Life has a way of bringing together people who you've known for a few years, perhaps many. The time frame doesn't matter; what matters is the bond you share with them. Sometimes, an eternity can be insufficient & often some special moments are all you need to know if a person can be firmly entrenched in the album of your life as friend, lover, guide or what have you. Other than the girl I love, some of my school & college friends hold my heart ransom to their invaluable presence in my life. And you can only imagine my glee at being reunited for a bit with them on one of my favorite escapades - a Road Trip :)
I was in Wynberg Allen School, Mussoorie only for two years. But as aforementioned, time is but a figure. Some lasting friendships brought Bikash, Prerna, Rahul & myself together on the Holi weekend in Mumbai (big achievement considering how near-impossible it is to "catch-up" once we've all drifted in different directions & contrasting careers. I say contrasting mainly because they have weekends off and I don't ;). One untested car for very long drives and four friends kickstarted the sojourn to Murud Janjira Fort & Kashid beach, some 200 kms out of Mumbai.
The hurdles were many, with the weekend crowd driving like lunatics & city-like traffic jams till almost 60 percent of the destination! But once they were overcome, a gentle calm descended upon mind, body & soul. The roads narrowed down to pass through old-world villages where time seems to have stood still, with ancient houses & a bountiful of palm trees, where life is lived simply & wordly desires are few. The closed down rusticity of the town soon gave way to winding roads, an open sky and a graceful ocean.
A coconut water & short snooze in a hammock later, we made our way down to the dock where lay sailboats with a charm oozing from a bygone era. Packed to a spillover, the boat set sail towards the island on which proudly stands the imposing Murud Janjira fort.
Owing to low tide, disembarkation had to be done a distance away from the sharp, rocky shore. A lot of muck & cuts later, we were in the fort. A quick perusal explained why this has supposedly remained the only unconquered fort in India's history - a fort on an island surrounded by water on all sides, a 360 degree view of any kind of approach and virtually unscaleable walls. The fort must have been self-sufficient, with resting quarters, a gigantonormous swimming pool, artillery & weapons rooms to boast of.
A thought hit me like a brick - the warriors of yore must get very good exercise, owing to the immensity of the fort & the impossibly high stairs!!! They also must've been very lonely. How soft we as human beings have become owing to technological advances & the luxuries on display in this age. Even then, the loneliness within us remains to this day. While a section of the ruins undergoing restoration towards honoring our legacy & heritage gladdened my heart, a simple thing humbled and gratified me. Standing in front of this particular structure with my friends, marvelling at its enormity, we noticed a strong beam of light through one of the windows. This beam seemed determined on finding it's way through the aperture on to us. God's Light, I thought. And this is God's way of saying Hi. I could not help but smile, smile at how kind God has been...
On my way back, I was amused to witness again how many people were willing to fit in into a single sailboat. It wasn't a mere hurry to get back home, it was a quintessential quality that we all hold within - that of sharing. That in spite of the heat & lack of space, people found reason to laugh, celebrate & sing. To not find a single frowning face in the crowd was bliss indeed.
Once ashore, it was back to the beach & the sunset leaving a lazy hue over the restless waters, making one wish that the sight of this liquid gold be preserved in memory forever. Darkness descended soon & the car began to zig-zag its' way back home, where reminiscences & laughter awaited us with open arms...