. Because you can’t really travel forever on nothing, and money is hard to come by if you want only to follow a dream. It made me wonder what it is with this country where anybody with half a brain is expected to get a Career and Do Well and Settle Down. I wonder why we aren’t allowed sometimes to just get a Job. A simple fucking job, no strings attached, no roadmaps in tow, no mental graphs that map your Progress in terms of money earned and future prospects and time invested. Complicated charts full of facts and figures. I wonder how it turns out in the end. I wonder if it’s just a diagrammatic representation of Life Lost. And I think I have to agree with the law intern from the morning.
It just doesn’t compensate.
And that brings me to tonight. A friend found out recently that a boy he sort of knew killed himself a few days ago. He’s been learning little things about the boy ever since. He played guitar and wrote poetry and rescued snakes. He gave things to people without being asked. Designed airplanes. And was far too sensitive for his own good. He was a kid, only seventeen, and he was wiser than his years.
I have a theory that Wisdom is what will get us all in the end. That it is what will drag us down. Life is short and we lost too much of it everyday. More than a day’s worth of it drained away by trains and neckties and cabbies you can’t help but want to shoot in the head. Imagine studying hard for seventeen years and working your ass off at your first job in a series of jobs that come together to become a vague, vast creature called a Career. Imagine doing all of this and knowing from the start that it all amounts to many things and to nothing and that in the end it probably just adds up to Life Lost. This, at the age of 22. This, at the age of 30. This, at 42, and 45, and 50. This, for almost ever, or for as long as you can take it. And who knows how far that is… Some people burn out from the too-much of everything, some start to ache around the back, neck and shoulder, the heart. Bad lifestyles, bad diet, bad stress-levels. Bad ideas on the whole; a lifetime of going about things the wrong way. And not nearly enough milk or sunshine.
Someone told me yesterday that I better never get all annoying and jaded. But tell me, Niyati, how can you be as old as you are and know what you know and never feel it eat away at your bones? I do believe that the wisdom will undo us all, a little bit, at various points. And most of us will give up or be forced to slow down.
But the thing is, and I only just figured this out today, there will always be some who will say fuck it all and take off and learn to fly. Who knows, we might make it too some day. We won’t all get to go paragliding . But we might do things like it in our own ways. You might travel the world and live life on your own terms someday, Zonk. And I might become a librarian and play violin after hours. (I’m assuming I’ll be able to play by then.) And by the time we have kids maybe we’ll be able to teach them to calm down and let things be and that it’ll all work out alright. It’s a lie, probably, but an essential lie. Besides, who knows. These things happen. Until then I’ll try to sit up straighter and drink milk everyday and practice violin a little at night. And I’ll colour with my nephew on days when I get home early and jam a few hours every Friday. And at night I’ll sleep with my brand new sun jar turned on. I got it as a birthday gift (the yellow one). It stores sunshine by day and lights up by night. And this was one long fucking post. My apologies, Zonk. It’s just one of those days I suppose.