Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Ah, Robert Frost and his Road not Taken, standard English textbook fare for most of us who studied in the 80’s.
I gush and I gape whenever I meet someone who I feel/believe has taken the road less traveled by. It has been an aspiration for therein lies the secret to living a fulfilling life, a contended one.
And today, I met 2 incredible human beings who are living my dream, of blazing a new trail ……
I stumbled upon both by chance. The first through a friend who liked the FB page and the second coz of the first.
When I browsed the FB page, I did a double take. How can some one be so foolhardy I thought? This is escapism taken to its extreme ran another train of thought. Perhaps this person has really been hurt or is running away from deep emotional trauma cried a voice from the inner recesses of my head. What motivates this man to travel the length and breadth of the country on his cycle stopping at remote communities and then staging a theatre act (street theatre style)? Doesn’t he read the papers? How can he survive without a toilet, without money, without his family, without comfort, without all the bare necessities like a roof over the head, 3 meals and more, friends to hang around with and so on and so forth?
The more I followed his travel and read his updates, the more intrigued I was….to analyse, arrive at a conclusion, understand, fathom what made this man undertake the journey he did.
So when I found out he was dropping by where I stay I literally hounded him to meet up. The first was a washout thanks to an unexpected attack of the migraine but I got second time lucky. And how!! Not only did I get to meet The Cycle Natak, I met another intrepid explorer Andre Unger as well….
And so came 2 inspirational hours of freewheeling conversation with Andre and The Cycle Natak, who shared his journey with candor humor, humility and a seeming sense of the unself-conscious self!!
Of course, I have to take you along this journey my dear reader and share the fascinating nuggets I stashed away as I walked back to reality……..
The Cycle Natak
Over pepper sausages, a ham sandwich and chai, cold coffee and mosambi juice The Cycle Natak unraveled his secret to a happy life and his unquenchable urge to explore and travel. I will not dwell upon what motivated my friend ( I consider him that for he let me share his journey, if only for a while) since you would perhaps want to meet him and hear his story in his own voice.
His 2 and a half year journey has obviously been adventurous, but what entices as this 24-year old speaks is his maturity and wisdom, something you would expect from a 70+ wizened sire who has seen, experienced, cherished and lived.
“It is not the destination but the journey that makes my travel interesting and gets me going again and again.”
“People are good. It is when you project goodness that you get goodness in return.”
“It is the truckwallas who have time and again let me hitch a ride with them that makes me feel good about getting back on the road again. They are honest, and would share their last piece of bread never expecting anything in return…..It is the laborer who takes me to his home and heart after just speaking with me for a few moments, happily sharing his frugal meal, which is not even enough for one….And then, I have had rich folks give me a 500 rupee note and ask me to take up lodging at a motel … And then, there is a villager who takes me to his home and gives his bed..”
“You learn to take the moment and live in the emotion of that moment but after it’s over, it’s over. You move on to a new one, a new moment, a new emotion.”
“At times, you have to just let go and let the dam burst because the more you carry with you the more dangerous the outburst. I remember sitting on the road in a particular phase of my journey just crying, venting out my frustration but then I had to shake myself off and move on..hoping there was something better ahead” (This when I asked him if he felt frustration and negativity at seeing how society was, how little progress we have made in spite of the India Shining chimes that play on)
“The condition of women is pathetic but it is far better that what it was so you can imagine how miserable it must have been…….women still think they do not have a right to conjugal happiness, that they owe it to their husbands to sleep because that is their duty.”
“Being a Muslim is not as issue when you get people to see you are a traveler, a human and not a caste.” (When I asked him if he found it difficult to get access to shelter or food because he was a Muslim)
“You have to feel empowered to be empowered. I was in some tricky situations but the fact that I spoke LOUD, spoke with Empowerment got me out.”
“You are answerable only to your (inner) self not anyone’s sense of what you are or who you should be….”
Thanks to The Cycle Natak I also connected with Andre, an intrepid explorer, a risk taker by conventional measures. Giving up a well paid job Andre just took off on his bike traveling from Kanyakumari to Ladakh.
He hasn’t gone back to corporate sludgery by choice and instead opted to become an entrepreneur to “take off when I want to and not have to work 12 months to earn that week of well-deserved break.”
“We set off on a journey wanting to discover ourselves but what we don’t realise is we are who we are, no different from what we were..just more conscious of the self.”
“We are conditioned to eat 3 meals a day when we should actually eat when we want and not live by convention.”
“Being content with what we have and leaving a little for the rest will take you a long way.”
“Do what you want to do before you say it’s too late.”
“You don’t need to have an answer or an explanation or a reason for everything that you do, sometimes it is the doing that matters.”
Wow, I could go on but I won’t. I hope it has tweaked some part of you that wants to do something but is waiting for the right time, the right moment, the right sign to pursue your dreams..to pursue that elusive Will-o-the-wisp….
And even as I write this, I realize blazing a trail doesn’t have to be something dramatic or unconventional it could just be that one small step you have dreaded to take for an unknown fear, an unspoken taunt, or perhaps an unconscious inner barrier…
For now is that time, and that time will never return.
And to all those who have taken that small step every day in a small way….Cheers and More Power To you…..