Today, after a long time, I walked the streets of Ahmedabad.
It’s been nearly 3 years that I have lived in the city. Like any other outsider, when I first got here, I didn’t know my way around. I relied on others to take me places. But slowly, I found my geographical bearings. I came to know the city through her buses, her chugadas (shuttle rickshaws) and with my own two feet. I have traveled the city, taking new streets and expecting intersections, but found out from a series of wrong turns that she follows the meander of the river and in fact is more like a half-circle than a grid. Through my exploration, I have come to know parts of the city better than born Amdavadis.
Today after a long time, I took to her streets again. I sought to be alone. One would expect that I could find this in the isolation of my flat, where I live alone, but that was not the case. I found isolation in the noise of the streets. The focus became the few feet in front of me, the noise of the street dimmed away and I could hear my thoughts clearly.
As I walked, I recalled a philosophy lecture that Guruji once gave, where he spoke of tirth dhams or places of pilgrimage. People go to these places to be alone, which seems ironic as theu are swelling with people. Yet the reality is that within the chaos of Kumbh Mela, the crowds at Badrinath, the masses at Mecca, one finds isolation. The crowds give way to solitude.
So the noise of the street faded away as I walked the familiar streets of Ahmedabad. The honking cars and street chatter did not disturb me, but rather like a mother’s voice, gave me comfort and lulled my troubled mind. Confusion, fears and thoughts slipped away with each step and merged into the background, and the constant hum of the noise enveloped me with peace. In the bustle of the streets, I found my solitude as I walked the streets of Ahmedabad once more.