The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Sunday 9 August 2009


I have been frequenting Delhi since 1998 and for past 27 months, it has been my transit stay that has more to do with my professional obligations. I never felt connected to this city. I do not feel connected to this city. I can't foresee the future but my senses tell me my stay here cannot be more than transitory in nature.

So it was in 1998 May or June when I was coming to Delhi by Kashi Vishwanath Express, the only direct train to Delhi then, Shiv Ganga Express has a very recent history. My father had got me a seat reserved in AC-II and mine was the lower berth. I had to stay at my uncle's place who happened to be one of the best friends of my father but how that brief stay came out to be totally unforgettable, I will come to that later on. So I was in the train and if my memory goes right, it left the platform at 2:15 PM. If my memory goes right, I can properly recollect thoughts about two of my co-passengers and why so we will find in next few lines. I do not remember their names and faces but I do remember most of the conversation that I had with them during the train trip.

One of them was from Banaras, say Mr B. He was a teaching faculty in IT, BHU and was going to Delhi to bring her daughter, married in Delhi, back to Banaras for few days. Other was a merchant from Delhi, say Mr D. He was returning to Delhi after one of his usual business trips. As my nature goes, I was sitting there, silent, while discussions and raging debates from polity to entertainment, to corruption, to sports, and to what not, were incessantly on. I was not at all willing to participate. Also, I found myself not equipped enough to be party to that intellectual parley. So I was there, sitting, silent, listening to them little, talking to me more. I don't know how and why but it was around 5 in the evening when Mr A first approached me to begin a conversation. It was always the most usual thing. Who was I? Where was I going? Was there some examination to take? Where did I belong? What did my father do?, and so on. I never feel irritated in answering such questions though I seldom ask them in return. One of my answers, to 'where was I going?', attracted Mr D's attention when I said I was going to Delhi and it was my first trip to that city. At this answer the communication became tripartite. Slowly and gradually I started talking more actively in the conversation when I could find something of my thinking. Probably they customized it and that was really so nice of them. Mr B and my conversation was basically centered on Banaras, education and students while conversation with Mr D was more about Delhi and its people.

Mr B and Me: We went on discussing Banaras, its pollution, dirty roads, crater lakes on roads, BHU, DLW, nothing political. We extended our communication to education, career alternatives, how BHU was again regaining its sheen, how Banaras was emerging as a preparatory centre hub for medical and engineering entrance examination. Another extension was orientation of my age students, on how time was changing and it was changing the way 'we the generation' used to behave. During all this, on something, I used the word 'shuchita'. It is a Hindi word and its English equal is 'purity'. On this he reacted like he came across something so genuine. He was of the opinion that I already had gone through an enlightening revolution in my life and he reasoned himself by saying that someone of my age who could have used that word, was bound to experience something different, something enlightening in life. I could not accept his reasoning. I still do not accept it, for, I used to use such words even much before that 1998 trip and I am still looking to find a way that could lead me to that enlightening revolution.

Mr D and Me: Mr D was like an elder who taught the crash course on Delhi in just few hours. Among many things he told me, information about pre-paid booth was really useful. When he came to know I was totally uncomfortable with abusive language and related decorative words, even if I was not speaking, his advice was to give a deaf ear to a particular Delhi slang, 'behen ke' attached even with normal conversation by most of Delhiites. He told me to avoid taxis and autos and advised me to use DTC buses as I was bound to be taken for a ride in an unfamiliar place.

So the train trip was a nice one. But stay in Delhi was not the same.

My maiden stay in Delhi: I was there for two days. Mr D led me to the pre-paid booth and I got a slip for Kingsway Camp. My uncle was a senior level official in All India Radio and had got a sprawling bungalow to stay there. But I had to speak to a traffic police person to catch an auto as no one was ready to go there, I still don't know why. So I reached there. And this was it. I cannot write what happened there. It hurts as it hurt my dignity then, as it breached my trust in relations once more then. All I can say, I called back home and left uncle's place in the evening. I managed to stay in a hotel in Paharganj though I ended up paying much more. The day experience at uncle's place and the subsequent hunt for a hotel, in a city like Delhi that was totally unknown too, squeezed me out and the first thing that I did after checking-in was a long and deep sleep, a rarity now. Next day, I woke up, got ready, took an auto, reached my centre, took the examination and came back to the hotel room. I was free by 2. I again took a nap. I woke up late in the evening, went out for a while to call home, had my dinner out, came back and slept again. I don't why, probably by the bitter experiences, I did not take the city, its people, well, and so had no desire to go out to explore it even a bit. Next day I had my train, the same one at around 1:30. I woke up early in the morning but spent the time with books. When the time came, I caught the train, to home. This time I didn't venture into any communication. I was occupied with thoughts and I was feeling relieved that I was going back home.

So the train trip back to home was there, with me, with my thoughts. I liked this too. I liked the train journey to Delhi too. But there was nothing positive I could think about my maiden Delhi stay. It was an aversion to this city. Probably it had to more to do with my age and my life experience then. Later on there came many occasions when I had to frequent Delhi with varying periods of stay. So the feeling of aversion gradually receded. But this maddening place has something which never allowed me and doesn't allow me to accept it as a permanent place to stay.