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Plane-spotting

Posted on Posted in New Zealand

I am standing at the Majestic centre in the heart of Wellington. Majestic indeed, for it claims to be the tallest tower in Wellington, commanding unparalleled views. I look at the cerulean waters of the enclosed harbour, the crispy sunny skies and the beautiful chalets and apartments bedecking the hills, inching and spreading bit by bit on the slopes and tiringly claiming man’s victory over the world.

But what attracts – rather distracts – me is an aeroplane. First one, then two, and three…it goes on. The airport seems to be located behind the curtain of hills rising in front of the harbour. And it keeps on launching distractions until I focus on them instead of the hills. And in a minute, memories from my childhood come back to me. Memories that start on a cheerful note – as are all things childhood. I remember accompanying my dad to the airport of my hometown. I used to see him getting aboard while I would wave back to him furiously, thinking that the harder I waved, the more would he remember the farewell. Stupidity. Maybe innocence.

And then, after the farewell and the rush of departure, would seep in the melancholy of a ten year old. Melancholy because of the fact that dad just went away again. But I would realise later that there was another layer of sadness hidden behind the separation from family. That of a separation from the city. My city. My home. The fact that someone had to leave all ties from this city drove me into sadness. How would it feel to leave everything behind oneself? The question grew on me over the years and would wake up anew every time I would see a plane. Someone leaving everything behind to go to a new place, who knew where? Some new country, city, culture, where to?

Time fast forwarded in a blink. And then, suddenly 20 years later, here was I, on the other side. A traveller myself. Or maybe a vagabond. Somewhere far away. At one end of the world. A new city, a new country, far away from home. Perhaps, somewhere on the way, the definition of ‘home’ had also changed a long time back. It seemed like one of those moments when you look back at everything that happened to explain the one moment that was ‘now.’ All those defining moments which force you to choose at cross roads so that you keep moving and moving until you look back and find a maze of paths that cannot be retraced. Only to realise, there’s one path – that, ahead…

Another plane whizzes past, bringing me back to my present. Reminding me, I will have to take another flight very soon today. Others may see a high flying professional, but what do I see? A wanderer, who, trapped in the ambiguity of home and beyond, is happy that there is at least a path that joins the two. Alas, which way he goes, I do not know. But what I do know is even after all these years, there is that fine balance between curiosity and melancholy. Curiosity that there is a new world at the far end of the world. Melancholy, that a ten year old still looks back and realises he has gone far, far away…

 

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