Rakesh had once taken a few of us bikers there. Today, I went just by myself. Rode around the town for half an hour. Talked to a couple of local folks. And when I say I talked to a couple of local folks, I must have covered a large percentage of the population there.
With a sum total population of 64 (and declining), it is reputed to be the third largest town in Georgia. It sits in a beautiful part of the North Georgia mountains next to a few rural mountain roads and a state highway.
The town came of being right after the Civil War due to the railroad built thru it. In fact, as you can see in the picture, there is a old carriage sitting there still with the welcome to the city message on it…
… I know exactly what I will do to remember our times together… watch Phineas and Ferb!! I am sure I will be too old to do the things we do today – calculus or crosswords or 9×9 Kenkens or try to beat the 15 minute deadline to write out all country names in Sporcle – but I can always watch Phineas and Ferb.
We simply love the humor. Nothing like dad and daughter enjoying some simple humor. The elder one had decided by this age that dad is something to be embarrassed of. This one has not gotten to that point yet!
Our favorite episode is the Baljeetles… Baljeet – the Indian kid who always scores A and loves doing math (the stereotype is true!!) has this conversation with Phineas and his adopted brother with British accent (and who seldom talks)…
Phineas: “What do you do when you are angry?”
Phineas: “Ok… what about when you are sad?”
Phineas: “So every feeling you have makes you want to do math?”
Baljeet: “I do not know if it is so much cause and effect…. I do a lot of math. The feelings come and go.”
In a class of correlation (versus causation), that would be a mic drop moment!
About a year and a half back, I had the craziest serendipity. Got to meet this young gentleman in an elevator and had he not ignored the notice in the elevator about which button to press, I would have probably never gotten to know him. Or realize that he grew up in my neighborhood. Went to our high school too!
Turned out Lucky and his girlfriend Lesly were at his parent’s place (in our small little town). Last week, finally, we found an evening for the four of us to go out for a drink and dinner in an open mall.
It was thoroughly an absorbing discussion. While Lucky and Lesly are still ways away from being half my age, the discussions were of great gravity and import. This included the larger purpose of life, relative importance of work (or not) and what throws us off the pursuit of happiness.
It was a great evening. I hope to run into them more often and have some more of those discussions. Truly impressed by the intelligence and the wisdom of the young folks of today.
I remember in 1980 my sister had learnt how to sing this song. And I had accompanied her on the tabla. That was forty years back. The words and the tune are by the famous Bengali poet – Nazrul Islam.
“Musafir! mochh re aankhijol
Phirey chol aponaarey niya
Aponi phhutechhilo phool
Giyaachhhey aponi jhoriya
Re pagol! Eki durasha
Jol-e tui bnadhbi baasa
Metey na hetaa-y piyasa
Heta naai trishna doriya”
“Oh wayfarer! wipe your tears
Let’s return; collect yourself
The flower that had bloomed itself
Has also shed on its own
Oh madcap! what insane hope is this
That you will build your home on water
Your thirst won’t be quenched here
There is no fountain of elixir here”
That is what I thought the young gentleman asked as we ran past each other in the trail yesterday. I was not too sure since I had the Airpods on. He did look somewhat familiar as he passed me – but I was not sure at all.
But I heard the voice again a couple of seconds after he had passed me. I looked back to realize that I was clearly the subject of his address.
My mind was racing to map that face to all the Avijits I knew. Somewhere from the subconscious, bits of memory started flying around – beer, gin, airport, long hair… Finally, I thought I had pinned that face down. But I still had lingering doubts.
“I could not recognize you past your hair band”, I finally told him.
“Yes, the hair has grown too long in this virus season”.
This is the second time in my life I met Avijit.
Nine months back. It was end of October. I had a whirlwind trip to India to check on my parents, mother in law and the family. I remember checking in for my return flight a little early (the flight is at a God-awful hour of 3:30 in the morning or something) at Kolkata airport and heading straight to the business lounge. Whereas everybody was enjoying the sofa, lounge chairs and food there, I went and occupied one of the two chairs at the bar.
I was too tired. I just wanted to sit down by myself and enjoy a gin. There was absolutely nobody at the bar.
Eventually, the bar person showed up.
“Apni? Kemon aachhen? Kobey elen?”, he recognized me straightaway from all my quarterly visits. Apparently, I visit bars too often! After exchanging pleasantries and enquiring after his family, I asked for my gin and tonic.
Now if you ever go to that bar, you will notice that there is beer, wine and vodka in the shelf but no gin. But I knew what I was doing.
“Sure!”, he said and fished the one bottle of gin he keeps stacked underneath a hidden shelf. It is not the best gin – but it is gin alright. With Schweppes.
So, there I was. Finally united with my gin and tonic and catching up on my blog writing, when another young guy came up and sat at the other chair. And he got himself a beer.
I am not sure who opened the conversation (99% chance it was me) but soon I found out that he was in the same flight as I. I figured he was going to Doha and then like me will be flying to his work / home… I was headed to Atlanta.
“Where are you headed to?”
“Do you live there?”
“Which flight from Doha?”
“You live there? Or are you heading out to somewhere from there?”
“No, I live in Atlanta”
By this time he was a little bemused at my inquisitiveness. To ease things, I let him know that I lived in Atlanta area too!
Well, that was a surprise! What is the chance I would sitting in a bar in Kolkata airport by myself and the guy sitting next to me was also heading to the same destination?
As the evening progressed, we found out that Avijit – he had introduced himself as Avijit – lived in Sandy Springs (about 10 miles from where I live) and that we had a few common friends.
Also, I found out that he preferred gin and tonic too but never realized that there was hidden stash and he simply had to ask for it!!
In fact, I remember that Sharmila and I had dropped him and his wife and daughter at their house. (They had come by train to pick him up). So all of us got to meet each other.
And that was that.
Till I heard that familiar voice calling out “Rajib-da!” again yesterday!!
It was good running into you Avijit again. I think two chance meetings should be hint enough. Next one, we probably should plan out, what do you say?
Came very close to the milestone in May but missed it by 4K. Ironically, three years back, this month was a 100 mile (160K) month for me. Motorcycle and stamina have eaten into my miles. Let’s see how long I can keep up wioth this.