Mangalamma approached the desk with the last round of tea for the day - usually around 5.30 p.m. She would ensure the tea cup found the most prominent space displacing other things on the desk. A faint smile would appear on her face as she muttered "Bye Sir". and wait to see how a hand would appear and grab the cup with utmost precision, no matter where she placed it on the table. This would happen without the hand-eye coordination of the designate. An advertising guy who would be engrossed in his laptop. He would respond to Mangalamma in a fright "Oh! it's already evening?! You are leaving early! She wouldn't wait to hear this but knew this reaction. It would happen everyday and then a sip of the tea followed by the panic scream on the approaching deadline would be heard.
This was more than the usual work pile, it had accumulated over weeks and this panic scream had a lot more depth and anguish. A few deadlines had grown into monsters and were lurking around, a few more beastly briefing sessions were scheduled for the week.
Productivity was on a low ebb, ideas were scarce, and the mind wandering away, pleading for a vacation.
As the Office crowd waned, he slumbered at office.
The urge to break-free from all this had suddenly escalated to a fire from a spark. Desperate measures, weird situations kept cropping up in his mind. Could he find a way to salvage this fight between the mind and body. Could he etch a plan while not letting work suffer?
He began to cuss out loudly and let his mind find a way. Vivid images of beaches, mountains, curving roads began to appear from nowhere. This felt good, this was his reason to escape. The only way he could revive his spirit and get better at work. This was a workshop his mind and soul needed.
"let me carry work along" he murmured and planned for a solo drive. But where to - a big question, as always. No crowded places to begin with, no long stretches of the highway. no package tour destinations, or honeymoon couples.
No more looking for deals online, flights or vacation rentals, just a simple accommodation in a beautiful place amidst nature is what he was keen about.
This distraction from work was refreshing. Visuals of a mattress riding on a wave ushered in his thoughts.
Alas! "This idea won't work" he murmured. The beaches of Kerala & Gokarna was on his mind since long. He had thoroughly explored Goa and wasn't keen on it this time. Gokarna, of late, was getting crowded too. Somewhere in the shelf at his Office was a copy of 'Lonely Planet' and he rushed to check it out.
He had to decide fast, find a good place and book it fast. All in tandem.
As he turned the pages of the book, something of an island lurked in the moving pages. He scanned them again and again till he found a page that mentioned Valiyaparamba in North Kerala.
It briefly mentioned of the beauty and the solace the place offered. Just two lines to be precise. And a mention in this guidebook meant that it was place to visit. Valiparamba Retreat was the name of the stay, he noted down the numbers and headed out.
Distance from the silicon city was about 10 hours by road and 14 hours by Train and 10 hours by the State Transport bus. He had second thoughts on the drive as it meant he won't be able to use his laptop, the way he could on a bus or a train.
Just then he realised that the reservation at the Retreat wasn't yet done and he quickly picked his phone and made the call frantically. To his surprise and luck, he got the confirmation on the phone. 'Was it an off season?' he asked himself but was thankful and happy nevertheless.
So between the train ride and the drive, it wasn't tough, The train ride would give him enough rest and time to catch up on work.
Shooting off a quick mail to his colleagues and client on this sudden plan, he quickly typed out without giving any second thought. The next time he logged in to check his mails to see if any sadistic response had reached his inbox, was when the train was treading the borders of Kerala. There weren't any mails, it was a weird feeling. Neither of happiness nor of detest. He picked up the half-finished autobiography and continued reading it. The train chugged and moaned at every station. The suspense of this destination was growing large on him.
After a few hours of road travel and a ferry, he reached the place. The headphones around his ears were quickly packed off into the trouser pockets. Adjusting the magenta tinted shades over his eyes, he saw the pristine greenery was jaded with magenta, it was time to remove that shade off his eyes. Thanking the auto-rickshaw driver, he began walking across the road without bothering to collect the change, and thru the gates checking the name-board once again. The swaying waters right across the road, in front of the gate of the retreat was a view that was worth ignoring the continuous tings from the phone. The breeze from the sea drew him by the collar to the edge of the property and lo behold - the might sea greeted him with blowing grains of sand across his face.
He threw his backpack, nodded at the waiting staff and realised that he had walked straight to the beach. The endlessness of the coast and the sea was stunning. The staff in-charge had followed him to the beach and was egging him if a cup of tea would be refreshing
He responded without looking at him and said "Let me have nothing except this. Let me experience nothingness"
The perplexed staff member replied appreciatively " Experience nothingness saar and when you need something just call me."