An Idiot's Tale

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An Idiot's Tale

Cacography of a madcap story teller, JAYEETA GHORAI

Seeking a name for my new travel blog, Charaiveti was the second word that came to mind. It was dismissed fast, I couldn’t relate to the aesthetics of the letters in English print. Maybe if I ever write in Bangla, in the cursive font fondly recalled from one of my favourite celluloid poems, I could reassess.

‘Juganta’ I consider one of the finest films I have seen and my personal Aparna Sen topper – she hasn’t beaten herself this far, though came pleasantly near once or twice. In a dreamily edited sequence, the wife Anasuya, clearing her erstwhile home, discovered estranged husband Deepak’s literary journal.

Charaiveti, she writes where his script had ended.

I had enjoyed the word ever since.

A Sanskrit saying from Aitareya Upanishad, chara is to move, eva is only and iti is thus.

The chant goes:

Charanbai madhu vindati charantsvadu mudambaram.
Suryasya pasya sreemanam yo na tandrayate charan.
Charaiveti, charaiveti

The honey bee finds honey by moving about; birds taste delicious fruits by moving in search of them. The sun commands worship, worthy because of its constant motion. Therefore, ye soul, let not your feet stagnate. Keep moving, move on!

The Enlightened One closed his sermons with this ancient invocation – Charaiveti! Charaiveti! … Go on and never cease…be this eternal journey… let your life be the never-ending quest.

(Sometimes, my beloved language feels pedestrian in comparison to Sanskrit or Bangla, I feel inadequate translating and fall silent.)

The sound of moving on, a rippling river, is Life.

Heartbroken years ago, ABBA’s 1977 hit would loop endlessly on my player, soothing me to numb wakefulness, completely at war to my intent.

Maybe not, even in Bangla.

I could do better than a rented term, an over approved one. It nettles my vanity to not have more imagination than that. Popularity spoils a thing’s appeal for me. The faddish is rarely to my taste.

‘Wanderlust’ was my favourite Danielle Steele novel.

Again, another milestone a creator never came close to surpassing. Bestselling authors have surprising potential sometimes, if you’ve chanced upon their correct burrow of talent.

A journey on the Orient Express, like everything remotely oriental, evokes such vivid sensory pin pricks. I’ve searched for the volume in every book store, at each book fair, on all visits, for twenty two years now. Haven’t tried a virtual bookstore though.  Maybe, the internet after all, will prove the proverbial rescue. ‘Orient’ was a charming word, poles apart in feel from labels made in China, the stuff of awe, intrigue and forbidden treasures.

Wanderlust, my primary choice, enunciated in German.

Lust was the least degree of passions for me. Lust is a term my avaricious heart reckons as agreeable.

Naeh! Wouldn’t do.

Too predictable, dull with over use, clichéd by currency. Everyone was fancy free and foot loose these days. Nat Geo, Lonely Planet, no frills airfare and cheap vehicle loans had made a traveller of every Indian, released into society a painful pest called Travel Bug. I mean you’ll never be free of monkey caps and machh-bhaat hotels in your life! No matter how much you urgently need to break from your beloved metropolitan and its kinfolk, now you just can’t; they hang from your bus windows and train compartments in cacophonous head full-s, and go everywhere with you!

Wasn’t there an essay read in the Bangla school text, on a post-World War youth walkers’ movement…Wandervogel, then?

The word didn’t personalize an image. Not least because, I also take buses trains trams cars besides foot. But something again of a mass movement didn’t stick.

Charonik – the Bangla equivalent?

‘What, do you want an annotated dictionary entry for title?’ the brain spat out.

Wanderjahr? Goodness, no! How can I name something I didn’t know to pronounce, still can’t!

Rummaging the net for ideas wasn’t going anywhere.

Itchy feet reminded me of smelly socks and urge, of sex.

Vagabondia caught my eye straight away, and kept me tantalized, till it turned out to be a Frances Hodgson Burnett novel. What about ‘Secret Garden’…like a news ticker, ‘No!’ came right behind.

‘Nomad on a shoestring’. That’s it! There now, that is exactly what I am!

My brain raised a brow, arms gridlocked across its chest, mocking, ‘So, how much of travelling have you done to qualify a Nomad, you pompous show off?!’

Besides, Shoestring Nomads, I discovered, is a travel column on eating anywhere in the world on a hair thin budget (minus it on your plate, understandably.) Of course, the picture of poverty line initiates a different mnemonic in the Western mind, a sum that can conjure a feast in my geography. Hmm…neat discovery, maybe I’ll offer to write for them. My shoe and its lace do know some things about unearthing cheap tables.

Another favourite, ‘Get Off Ur Ass’ got sadly knocked off the contender list.

Here the brain rolled its eyes over and muttered ‘Heaven knows you need to.’

Also borrowed, from a photography workshop, the phrase stimulated another uncomfortably discordant portrait.

‘Will you ever find the right word? This is why you never reach anywhere’, shrieked one half of my brain, ‘you never take off!’

‘It is important to start on the right note’, snapped the other, stopping short.

‘Excuse me, what did you just say? Repeat?’

And that was it, right there, after two hours of scratching various of my cranial regions and the webbed cannoli, an arresting piece of compound noun selected itself…as the name of my travel ramblings.

The thing that never takes off.

Coming. Soon…?




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