Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How do you feel when you do something for the last time?

(Disclaimer: This post is by no means influenced by recent observations that most of the posts here are either travelogues or my political rants. They would be back)

A couple of years back, I visited Siliguri, a pretty little town known more as a getway to Darjeeling. This would have been no story, except for the fact that I grew up there and this was perhaps my last trip there for a while. My family moved away from Siliguri since then and there would be no reason for me to go there now, especially when the India trips are usually so hectic.

Growing up in suburbs was fun. We lived away from the town, inside the university campus, in a way isolated from the world. Kids were kids then, and the pleasures of life were simple. After coming back from school - we would circle around the campus in our cycles, talking about immensely forgettable stuff. We played Badminton and Table Tennis with an intensity as if the winner gets to play in the Olympics. There were occasional pranks of course, and flare ups, as all kids do. Growing up introduces its own complexities and we were no exceptions. The random cycling excursions were not so random anymore, and new words like "planned coincidences" started creeping into the vocabulary. It was all nice and clean though, even when the hidden emotional turmoils were not so. The evening outings took new meaning and became more personal than group activities. And they also became an outlet for me to vent my frustration arising from different unrelated reasons. The open roads and presence of very few automobiles meant I can cycle as fast as I wanted, "speed limit" was an unknown phrase then. It was a great way to unwind - too bad I cant try it here.

Eventually, we all moved away from out little world. But we all carried some of it with us, wherever we went. I still prefer living in suburbs compared to a big city, and when very upset, drive to this place just out of Gainesville, which somehow feels far from all civilization, turn of the engine and just wait in the absolute darkness till I feel better. When I went back to Siliguri, I brushed of the accumulated dust of years from my once shiny black cycle and realized it is no good to ride anymore. My sister's cycle still worked, so I took it, rode around all those places which have so many memories associated with them. It was like traveling back in time. I went past my old place, traced and retraced my old routes, stared longingly at empty balconies, received a royal reception at my old primary school, ate a "Singara" at "Savitri Sweets" and finally when it was all done, the enormity of the moment descended on me. This is something I would do never again. I would never ride a cycle through North Bengal University campus. Never again in my life. Not just because I wont probably ever get a chance, but also because it wont mean anything anymore.

The moment has long been gone.


Sujata said...

I fully agree with you about the part that we carry something from the place where we grow up. I spent a major part of my school days in Bhubaneshwar which was a small, very well planned city then. After leaving BBSR (as we call Bhubaneshwar in short), I have stayed in Hongkong, Kolkata and now in Hyderabad. But I still want to stay in a small city where everything is nearby, one doesn't have to travel 20 km to reach office, where one can think of riding a bicycle on a not so busy road. May be that's why I am so fond of Pune which, though growing rapidly, has not yet become too big a city. I last visited my school in BBSR in 1998 and I very much hope that it was not for the last time.

Anonymous said...

Well, to me, it seems better that you shall never come back to NBU again. What I feel about Siliguri is that it has become enormously stuffy that it was 20 years back. Actually the whole of NB has become so for the last 30 years or so & the progress is in GP with timesteps.

May be you have not felt the sublime changes that has occured in the aura of NBU at the time when we were kids but I am sure of the fact that it would be very palpable when you do cycling there next time, if you ever do that again.

I liked slg in my early teens as a new comer. But now I am just a resident over there.

Dimitra said...

I felt very nostalgic after a long time after reading your post.

dipthought said...

Thanks for commenting.

Sadly, "development" mostly results in all cities looking like the carbon copies of each other. Can you imagine that there is now a mall close to JU campus, and lake market would give way to another?

I did notice some of those changes in the area, but felt this post is not the best place to talk about it. The demographics is markedly different, and the invisible wall the campus had from the outside wall was all but gone. May be that would be another post...

dipthought said...



kaichu said...

nostalgia rules, i see

and i can identify with this, because there have been quite a few "lasts" for me over the past few months as well


dipthought said...

What a coincidence!

Anonymous said...

hey deepak da,
i feel ur passion coz i've also grown up in an univ campus.......and i know what campus life means. i still fear to think what my last day at tarabag will be like

dipthought said...

That is a part of moving on...I would even hate to leave Gianesville at a certain level!