Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Response to Stimulus @ Kumbh Mela 2013

It has been over a month since I came back from Allahabad after taking a dip in the Sangam (confluence of GangaYamuna and the mythical river Saraswati) on the Mauni Amavasya day of Mahakumbh. I am told there were anywhere between 20 to 30 million people present there that day. I am yet to figure out why I went there.

Kumbh Mela 2013, Allahabad
Anyone who has returned from the Kumbh Mela has a bag full of dirty clothes and a heart full of feelings that are unnamed yet. One has felt a lot. An entangled mesh of darting emotions which very well fit the random Brownian movement pattern between the heart and the mind.

Acute sense of awareness and a deluge of unresolved impressions make you feel like you have gained pounds of weight. The weighing scale might still be a friend who shows you the same number but you feel fat and heavy. The amount of intake is something you cannot measure hence the difficulty in being able to manage and classify it.

'All living beings respond to stimuli', we were taught in school. An important feature to identify living from the non-living.

Here I was. Waiting to respond. Having just experienced an exponential overdose of stimulus after stimulus. Surprisingly, very little assault on my olfactory senses though (the waste management by the administration has been outstanding). Apart from the unusually strong upheaval and surge of emotions, I wasn't able to pin point exactly what were my experiences. Hopefully they will sort themselves out in the coming days.

I started downloading and editing the photographs. After cropping the following photograph as I pressed ctrl + 0, I felt a sting. A punch that hit me somewhere in the solar plexus. This picture was now full frame and I could see fine details of the crooked spine of an old lady in it. Right next to it was another photo of a different old lady who was alone. She walked without any family member.

I need good shoes.
My legs hurt if I walk much.
I am getting old, I need to see the world fast.
I want a good travel bag, warm clothes.
I need a new phone.
I cannot travel without a camera.

Those were a few of the points I remember harping so much about that they were as good as sugar-coated complaints. The bent spines of these ladies made my nags seem so flimsy and spineless.

Looking at these two photographs reminded me of the unfortunate incident of 'railway railing collapse' at Allahabad Junction on the 10th of March 2013. I opened a photograph on the computer. I had asked a fellow passenger to click it on the 8th of March. I wanted to wipe away my smile in the picture. But I can't. It belonged to a time when the time was good and the railway station stood there welcoming one and all. I was the one who arrived. I held those rails and climbed up.

At Allahabad Junction on 8th Feb 2013 
What I feel right now belongs to a time when the same railway station (and probably the same platform) is the cause of death of so many. The ones who departed. They held those rails and plunged.

We belong to different places, as different people in different times. To try and remain sane in all those planes is a herculean task. To figure out how you felt and behaved there and carry the same thread forward is even tougher.

I am sure I will settle down and so will the whole 'Kumbh' experience. I have seen amazing things. Some funny. Some inspiring. Some scary. Some repulsive. Some surprising. It was a collection of so many 'some's'. I will write about them all. But for the moment, I am simply thankful to be back home.

The school books were right. All living beings do respond to stimuli, albeit a bit late in this case. I started crying. And suddenly I was crying for many things. Some in sorrow. Some in gratitude. Some for the loss of lives. Some for the loss of conviction.

I cannot crib with conviction anymore, you see.

(The Reason - I reached Allahabad by Purushottan Express on the 8th of Feb. I was to take the same train back on 10th Feb at 7:45 pm. But I was invited to attend a friend's marriage reception on the same night in Delhi. So I took the evening flight out on 10th, instead of the train. I shudder to think that if it wasn't for the reception, I would have been at Allahabad Junction at 7:00 pm yesterday, at the time of the tragedy that claimed 37 lives).

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