Image result for PRITESH PAIKI looked up at the night wintry sky to see a plane go way below us. Anytime I see a plane, I imagine it to take me home. I usually remain lost while I stare at the sky as long as the plane is visible. But tonight, I was content sitting beside him. He sipped on his lemon tea sitting too close beside me, our knees touching occasionally. We had walked almost 3 miles already. Given my weight, I’m glad I was still breathing. But the walk was the most beautiful one given that I had never experienced the City of Joy barely on foot and the company I was along with, made it even more effortless.

Since my last encounter in the train, things took its natural course without any exception. We started talking almost everyday that I was in Puri. I’m usually quite comfortable with texting, but when it comes to a phone call, Im very comfortable with only certain people. The day we had come back from a very tiring visit to the Konark temple and many more sightseeing places, we decided to have a phone call. I was nervous. What if I sounded like a man? What if he did not sound good? What if we end up having the most dull conversation and kept saying “What else”? Anyway, he very courteously asked if he may call and I readily accepted. I went out to our hotel balcony and took a deep breath and said HELLO! The reply that came was a very excited HEY! His voice was mature, with a hint of immaturity and impatience. He had prior talked about how comfortable he is speaking in Bengali and I was pretty impressed by his honesty. I do not believe in flaunting 5 lines in English where it is absolutely unnecessary. India is a country with 22 National languages and Bengali being one of them. We spoke about how my day was and what he did and slowly the conversation was led on by him continuously chatting away. I sometimes got worried if he was breathing. I was laughing like a maniac as he shared all his experiences and spoke about whatever that came to his mind. It had been a long time I came across somebody so transparent and open. I am like that myself. We found a lot of similarities as we kept talking after that night even more.

The return trip was horrible. One because he was not there to stare at me and secondly, compromising with cheap train tickets is a lesson learnt. After my return to Kolkata, I had never felt so relieved and in love with HOME. I was suffering from high fever but the next day all was gone as we had decided to meet. It was a very abrupt plan and nothing had been decided. Till now we were inseparable. More I got to know about him, the more I admired him . He is a 23 year old boy, who loves his passion more than grit. A Civil Engineer graduate, who left the comfort of his home in order to pursue his dreams. A wanderlust traveller would be the perfect description. He leads a very simple life, sharing a flat with four other roommates. He lives independently wandering about the streets looking for a story, always getting inspired from the people around him. He wakes up not knowing what he would do the next hour or the next day. These things pulled me closer to him. I could see a part of me that wants to live this lifestyle and cannot because of societal pressures. Even though he is 23, he is a pretty mature grown man with just a tad bit of EGO. I was a bit intimidated to meet him but also could not contain my excitement. We live closeby. Just takes me two autos to get to him. I reached where he had asked me to and at first could not recognize him. He still had the hood on, his beard poking out on different directions, shoes and jeans. This time he wore different specs, much thicker ones. He looked way too cute. I walked up to him and he looked at me and shook my hand. A very awkward and formal HEY! not the same excited one I was greeted with in every phone call. I thought to myself that he would be shy in person. We started walking. We ventured out to most of the chai stalls accompanied by a Silk cut and his favorite, Navy cut. The conversations jumped from casual to sharing deep emotional secrets. As we reached to an open mall where mostly couples or families sat by the stairs, we halted there for quite a bit. I was just happy that I shared the space with somebody who could not stand at one place, had to always jump around in roads and speak so much that I had to make no efforts but just listen to him.  He could capture an entire crowd with just the way he beautifully spoke. Sometimes childish and sometimes like a 40 year old man. He thought that life is a BEAUTIFUL SHOW-OFF! His words make a statement of their own with his own fantasy logic. As we sipped on tea and kept our feet jiggling, we did not realise that time had passed by so quickly. We started to walk back again. The roads were so noisy and both of us wanted some quiet. While we crossed a huge road, he suddenly held my hand so firmly that I felt an entire zoo of butterflies swarming in my stomach.We walked along a University road that was green and quiet, surrounded by Ganja smoking youngsters.  While walking we kept brushing our arms against each other and sometimes I would grab his arm and walk or he would hold mine.

We walked across a big man selling sandwiches on a cycle. He had an old transistor radio playing by his side. The owner called it the “Radioactive sandwich”. He apparently knew the owner who is a very well renowned photographer. They started to talk about photos, lights, shadows, how much they loved what they did. It was such a different experience to know about their lives. In their conversation, I sensed no aggression, no show-off, no jealousy. It was just two purely passionate people talking. I never thought I would be able to gel with these kind of artsy, humble and crazy people. He made me feel at peace. We walked further and the cold breeze started to chill us both. We found an Auto wala set up a tiny bonfire with pieces of paper and a lighter feeling the warmth and speaking to maybe his girlfriend over the phone. We stood there too warming ourselves up, striking a conversation with him too. At that moment I realised how much I learnt from this young kid. How much of time this generation was wasting by going on meaningless dates to fancy places or hanging out at malls with their friends, drinking, smoking and doing nothing half as productive. It was pretty late and he was worried of me getting home. He walked me back all the way till a rickshaw stand and our goodbyes was just a handshake; again an awkward one. “Don’t I even get a hug?”, I said. He smiled and said “Do you want to savour your dish slowly or eat it all at once?”. He walked away not looking back once. On the way I get a whatsapp audio from him. It was Bob Dylans- Blowin in the wind in his beautifully deep heavy voice along with the acoustics. Lord would take me to heaven right there. 🙂

All the while till I got home, I kept smiling as I felt elated. I had never spent a better day with anyone else as much as I did with him. Even though we are similar in most ways, his ideologies charmed me. His free spirited, self motivating, carefree attitude lures me towards him.

Featured image by Pritesh Paik – a well renowned photographer. He belongs to the league of photographers who quit their engineering career to pursue his dreams. This image was published by National Geographic. Follow Bhjooterraja for more of him 🙂

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