Jay picked backpacker’s guitar that was lying in the corner at Hope cafe, while Nikhil was still confused about what to order, when sitting in the cafe’s balcony I stared at Mun peak with her, it was partially covered with clouds, and the curve of Triund was clearly visible. I asked her, if she would like to visit Triund; there was a hint of yes in the sparkle of her eyes.
In the noise from a nearby construction site, I couldn’t hear what she was trying to tell me. I just saw her lips moving, while her hair flowed with the wind, in between covering her piercing brown eyes as she shouted once again,
“Talk to him.”
It was her boyfriend on the line, an old friend, who wanted me to make sure she had a great stay in Mcleodganj.
I introduced her to Jay.
Nikhil and I had reached earlier than him at the cafe, where she was about to volunteer as a teacher. Jay greeted her disinterestedly and continued strumming, while I sang along staring at an eagle flying across the balcony, circling above a prey it had seen. Meanwhile, Nikhil was busy discussing various food items on menu with her.
That flying eagle was reminding me of all the birds Nikhil saw flying across his office’s window before resigning, as he used to tell us. This time, it was a moment of freedom for her.
Nivedita sat huddled, feeling a bit awkward, when we met her for the first time there. And even though she told us that she had come to volunteer as a teacher, it wasn’t actual reason behind her visit, as we found out later.
Those were the last ten days of April, when we finally started working on our teaser video, and released it in a few days span. It did give us a push in the right direction, or as I thought was the right direction.
Plus, after Nivedita’s arrival, it became four of us, as we started hanging out together, exploring different parts of the town, trying different cuisines.
Nivedita and I also made a bucket list consisting of all the places we wanted to visit, during her stay in Mcleodganj. It was also when Nikhil had started packing his bags, there wasn’t much time left for his departure back home.
He left during the first week of May, but not before he hung out with me and Nivedita, while Jay was preferring to stay alone during those days; he was trying to escape the confusion that had surrounded him after the suddenness of decision to quit his job, and of my decision, about us leaving for Mcleodganj.
Then on one day, Nikhil and I were sitting in a shack with Nivedita, bonding over some aalu paranthas and chai, while a setting sun embraced the mountain range in front of us with its final glow.
Nivedita spoke about her life, her dreams and decision to travel alone for a month. She talked about her need for the freedom, which brought her to Mcleodganj under the pretext of volunteering.
It was her escape, just like our proposed venture was Jay’s and Nikhil’s.
Another great thing that happened during those days was when we discovered ‘platform’, a parapet in middle of the town, which not only provided a grand view of the whole Kangra valley but also provided an escape from the maddening crowd, that kept increasing at the onset of tourist season.
It wasn’t long before Jay and I started jamming at the platform, which became a big hangout place for us during the coming weeks. It not only provided us with peaceful moments, but also introduced us to many new people. It was our perfect escape, when the doubts haunted us during those days.
Moreover, after putting up our teaser video, we tried to shoot our first episode, which led to many awkward moments in front of the camera, as we mulled over various ideas we had in our heads.
And every time we were shooting our first episode, something felt missing. Jay used to be unusually quiet, while I was the most vocal one and Nikhil just agreed with me during those sessions. It wasn’t the perfect harmony we dreamt about, and I was the only one who couldn’t see it.
There was an uncertainity in the air, but I always chose to ignore it, and since Nikhil was about to leave for Mumbai in a few days, all I wanted was us to shoot as much footage as possible, to keep work flowing even in his absence.
We worked hastily, as I believed it was the right way to go, and the morning Nikhil left, we woke up at 5 AM to shoot our second episode, which was never uploaded. That was the end of our project, though it stayed around in our discussions, and strategies for few more weeks, but that was the last thing we ever did.
I was the one who chose to close his eyes, when precariousness of our plan stared at us.
However, the night before Nikhil left, we were sitting at the platform, jamming, when from the corner of my eyes I saw Nivedita walking towards us with a petite girl.
Shikha arrived on May 1st.