With Eddie Vedder singing Society in my ears, hung over with memories of all those who knew Christopher McCandless, ideas and ideologies of London, Tolstoy and Thoreau encompassing me, I sit down to write a brief account of what Into the Wild has done to me and why every image in the book and film connects so deeply with me. But Into the Wild came pretty late into my life, when Anirudh mentioned a film where "a guy walks into the forests to live there alone", way back in September 2009. But I've always fancied myself as a traveller, as long as I can remember, not just physical, but if you allow my obnoxiousness, also intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Travelling is a boon endowed on animals. It is a pity that plants cannot move but as far as animals are concerned, migration happens to be a very important part of their lives. If one were to allow the Darwinian Theory to answer this queer animal ability to move constantly, one would understand that the primary motivation in case of all animals has always been survival and protection from other powerful animals, weather and wilderness. But ever since man ceased living as a nomad and sought out for places where he didn't have to be uprooted from all the time, travelling for some men has meant the quest for oneself. Any teenager who has ever been restless enough to read, dreamy enough to believe and idealistic enough to imbibe all that he likes in a character will understand what I mean when I say, The Quest to Find Oneself. It's a very romantic phrase, really is; so much so that it has pushed young men out of their comfort zones and made him do things so 'unnecessary' just to make peace with oneself, atleast for a while.
Any seer, saint or a writer will tell you how great a metaphor a journey is to life. And that is probably why all those idealistic vagabonds with unkempt beards, fiery eyes, dreamy faces and intense attitude capture the imaginations of teenage kids who are trying to figure out what life is all about exactly. I was no different. My idea of bliss has always been me hitchhiking on empty roads, climbing mountains, reading masters, strumming the guitar, meeting new people everyday and seeing a new sun every dawn. I'm no more an arrogant, idealistic, truth speaking, poet-quoting teenager but then that streak in me is yet to disappear. But yes, I'm still looking out for answers and that is probably why I travel to various places in search of my true self.
Since 2009, I've hit the road harder and more often than I can remember. These two years have been highly eventful for me, I've met people I'd never thought to have met, done things I thought I'd never have done, read people who've broadened by horizons highly and who've inspired me on growing out of my shell and all this has changed something deep in me. Thankfully, the fire gets rekindled now and then thanks mainly to the books I read. Books mean a lot to me and maybe one day soon I'll write my experiences with those books that have struck a deep chord with me.
My Bombay trip way back in June, 2009 is somehow etched into me as the time when I started growing up and gave my ideas enough importance. A very distressing period of time. I was lost, I was disgusted, I was a coward and I didn't know where to take refuge from the truth I didn't want to hear. I went to spend a week with Chinakka and through the week, though I was depressed, it was there that I managed to bring a lot of hurt and pain out. And since I'd already had read Shantaram by then, Bombay held a deeply romantic aura in my head and so I travelled in local trains, visited Churchgate and Leopald's and ate lots of Vada Pav. In fact, it was in Bombay that I started experimenting with music, turning into fans of Dylan, Marley, Mike Oldfield among others. In fact, in retrospect, I feel that I turned into some sort of a willful social outcast there, cursing society for hypocrisy, for all the wars and injustice, growing my beard, honouring truth and quoting writers. I still sometimes think that a lot of me that is now, all the ideas in my head, were for the first time ignited there in Bombay when I went through the painful process of longing for someone. My pictures of that time show me thin, gaunt, with a patchy beard and long hair. Though I was going through a real bad patch, I think I was having real fun because I saw myself to be growing up into an adult, using pain as the hammer to forge my idea of life on the anvil of travelling.
My latest trip to Darewadi taught me quite a few things. I realize how important travelling alone is. The tranquility of sleeping under the sky, the long duration of silence while waiting for a bus, our ability to listen and pay heed to the deep whispers coming from within us, the heightened sense of us turning ethical are all parameters of how rewarding the journey has been. The road is the home, not because it leads you anywhere but deep within yourself, to the unknown and unheard corners of your soul, and has you do all those things you never knew you were capable of and meet all those people who you are.