Monday, February 21, 2011

Tour Guides

Sam and Mithun had a dream. They wanted to showcase their land, its magic, its charismatic beauty and perturbing realities to the rest of the world. They wanted the world to visit their place. They wanted to be the people in the lime light, the crucial players of the game called tourism, to be tour guides.

When you are creatively active, when the flow of the organic serums accountable for creativity runs smoothly, you deem of things that are unthinkable and often close to insanity. You realize it only when the serum gets blocked. 

Resource acquisition: Sam had heard that term during one of the seminars conducted in his College on tourism. The presenter was a Professor from the UK. ‘She looked gorgeous, man!’ Sam had commented the other day to Mithun, when they met on the only drive-in beach in the whole of India, Muzhappilangad, their place, their dream destination; the place that was going to be their lucky charm.

‘But what is this so-called Resource Acquisition?’—Mithun had asked that day, trying to sound interested in the high sounding term.
‘It is nothing but making sure the providing of resources to tourists or whoever visits a place’—Sam had explained.
‘What are the resources?’ Mithun asked this time with genuine interest.
‘Resources are nothing but facilities, like toilet, restaurants, water facilities, etc.’ A node from Mithun had settled the affairs.

They had been moving on since then. Thinking, analyzing, and working on the possibilities of the drive-in beach. And almost after three weeks the realization came that it was possible for them to do anything and everything if and only if they had some first hand idea about the beach and its surroundings. ‘It is possible to live our dream, da,’ said Mithun one day, older in age than Sam by two years. Advice? May be. But Sam had liked it then, even now, but with some changes.

Priscilla Ahn was singing in his mind. “I have a dream….” The globalization impact? Mithun had a positive outlook towards it. ‘The multi-dimensional possibilities.’ He used to say.

And they decided to materialize that day: the one-day visit to the sand stretch from the Muzhappilangad driving beach to the Dharmadam Islet. ‘It is a piece of paradise, man. People will love it.’ Sam screamed, as the thought of their study tour popped in his mind, in excitement. They both had seen the Islet at a distant view. The drive-in beach too was an unthought-of adventure. Not many people go there usually, neither foreigners nor natives; the wretched of the earth. Not because it lacked in natural splendour or beauty, but mainly due to the difficulty in getting to that place and the lack of any sort of basic facilities. The highway was located one kilometer from the beach. The approach road to the beach was a mess with potholes arranged within a neat copy-book style black surface, which people called ‘road’.

‘Ah, no one would dare to drive-in here, buddy.’ Mithun stated as an auto rickshaw dropped both of them on the entrance to the beach. They came out with their backs curved in, like bows from the jerking ‘auto-journey’. ‘Our tourists would need a massage center for the health of their spinal cord. We need to keep that in mind, too.’ Mithun added.

‘An Ayurvedic medical centre as well,' Sam said and made an ear to ear bright grin. They were on their work, professional Tour Guides; they cherished that thought more than being in the beach themselves. ‘You are the writer; write something about this paradise turned hell.’ Mithun turned and looked at Sam in his eyes. Sam blinked with the two hollow balls on his face. He had no idea what to think and how had this paradise turned into hell; may be the auto-journey was what he meant. His head was a hollow balloon, covered with a calcium carbonate skull. He thought of something he hadn't told his friend yet, that day: he was in a writer’s block.

Sam was indeed the writer. And writing about the beach and its possibilities was one among their project plans too. The need for publicity for their venture would be thus met with. Sam would publish his articles on the beach and the wonders it offers in magazines and news papers ‘and people would read it and they would be so excited to visit this place, and if possible you can also write a book on our beach and then your fans would flock up to grab their much coveted signed book from their author. And you know what; we will organize the book signing function, here; right here, in the lap of the Arabian Sea.’

‘Oh, just shut up, man. Sometimes your mouth opens too much. Gimme a break, now! Focus on what we arrived here for.’ Sam quieted his friend.
‘I noticed from the moment we met today that you are really grave. What is the matter? What happened? Is anything wrong?’ Enquired Mithun.
Yes, there indeed, was. ‘Too many questions. Donno what. But I had not been able to write anything for many days.’  
They decided to walk through the drive-in beach. It was a long way to the Islet, may be about five kilometers. Their plan was to cross the whole distance to Dharmadam Islet walking through the beach. And they planned a great trekking experience for the future tourists who visit the shores of Dharmadam and Muzhappilangad. Something more pleased them: they were the ones to walk this route for the first time.

