Blame it on the fact that I had slept through my dinner or that I just had a lovely dream about having jelly beans, but the other day I thought about making jelly. Bearing in mind that I’m a Guwahatian, I decided upon preparing the local flavor called Ghy jelly. Now the problem is, Assam being the land of lahe-lahe with Guwahatians in particular overwhelmingly preferring jam over jelly, I had serious doubts about whether my jelly would be popular among my fellow denizens. At last after much dilly-dallying I resigned myself to vox populi and eventually decided upon making a Ghy jam instead. The recipe for the Ghy jam is as simple as A, B, C; all you need is a person who morphs into a zombie the moment he rev up his vehicle. That person may be a Nobel Laureate or a school dropout doesn’t matter at all, what matters is the unfailing adherence to the motto, “This is MY city, MY road”. With such a kind of person on the road, the jam is just about ready in a couple of minutes or so. Whenever the roads open up a bit & cars break their usual lahe-lahe pace these zombies come to the city’s rescue by making sure that the jam isn’t spoiled. For doing so, they possess some peculiar tricks at their disposal. All of a sudden they might swerve their vehicles on to the wrong side of the divider or park it in the middle of the road or try driving it while picking up an important call from the US President. That’s all it takes to make the sinister scheme of a few of preparing jelly instead go kaput. As cars keep on stacking one after the other often resembling kilometer long horizontal skyscrapers the zombie at the helm of it all is too humble to accept the honor of being the torch-bearer of such a huge movement. Soon other zombies join him in his efforts by filling up the numerous by-lanes chock-a-block or trying to squeeze in their vehicles between two already standing ones on the road. Any last-minute hitches of spoiling the jam are all but gone now. The zombies save the day once again as they re-establish the usual lahe-lahe norm of the city and help me in preparing a classic Ghy jam. The Ghy jam is very versatile; roundabouts, flyovers, highways, or any other road for that matter can be taken as a medium for preparation. Do not be worried if you hear things like ‘construction of new flyovers to ease jam’ or ‘high level meeting held by the district administration to chalk out a plan for the smooth flow of traffic’. Take my word for it: even if they cover the whole of Guwahati with flyovers or make roads as wide as the Brahmaputra, as long as you have an ample stock of die-hard Guwahati loving zombies you will make a wonderful jam. Personally, I would have preferred jelly because it flows so smoothly and effortlessly but then it’s Guwahati, the city ruled by zombies and till they exist, it’s better to keep my jelly making plans jammed firmly inside my head.
A question to start a thought: how many times have you acted on an impulse? In your life till now, have you ever taken a chance without thinking about the consequences? People grumble that their life is just a monotonous wheel turning about in an endless circle. I say, “Hey! Life’s not a circle!” rather I see it as an open road transitioning from one milestone to another; and even further, if you believe in Karma and ‘life after death’ (which frankly, I don’t) It’s those random roundabouts that you come across along the open road that people assume to be a full circle and keep on rotating about them, never realizing that there’s a tangential road out that leads to more beautiful milestones. I know it’s quite comforting to be the obedient sheep in the flock, blindly following the shepherd and doing exactly what he wants. I’m a sheep alright, but I’m more of the black sheep amongst the herd. Every now and then, I stray out from the herd to experience what’s life on the other edge of the line. What will happen if I eat that particular grass that our shepherd has forbidden us not to? I may die, or I may taste something never tasted by the other fellows!
Now let me transform that philosophical jargon into a real-life incident. If you’re an Indian, you’ll love 15°N-73°E no matter in which part of the country you are now. The only place suitable for an impulse experiment in India is…you got it right, GOA! Goa has something for everybody, including the endangered fickle-minded species that I am. It’s 5 hours from my present abode and you will always find someone or the other from my college in Goa. As such, me & my friends went like normal guys to Goa, did ‘normal’ things out there & were about to return back normally too. But the black sheep in me wasn’t satisfied; normalcy & me, uh-uh. There we were standing, 4 normal guys…err, make that 3 and a half normal guys in the railway station waiting for our train back from Goa. Up comes a train huffing & puffing on the other platform, men and machine both visibly tired from the long journey. India has one of the largest networks of railways criss-crossing the land in a labyrinthine of tracks on which thousands of trains chug daily. All the trains, save the special ones, are drab and not-so-eye-catching and this one was no exception either. The train slowed down to a halt and its engine stopped just a few metres away from where we were sitting.
Deep down, I was having some kind of queasy regret at leaving Goa and not having done even one ‘abnormal’ thing according to my standards there. My flitting eyes caught sight of the driver alighting from the engine. Suddenly, the heady cocktail of studying engineering and the black sheep effect kicked in and I wondered,” I have studied about these things in my course, now would be a good time to see how the actual stuff works” I leave my unsuspecting friends behind and set out to satisfy my engineering urge never realizing that it was actually the black sheep in me tempting me to eat that special grass! At first I thought of asking the driver for his kind permission but he had disappeared by the time I reached the engine door. There I was, standing in front of the open door & having second thoughts about entering inside. But then, only sensible people have second thoughts, not persons like me. I looked to my right, then to my left and then to my right again and in less than a minute hopped on inside the train engine. Visuals of man landing on the moon & climbing the Mt. Everest started flashing before my eyes as I felt an excitement akin to those great men. I scanned the engine compartment as if I had stumbled upon some valuable treasure, noting that trains actually have three levels of brakes and many small controls like that in an airplane.
I was carrying out my survey with great zeal when some random noise distracted me from outside. As I looked out the window, the reality struck me. Some men were ordering me to come down in a no-nonsense tone. Looking yonder, I could see Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel taking positions behind some shrubs. I came down, my mind numb with all that was happening in such a fast paced sequence. The pictures of those conquerors faded away from my eyes as I was now visualizing myself more and more like those terrorists with AK’s in their hands. Lucky heavens for me, rather than being shot dead or jailed, I just received a stern scolding from those men with one of them even lecturing me on how a responsible citizen like me should behave. I was about to retort back saying,” Dude, its Goa!” but thankfully kept my mouth zipped. From the corner of my eye I could see my brave friends watching the entire episode from a safe distance. I can’t blame them; after all, none of us had ever encountered RPF men in our lives before. The person to whom I had only ‘thought’ of retorting back must have been a mind reader, for he spoke The Last Word that I remember till today,” For the time being you can leave, but if in the next 48 hours any train meets with an accident, then you’ll be called in for interrogation.” His words whirred in my mind like a dust storm and were finally able to stir up the sleeping bells of sense left in my mind. For the next two days or so, my only job was to pore over the daily newspaper searching for any train accident or my name in any of the most-wanted terrorist lists. Thankfully, nothing worthwhile happened and after about a couple of months or so I was finally able to convince myself that the R&AW was not monitoring me for terrorist activities.
I know what you’re thinking about me—that I’m a lunatic. On hindsight, you’re partly right in your dissertation. But then, I’m the black sheep, remember? I acted on my own impulse, did my own thing and ate the forbidden grass. So what if the shepherd caught me in the act? I was able to eat something that has never been tasted by the other fellows and I will cherish that memory all my life. This should be a wake-up call for the people: stop running around in circles. Hit the open road and join me on this wonderful road trip called life!
Thus, I ask you again…have you done anything on an impulse yet?