October 16, 2018

Fiction to reality #TheBlindList

As adults, our favorite travel destination are often those that we as children dreamed of visiting.

When I was a child, I'd often get asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answers would keep changing. Sometimes, a sailor, a pilot, a musician, a singer...depending on the mood and the reasons, my response to that question varied.
Eventually, I ended up being a doctor (since that was what stuck with me for a very long time. However, what went unnoticed back then was that it was the books I read that primarily influenced my decisions and instilled in me the fear of missing out. There was so much to be, and so little time. 
As I grew older, I developed another addiction of sorts that was synonymous with my addiction of books. I had developed 'armchair wanderlust'.
The term is pretty self explanatory. Armchair-wanderlust is just your typical wanderlust, but one you can satisfy, sitting at home in an armchair.  Bibliophiles would agree with me on this.

Being a book dragon (I have always hated being labelled a meek little bookworm) since an early age, and one who suffered from travel sickness during most of her childhood, my only resort to travel was through my books and stories. However, I had no reason to complain since my books allowed me to visit wonderful places that perhaps never even existed in the real world, but which I could travel to and stay at as long as I wanted, inside my head. As I read about the whereabouts of my favorite fictional characters, I found myself day taking a boat ride to the most amazing islands, trekking up snow clad mountains, and strolling down lanes, both real and imaginary.
All this was so much fun that when my motion sickness did eventually improve, I was a tad disappointed. This meant I had no excuse to sit back and enjoy my travails within the confines of my bed room. I was saddened by the thought that I'd be now roped into some real time traveling and be forced to cut down on my armchair wanderlust. But addicted as I was, I could never give up the company of my books and all the places they took me to. Instead, I compounded the effect by taking up writing. While I did manage the occasional mandatory family tour, I often tried my luck at inventing new excuses to miss long distance travel. Irate cousins often called me a 'cooped up chicken', which sounds even worse in Konkani, because it translates as 'ghar kombdi'.
I'd ignore them. I had planes to catch, places to go, in my secret kingdoom queendom of books.

Then growing up happened, and the castles I had built started collapsing brick by crick. Reading was no longer a day dreaming activity.
Life makes robots out of us. Mechanical, unimaginative, boring adults who often forget what it means to dream anymore. However, the dreams that we once saw stay with us forever. Somewhere down the line, the innocence of childhood takes a backseat and a sense of practicality sets in...until something out of the blues springs up and reminds you of those good old days once again.
For me, this someone happened to be Indiblogger and Lufthansa  coming up with this brilliant idea of a blind date with the world. No sooner had I read about it, my mind immediately jumped back to a wish list I had created years ago, during my childhood.
"If the world had to actually take me out on a date now, it would have to satisfy a reader's imagination and a writer's childhood fantasies," I grinned.  "Serves it right for taking so long to ask."

I was hoping my date would be an enriching experience

Thus started #TheBlindList...a first hand account of all that happened on my date with the world. 

Pic source: Google
We started close to home. RK Narayan's fictional town of Malgudi was the perfect first stop.
Somewhere within me, I was still fascinated by this childhood dream of a town. Sitting by the Sarayu river, where Swami, Mani and Rajan played, I let myself drift back to those lovely childhood memories I made with them. How I had loved being the fly on the wall, peeping at Raju, the holy man in 'Guide' as he fasted on the banks of the Sarayu, praying for it to rain. 
I relived every memory, this time for real. I walked down Kabir Street with its Lavely extension. I visited the Malgudi Medical Centre and instinctively submitted a job application there, hoping I'd hear from them. How wonderful it would be to work and live in Malgudi. Later, the world and I sat and had a wonderful lively discussion on the same, as we sipped on hot Chai and gorged on garma-garam snacks at 'Boardless', Malgudi's popular restaurant.  Until it was time to say goodbye and move towards our next date-destination. But not without visiting the Mempi forest. On our return trip, we hopped on a train from Malgudi railway station, a constant fixture of Narayan;'s stories and my childhood imagination. We traveled to reality just for a little while...to Agumbe in Karnataka in order to draw parallels between the fictional town of Malgudi and its onscreen version. (Agumbe in Shimoga district was where the TV series was shot.). 

Pic source: Google
The next stop was 'Emerald city', another childhood favorite I insisted we visit. 
The 'Wizard Of Oz' was one of the earliest books I'd read. I remember being completely besotted by Emerald City and the adventures young Dorothy and her friends had in Munchkin Country.
Even though Dorothy might have figured it was all a dream, I never woke up from it.
Somewhere in some corner of my mind, I was still walking down the yellow brick road, searching for answers to questions that life often threw at me. Agreed this journey of self exploration, had made me more open minded to the world, but there was a still a part of me wanting to leave everything behind and slip away on an unplanned trip, an impromptu experience.
On my date, I did not allow life to come between the world and me. For once, I forget about the questions, and took everything the world had to offer at face value. How else could one enjoy Emerald City otherwise?

Next in tow was the magical Narnia. Although I was hardly a kid when this was released, I was so impressed with the series that it got me crossing my fingers and tapping on the inside of my wardrobe on a couple of occasions. Whaat?! A woman is allowed to believe in a little bit of magic at times, isn't she?
So we traveled to the mystical world of Narnia next, but only after booking an appointment with Aslan...
The world had a lot to discuss with him. I watched them converse and connect. The creator and his creation. I don't know why, but this connection made me feel happy from within. Maybe because I was convinced the world wasn't such bad company after all. Aslan believed in the world. And that made me believe too.

