The Road and The Journey


My English teacher at high school was pleasantly intrigued when I wrote, in an essay on what I would like to be, that I wanted to be a vagabond, while many turned in predictable visions of being doctors and pilots.

There is something very evocative, philosophical, magnetic, romantic, mysterious, adventurous, enigmatic, and more, about a Road or Path or Track. Where does the road end? What are the sights and sounds along the way? What experiences lurk on the road? What acquaintances and relationships happen along the road? Such questions draws the seeker like a magnet to the road. The road also mirrors the progression of life, if one takes life as a journey from birth to death.  The Road is a metaphor for life.

Observe the picture alongside. I had made this image on the computer when Microsoft Windows first arrived in our lives. It evokes all the sentiments and questions described above.

I associate two old, popular songs, one Hindi and one English, to this picture. The Hindi song is Kishore Kumar’s “Kahin to milegee teri manzil, kahi door gagan ki chhao mein” (“Somewhere you will find your destination, somewhere far, under the shade of the sky”); the other, the plaintive Beatles’ number “The long and winding road, that leads to your door”.

This simple and minimal image could well be an audio-visual-philosophical masterpiece, when seen while listening to either of these two songs.

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Panthi hoo main us path kaa, ant nahi jiska” (Traveler am I, on that path, which has no end”)

I recently saw an old film “Door ka Rahi” (Long distance traveller) on youtube, made by the legendary Kishor Kumar in which he himself acts the role of the protagonist. It has great relevance to this post. Not surprisingly, the film did not do well. It is a film for solo viewing, with only you and the story and no one else in between. The b&w print and lovely songs enhances the sensitivity. The film comes across as a very sincere effort. Kishore kumar, better known as a comedian, reveals his keen sensitive side.

The road beckons: time to move on

In the movie, he keeps moving in life. He comes across ostracised people, exploited people. He can merely help, but he cant solve their problems or make them happy. He is a mere do-gooder. In one villager’s home where he dwells temporarily and extricates the family from a dire situation, the hostess actually tells him to leave them alone with their problems, a shocking reminder that it was time that he moved on.

Even the well-to-do are afflicted. He also comes across a family which is affluent, but which is trapped in loneliness and unwilling to come out of grieving. He almost succumbs to becoming part of their lives which would sort them out, but he checks himself just in time, and moves on.The journey is a constant, fellow travellers keep changing.

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Where does the road end? What lies thereafter? Like puzzles in a newspaper, answers are on the last page.

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