Every person that we meet, every experience that we have, is towards the learning of something that we need to learn, towards some future only the universe can see. I don’t quite remember where I read this, or some words to this effect. But I find myself turning to these words so often these days. Because I’d really like to know exactly what is it that I have to learn from Daman, exactly what purpose this city is meant to serve in my life.
I’m convinced that Daman occupies a place in this universe entirely unique to itself. There is no other city on this planet that is as astonishingly full of dismal contradictions. This city has four multinational banks but not one bookshop. It has dozens of beautiful beachside hotels and ‘multi-cuisine’ restaurants and not a single coffee shop. It has no less than two hundred bars, but you will never see a drunken brawl anywhere. The last I’m not complaining about, by the way.
It is like being on another planet, or maybe in another time zone. No, being on another planet or time zone would actually offer so much scope for exciting new experiences. Maybe it’s like being on that planet and in that time zone ALL ALONE.
Bright lights, professional salons, book fairs, theaters - these may or may not seem like unreasonable desires. To me, these things define life. People may gush about mountains and streams; nothing warms up my heart more than the neon signed skyline of Bombay. As I long to meet people that I can flex my mental muscles with, I worry sometimes that I will lose my ability to be amusing. A sort of disuse atrophy, so to speak. Will this continual pretense of deriving pleasure from the trivial become real some day? I laugh at things that don’t amuse me, I aim to find thrill among the blandest- will all this change me? Oh God, will I forget how to talk? That’s about the only thing I’m really good at. Seriously, was I MEANT to be in a place so quiet? Maybe there has been a typo error up there in the universe's logs - maybe I was supposed to be in a place that answers to this description AFTER I died, as punishment for the many sins I have not yet had a chance to commit. And what is it that I’m meant to learn here? Ok, let’s see. To learn to live in the moment. Sans people, sans shopping, sans films and plays and interesting people. To learn that there is more to life than just these. But seriously, is there, really?
But there are some real joys in the dullest of places…when I somehow manage to decipher the gurgle of a two yr old and realize that what he said was- ‘come to my house for dinner, Manjot aunty!”- the warmth I feel is something that I had not known before. I have learnt to shop alone, to watch movies by myself, all the books about life being difficult make so much sense- I never did know what the fuss was about self help books before this. Last week I read something about pain being the best teacher in the world. A year ago, I would’ve laughed and used four letter words that refer to the process of defecation but it seems like such profound wisdom now!