The 6th of April, 2010 is definitely going to leave some impression in my mind. That evening i did something stupid yet got satisfaction out of doing it ( Kindly keep the temptation of thinking something entirely out of place, at bay , for the time being :). In one of my quite frequent mood-swings, i challenged myself to get off the bus someplace near the Victoria Memorial and to walk all the way home navigating through lesser known streets and lanes.
A requisite of this challenge implied me not asking anybody directions; only taking cue from the landmarks i encountered and the use of billoards or glo-signs to get my bearings. Cellphone use was obviously out of question.This was agreed upon subconsciously to make sure that i have only the sense of direction to help me get back to my crib. My conscience was entrusted with the responsibility of officiating this weird deed. "Weird" cuz i don't think u would come across many who would waste time trying to get lost willingly.
So, I plugged the ipod in my ears and got off the bus. As my feet hit the tarmac, the eardrums began vibrating with coldplay's "cemeteries of london", sending a wave of vitality through my body. The fatigue (reminiscent of the hectic time i had back in the college) vanished and all i desired was to get moving. Now, to keep walking is one thing but to get somewhere I had to proceed with purpose...That means basically to pick one of the four directions...So the place where I stood, south (my home's in south kolkata) was to my right. But there were so many streets to choose from.
The thing about neighbourhoods in Kolkata is that the lanes are serpentine and have plenty of dead ends...worse, if you loose track of the places you passed, it's probable that you may take a wrong turn cause at night time the buildings hopelessly similar. My strategy was to follow the streetlights...to avoid lanes with less or dimly-lit streetlamps and stick to properly illuminated path with considerable traffic...As a result the streetlights became my waypoints; I was wary enough to align the streetlights such that I keep heading south following them.
Watching out for these waypoints closely, I stumbled upon a small discovery of sorts...No two of the streetlights I came across were alike...the streetlight posts were like the totem poles of the locality they were in...the profile of people living there could be read from these posts...
In the posh colonies, the streetlight poles were mostly devoid of any grass/moss at the base, no hand painted message or posters glued to the body...just glow-signs/kiosks for anything from pizzas to dance classes...cars and bikes parked near them...some elderly people and mostly buddy-gangs sharing experiences from the day that went by, taking up position beneath those posts soaking in the soft light from the sodium vapor lamp lighting up a small patch of the tiled pavement...
Distinctly different were the lamp posts in shoddy, less privileged neighbourhoods...
Most of the posts had hawkers sprawling around it...be it tea stalls, tit-bits or even ayurvedic medicine stalls...only the posts near open air lavatories were spared...the posts were covered with coloured posters/ flyers for more practical purpose say tutions, income tax consultants and of course, consultants for sexual problems...urchins alongwith kids from housing societies playing unmindful of the autos and cars incessantly horns honking jostling to weave through the dingy lane further constricted by the overflowing street side canal. Countless accounts of love affairs were scratched on these posts by lovers who wished for a public acknowledgement.
I kept moving by following the streetlights lined towards the south till I got my ass over to Jadavpur Thana having walked a good many kilometers on a way one wouldn't come across while using public transport. I convinced myself that the terms of the challenge had been fulfilled and took an auto to get back to the coziness of my bed. Lest my mom began doubting my sanity, I didn't give the actual reason why I got home late that evening.
In case, the whole concept of trying to get lost in city (of course, premeditated) or the purpose of writing a blog on it appears beyond reason, then I say give it a try and let me know.