[I am currently doing a survey in 3 tribal areas of Maharashtra. After finishing Nasik and Nandurbar I am now traveling in Dahanu]
It seemed like a normal day – I hailed a rick to Borivali station, cursed the traffic, drew out the change for the driver wondering if the meter has been tampered, bought a newspaper, and taking brisk steps entered the platform. Instinctively my head turned towards the indicator searching the earliest Churchgate bound local. It was of no use, of course. I was heading to Dahanu (90 km north of Mumbai) — the exact opposite direction in which people around me were going!
It only increased my feeling of estrangement. A few months ago I was part of that other tribe, heading at breakneck speed towards Churchgate. And now I was going away… away from my city. It is strange how I still develop knots in my stomach in the build up to my trip. I hate the few hours/days before I start my journey.
The knots are tighter these days as I go to unknown, un-touristy places – the tribal areas of Maharashtra. I look around – some people are dosing off, others strangely are glad the vehicle has started. It makes no sense to my troubled mind which is feeling grumpy after being shunted out of its comfort zone.
Hmmm… perhaps, these people are happy because they’re glad to turn their backs on my city, Mumbai. They are going back to their village, their homes – their own comfort zones. I feel light, my mind is no longer troubled – I am not moving out of my comfort zone…. merely moving into someone else’s.
As the bus moves I see many towns and many many villages along the highways – young men fooling around, women haggling with shopkeepers, children having a great time playing in the mud. In my mind, people could enjoy the simple pleasures of life only in Bombay. Not so, I now realised. It opened my eyes to new realities. But, now it was time to close my eyes – sleep beckons.