I kind of like the feel of return journeys.
It is often the case that departure is sorrowful with the silent pain of having to call it a day and leave the celebration. But there is also a certain calmness in retracing our path back home, with memories so fresh that they are still bubbling all around in our heart. This feeling of peace is what I like about it. Our mind is filled with new experiences, and they are being carefully placed in little drawers inside; there are laughs, moments of fascination, may be a few disappointments. Nevertheless I just like return journeys in a special way.
The most recent of such departures was from a short stay at Cochin - a popular city in Kerala, the Queen of Arabian Sea, yet my first visit to it. If you walk around the Marine Drive or MG road, you'll find a bunch of street vendors with a great collection of books. Yay, that's all the shopping I need! After brief walks through the city streets, its seaside walkway, and all the crowd, I had rushed for the last train back home. In a calm return journey, a good book is such a great luxury. I had Haruki Murakami's After Dark. It is a nice book to get lost in. The events occur after midnight and all through the very early hours of morning. So the characters are essentially in a state of caffeinated consciousness.
The book has been my traveling buddy for the two days. It became more interesting as I noticed how the passage I read at any moment would somehow relate to my surroundings - sometimes it vaguely described the people I met and sometimes it related to my state of mind. It could be that I was too immersed in the world inside the book, or it could be simply the talent of this Japanese author.
As the evening moved to it's end the sky showed more shades of colors among the clouds. It was, indeed, beautiful and all but also very subtle that it made me think that artists are often exaggerating the nature's palette when they make long strokes of intense colors across the canvas. A few minutes later pretty long strokes of intense reds and yellows were dabbled across the sky and the trees became neat stark silhouettes in the foreground. Then I was left with the impression that nature is exaggerating a bit regarding sunset colors.
The train compartment had all the seats facing a single direction - like in a bus - instead of the more common facing-each-other type orientation. Also, all these seats were facing a direction opposite to the train's movement! So all of us in that compartment were sitting there and moving backwards, together. My mind half carried way in the world of the book, yet conscious that I was traveling backwards in great speed, picking up a peanut once in a while from the paper cone in one hand, vaguely absorbing the soft instrumental music from somebody's cellphone playing in the background, I even managed to pay part of the attention to the cold breeze whooshing past the window seat.
A few of the familiar characters appeared once in a while going through their usual routine, either singing songs wearing their shades or persuading us to buy lotteries or giving a detailed account of how they got attacked by an elephant and why we should help. People also went through their usual routine, listening to these characters for a moment and then resuming whatever they were doing a moment ago.
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A couple of days ago I went to the beach. It was unusually lonely. Since it is officially the longest driving beach in the whole country and justifyingly pretty long, being the single person standing within a few hundred meters of the shore feels considerably isolated. Then I noticed I wasn't exactly alone. There was a great number of sea creatures around. Starfish lying awkwardly face down in muddy sand, oval shaped pink crabs, bigger ones in their long winding shells, and smaller ones rolling around with the waves in their decorated shells. And me, standing amidst all of this lively situation.
That's life. The weirdness never seizes.