Travel Diaries Day 0: An Idea is Born

Picture courtesy: Adv. Soumitra Kundaikar
The first day of a multi-city trip has ended in Bangaluru.  Despite doing a lot of things and having some weird writing ideas, I am stuck at the beginning of the blog post. I don’t want a typical travelogue describing places, or a plain chronicle of activities. Instead, I will tell you the story of my intrepid travel-buddy whose emotional quotient is close to zero (a fact that he is proud of) and who often gives yours truly a run for his money in coming up with radical and ridiculous ideas.

“I have been thinking a lot about the concept of time and space lately” said the travel buddy as our plane took off. (He made very little sense to me and I am struggling to put his thoughts in words, so please bear with me.) “Time and space are related. Time is a measure of how fast ‘space’ moves a certain distance- space-as in a particular point of reference to which the mass moves. So, if you travel faster, and approach closer to the speed of light, time will slow down for you.” (If this felt a little heavy to digest, I apologise.)

I however, was in no mood to process such things. There was something else I wanted from this brilliant man. I had an idea; a solution to a pressing problem. It is still being worked on and this man in the key in the solution because he is blessed with high degree of emotional insensitivity and thus can ‘play’ with ideas without succumbing to pressure. But for that, he must first fall in love with the idea. And because he lives in the realm of path-breaking ideas, I call this man Il Sognatore, Italian for The Dreamer. (The Italian word is an inside joke among friends; I will explain later. Also, the man will be referred to as the Dreamer, or simply as ‘S’, which is short for Sognatore )

Here’s my idea:

After spending seven years working in the media, I had felt that negativity has become mainstream in industry. Mass media began as a mechanism to expose the flaws of our society but it has done nothing more than to spread fear and insensitivity in the society. People need encouragement and solutions to problems; we just give them a frightening description. Journalism needs to change.

Now, if I get this man excited about the idea, he will see to it that it is executed.

“This is an excellent idea!” the man wallowed like a baby elephant upon hearing the proposal. ““I think negativity has become mainstream because no one sells optimism in the kind of attractive packaging they have for the thrilling and disturbing content.”

As we deliberated on how best to make positive content look cool, the plane landed on Bangaluru’s Kempegowda International airport. It was a posh modern space sprawling with sophisticated people rushing to various destinations around the world. Branded outlets selling overpriced wears, neon signs, beaming faces in advertisements; all designed to make you very happy. But there is something else that makes me love big international airports. You get to overhear many intriguing conversations in the check-up lines and waiting lounges. In fact I have a very weird memory associated with Kempegowda airport in that regard.

I was waiting for a connecting flight on my way to Goa from Calcutta, and a few paces away from me sat two engineers on their way to the US. Their conversation told me that one of them was just back from Afghanistan! He worked for an American firm that supplied medical machinery to hospitals and the company had sent him to Afghanistan to supervise the setup of a new hospital there. He was given a bulletproof car with a driver, a nice bungalow, and two personal security guards who had become his good friends. This could provide juicy material for a story but who has patience to research on life in the Middle East?

A tap on the shoulder by ‘S’ brought me out of the reverie. “I have an idea.” He was staring at a large board displaying a face cream advertisement. “You could start a blog, a website, or a Youtube channel to start giving positive content, but it will take a lot of time till your message is heard. We need to ‘sell’ optimism, and that is a job for a business entity. A firm.”

“What are you trying to suggest?” oblivious to the brick that was about to hit me in the face, I walked calmly to the Ola Zone outside airport. “What if…” ‘S’ spit out the gum he had been chewing on board the plane. “What if we start our own partnership firm?”

I did not, could not immediately respond to that. ‘S’ is a criminal lawyer who is tired of the dark and brutal legal world and wants to try something new.  Starting a firm was his long cherished dream, but he did not know what exactly he wanted to do. Now I realised I might have just given him the answer.

The Dreamer is an honest man and a good friend, but I have some concerns about entering into business with him.

He and I have been friends for a decade, but we disagree on several issues. He is atheist libertarian; I am right-winged liberal. I am deeply influenced by the Slow Movement and Essentialism, and a bout of serious hyperacidity from overwork and overthinking has made me completely averse to stress. The Sognatore on the other hand loves high-pressure environment, chases uber life and pursues fast financial growth. We have remained friends despite all this because he does not impose his beliefs on others. He lives his life, you live yours. But in case we become business partners, he could drag me down a path of speed, risk, and pressure, and our disagreements could have catastrophic effect on our relations as well as the business (if we set one up).

These thought were running through my mind as the cab rolled ahead with the speed of a snail. Bangaluru looks posh and modern but is notorious for traffic jams. According to GPS, it would take us an hour and half to cover the 30-kilometer distance to the hotel. The cab driver was even more pessimistic than the GPS and pegged his estimate at two-and-a-half hours. Two hours after landing, we were still 15 kilometres away from our hotel, and we had avoided the Subway sandwiches available at the airport in the hope of catching an authentic South-Indian Dosa when we got to the hotel.We arrived after three hours, half dead from hunger.

The hotel stood close to the famous Snow World in Bangaluru, and true to its pictures on the Internet, the room was a clean, tidy place with free wifi. Unfortunately, we discovered that the hotel did not have its own restaurant. So, now we were back on the road fiddling with GPS on the phone, trying to search restaurants. The closest comparatively decent eatery was two kilometres away, and our plan to hire an auto thwarted by traffic congestion, we walked the whole distance.
Then we had a Dosa, hired an auto back to the hotel, and fell flat as soon as we were in our room.

Comments

  1. Very interesting write up. Simple and honest. Different yet thought provoking. Hoping to read more from this trip :)

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