By the time we were done, it was rather late. I was curious about Gotham City, but I'd dare to venture there only if Batman accompanied me. Then there was the Shire, Hogwarts, Wonderland, 21 B Baker Street.....my thoughts were suddenly halted by a realization.
What was I doing reliving my childhood fantasies when I had a chance to know reality up close and personal?

"Next place, your choice," I smiled sheepishly at the world. "I will go anywhere you will take me."
I was shocked at my own words. When did I start trusting the world so much?

Out came a blindfold. As I nervously allowed myself to be led by the world, I felt as if I was floating in thin air.
"Where are we going?" I smiled, quite enjoying the journey already.
"The second star to the right, and straight on til morning," the world whispered.

'Neverland', I almost screamed, exultant at the surprise. What better end to a perfect date than this? How did the world know exactly what I wanted?

Pic source: Google

I had always been fascinated by Neverland. So often I had wished not to grow up that growing up decided to greet me a little quicker than it had met the others.
In life where most things are temporary, I would give anything to embrace that moment of perfection (fleeting though it may be) in a place I have always wanted to live...a land with no boundaries, where dreams are remembered and love is never forgotten.
I met my childhood friends, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell there, and introduced them to my world. In turn they introduced me to theirs. We danced all night. Peter with Tinker. The world with me.

All of a sudden, I had a sinking feeling...our date was coming to an end. I quickly proceeded to have a last Waltz with the world. One dance to remember for eternity. Lea Salonga's 'A whole new world' was playing softly in the backdrop.
As the world twirled me around, the sky above me changed into a giant 360 degrees slideshow of views I had never seen, places I had never visited. Beauty that was far beyond my dreams and imagination.

"Have you seen a reality as special as fiction?" the world asked me.

The screenshots were changing at rapid speed, but I managed to get snatches of a spell binding reality...some of the most magnificent sights in the world. I caught a glimpse of the Palawan Island in Phillipines, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Antelope Canyon in Arizona,
I saw spring with trees covered with cherry blossoms in Japan, the pristine white beauty of Santorini in Greece, the architecture of basilicas in Rome and Paris.
"Unbelievable sights
Indescribable feeling
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky,"
  the song played on...
By the time the music faded, there was the rich display of the breathtaking Aurora borealis lighting up the sky. In a matter of a few magical minutes, the world made me witness a slideshow of its bewitching beauty, and overwhelming me with its irresistible charm, as if trying to prove to me that reality could be more glorious than fiction, if only I gave it a fair chance.
#SayYesToTheWorld, a voice within me screamed.

And in that moment of complete happiness, I wished my date with the world would go on forever.

My wish could have been granted. We were in Neverland after all, where time stops and nobody ages. But to have another equally mesmerizing date with the world, it was necessary for this one to end.
A date through the realm of fiction had opened my eyes to the miracles of reality. This blind date with the world had proved to be a kind of trust exercise.
I was now ready for adventure...adventure outside books and imagination. I was ready to go wherever the world would take me.

Every end from now on would be a new beginning. 
Every journey would be an adventure. 
For I had said Yes to the world

This post has been written as an entry for a contest by Indiblogger and Lufthansa, titled '#TheBlindList -A blind date with the world.' If you liked what you read, do vote for me here.

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suhavijay said...

Ohhhh your blog reminded me soo much of my childhood days... ofcourse I think I am only 50% of what you wrote...😂

Sonia Chatterjee said...

Your best post that I have read till date. I felt like I was doing a time travel with you through the stories. Also, I love the term book dragon.

aditi said...

What a beautiful write-up! It's one of your best works Priyanka:)

Sanjota Purohit said...

Book dragon :D liked it! I could connect with your post very closely.

Esha Chakraborty said...

Love love love this post

Preeti's Panorama said...

I have so much to say for this post that I do not know where to begin from. I loved these small unique terms of yours - Armchair Wanderlust and Book Dragon. I loved the way you jumped to and fro from fictional places to real ones. How you linked the malgudi village of the book to the real one in this village was a brilliant move. I love the descriptive lines when the World meets Aslan. very well put. You covered so many places both fictional and real ones, where all of them are my favourites. The usage of words bring forth the emotions behind this post and I liked your nostalgic feelings attached to this post. Brilliant write up!!!

Pri said...

@ Suva
Childhood memories are the most loyal, aren't they?
They stick with us all our lives and visit us time and again :)

Pri said...

@ Sonia
Thanks Sonia. That means a lot to me. :)

Pri said...

@ Aditi
Thank you, Aditi. That does mean a lot :)

Pri said...

@ Sanjota
Thanks Sanjota. I am happy you could relate. :)

Pri said...

@ Esha
Thanks, thanks, thanks, Esha 😁

Pri said...

@ Preeti
Thanks for that wonderful comment, Preeti. You made my day! :)

Priya said...

Superbly written, Pri. Absolutely loved it.

Sudip Saha said...

That's why I used to read English Literature whenever I used to get bored while dealing with Maths and Science.

Pri said...

@ Priya
Thanks dear :)

Pri said...

@ Sudip
I know, right? All logic and no literature makes Jack a dull boy. 0
Same for Jill 😁

Pr@Gun said...

Wow, what a date with childhood, loved the journey