A surprise encounter awaited them. They were almost hit by a car from behind. Almost, but Mithun who was in his wide-eyed-excitement located the vehicle just in time shooting in their direction in the velocity of time. The fact that they were still alive was not enough to prove their skipping out of harms way in time to be believable. It was very close. ‘Killing beach,’ Mithun murmured. Sam looked at him pleased with the creative spark in his reaction. Or was there? It was hard for him to tell. Still, those two words were packed in with an artistic possibility, he felt. He shook his head, yes. 

This could be one of the bad experiences if you are in a writer’s block, don’t you think so. You see your art, living, maneuvering in wilderness, like a deer in front of a hunter without weapons. You will close your eyes, forcefully, for not seeing those scenes that you know sure to be potentially capable of filling your belly full of inspiration. Writing seriously has to do something with belly. It begins with a churn in the stomach; I remember reading it somewhere. One of these characters too felt it the same way; a churn in the belly; and a little bit more than that.

Sam felt nausea. That is what happens when you are in a writer’s block? No. But he had stepped upon something like a rotten squid. His eyes were fixed on the sea, wide and grey. He looked around on the ground. There were many sea creatures, dead washed onto the shore by the waves, which were eternally made to lay rest there. ‘It is terrible, da,’ Mithun pressed his nostrils close with a disgusting gesture. ‘Hey, it’s a possibility for you. You can write about the blindfold governance of the beach, in your blog, at least,’ he continued.

‘Stop, man. Let me think,’ Sam made him stop talking and went to the water to wash his feet. ‘The drivers are killing a lot of sea creatures washed on to the shore, aren’t they?’ he asked Mithun, not to make him feel hurt from the ‘stop’ call. But Mithun kept quiet. ‘In India, it is not the possible for the private sector to make direct investments in beach tourism such as making beaches private properties. There are legal limitations. So there is a treasure, but no treasure hunters yet or at least, not in a big scale. The wealth is hidden, untapped.’ Sam made a speech, partly to bring Mithun to speak something and partly to get his thoughts out in order. He forced his attention on the surroundings of the beach in order to avoid Mithun’s silence.

He wanted to react, to write, to announce he is alive, but his only weapon, his quill was lost somewhere in the confusion inside his mind. Does the confusion give rise to block or vice versa? Who knows?

Under the vast blue sky near the endless cadence of the waves a variety of Weeping Evergreen trees bordered the beach, with coconut palms at a distance. There on the ground, near by the Willow there was a creeper with violet flowers, which resembled a funnel. Both of them walked towards the flowers to take some pictures and make a map of the surroundings. But Mithun was still silent.

Walking over the sand was like pushing yourself forward while being pulled back by some mysterious force. They were close to the flowers. When Sam heard Mithun again, his voice was a scream, pulling him back, ‘STOP!’ The flowers were beautiful. Why was he stopping Sam, the suffering writer? ‘Look down,’ Mithun said pointing his finger down near Sam’s foot.  

‘I knew this before. So I was careful. Anyway you escaped narrowly,’ Mithun said and smiled. He knew this before because he was from this place. Sam was from the city, Kannur. Mithun was native of the village, Muzhappilangad. He would very well be aware of the temperaments of the place: open air excretion, and its exhibition; the pre-historic temperament. Sam was about to step up on human excreta: shit!

While they walked all the way back to the high way; walk they had to, as there were no auto rickshaws available; Sam thought of an interesting parallel: with the death of a dream, a story is born.

‘I don’t want to work on this project anymore, until the people of this place realize their mistakes. I tried a lot to fight this feeling back though, but now it is too much, da.’ Mithun declared his withdrawal, Sam agreed as they both approached the highway, exhausted from the walk.

The story does not end here. Three weeks later Sam wrote a story about their visit, which ended with a conversation between his two characters:

‘Someone has to take up the responsibility to clean all this mess up,’ said Sam.

‘But who would take the responsibility? We two are helpless, what can we do?’ Asked Mithun; more as a query than an attempt to evade. 
‘What about our dream? What about being tour guides?’ Sam asked.
Mithun smiled and spoke: ‘There are other places, too.’

The Days that are No More--3

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the observer said...

" The Wretched of the earth?" the jargons you have used undoubtedly produces an effect typical to post colonial countries; the predicament of the people of 3rd world nations. But if I attempt a post colonial reading there are a lot I can problematize. But what you have written is true and I can't ignore the truth...

Anu Lal said...

Thanks bro.

Tarun Mitra said...

Thanks Anu I am honored :)

Anu Lal said...

You are welcome Tarun