Like most kids, I also dreamt of fantasy lands where there were mountains of chocolates and taps full of Maaza. My fantasy land was perfect. I could watch TV all day, play whenever I want & roam around wherever I want. There would be no restrictions and I would feel at home in that place.
Time passed, reality struck and life happened. My dreams of fantasy land were soon replaced by nightmares about missing a deadline, skipping an important email & screwing up a project. I am always at unease these days. Forget about the ‘fantasy land’, I don’t even feel ‘at home’ in my own home. Everyone has their own way of unwinding. And I bust stress by travelling.
I have travelled to many places in India and I love them all. Many have come closer to the fantasy land of my dreams. One of them is Karnataka. I love Karnataka: its lush-green national parks, garangutan mountains and music-making rivers. Everything is beautiful. It all mirrors the paintings I drew as a kid – brown-colored mountains, green grass and blue tinted rivers. There was always a hut somewhere in this painting with rectangular windows and oval shaped doors. The way leading to the door had grass on the sides that was never shorter than 2 inches.
Rajasthan is nowhere close to the paintings I drew but it always felt like the fantasy land of my dreams. A place where I felt at ease. A home that I haven’t had.
I still remember my first experience with Rajasthan. It was a short, weekend trip to the capital – Jaipur. We boarded the train from Hazrat Nizamuddin & reached Jaipur in 5-6 hours. The station had a big billboard with a turbaned guy bowing down, hands folded. And it said, “Padharo Mhare Desh” (welcome to our country). There was a hustle-bustle on the station with coolies scurrying away in white colored clothes & chappals. Their turbans, however, had all the colors of the rainbow. The air was polite and courteous and suddenly it smelt of fried onion Kachoris. I followed the smell and located a pink-colored stall where a 5 ft 6″ guy was frying fresh Kachoris. The stall read, ‘Rawat Kachori Bhandaar’. Next to the stall, there was a ‘Paan Bhandaar’ crowded with people fighting for a chocolate paan. I was in Jaipur. And I was happy. And I was at peace. It was a place some 250 kms. away from home and still I wasn’t missing home at all.