In this instant; right now; as you are reading this – could you tell me who you are?
Don’t fret, I cannot either. I’d imagine no one can. For if we were put in a spot with question like this – we’d only select a convenient label that is handy, shove it in your face, and say: this! Go away, don’t ask me any more questions. And then, many months later comes that Tuesday. It’s late in the morning, you are home. No one around you; you are cooking eggs in a way that you would never Instagram. It’s almost like it is in the movies, but it is definitely not. The eggs? Oh, they are as un-Instagramable as ever; that is perfect. But you aren’t in a wood cabin overlooking a lake or a river and by yourself, while birds are chirping and the movie-like artificial ambience is of peace.
Mostly, you are on the 12th floor of a road-facing noisy flat or in room No. 7 of chawl that intentionally denies private space.
In a city.
That happy, lonesome Tuesday late morning.
There is incessant honking by those who want to use a feature of their vehicle or the never-ending cackle of gossip and argument. The city offers no respite. Therefore we seek, the mountains of Ladakh or the beaches of Goa. Or an equivalent place.
I wonder, then, if it is places that offer the answers that we seek, or spaces?
The effort that we make to know ourselves on a beach in Goa is fungible. It is equivalent of an evening in local train in Mumbai going back home. The evening is the same. Are we mistaking places for spaces?
A wood cabin overlooking a lake in the middle of the forest is the same as a dilapidated concrete building overlooking a traffic jam.
If you take a moment to think about it, it is just material.