(This post was written months ago- I let it lie on the Desktop till now…)
‘Death. My favourite topic. Been wondering about death ever since my hormones started jangling. Why? When? Where? There was a time when I used cower with fear thinking about my final moment. Now, after a few brushes with the event, I find myself pretty calm about it. Maybe that’s the only real progress I have made in life. I am beginning to grasp the theory of impermanence. The holy detachment to everything, including one’s life.’
P G Tenzing – Don’t Ask Any Old Bloke for Directions - Penguin Books,
I have never owned a car. My father had one long ago. It was a Studebaker Champion, circa early 1950s model. I was a little kid then, in my primary classes. I remember that huge black car; I had to walk, to reach from one end to the other of its rear seat! The longest trip we went in the Studebaker was to
Ask any bike aficionado. The exhilaration that a bike ride offers is far more than a ride inside the cocoon of a car. Exposed to elements, the intimacy with the surroundings is something hard to get in a car. There is something raw about riding a bike. As Pirsig would have said, there is oneness with the rest of the world. So I have gone around in scooters and motorcycles. Given a choice between a Mercedes and a Harley-Davidson, I would opt for the Harley, any day.
I had never met Mr. Tenzing, though both of us have spent considerable number of years in the same place,
Mr. Tenzing is no more. He passed away on 26th July 2010, at the young age of 46. He had terminal cancer of the blood. I read eulogies about him, how good an officer he was, how charming, friendly and absolutely in love with Kerala, about his long ride.
Reading the book is like riding the pillion behind Mr. Tenzing as he speeds his bike fast and furious across
But there is a great pleasure in living life on an impulse, which is something that ordinary mortals can only fantasize; something only a few like Mr. Tenzing could do. You sigh, as you read the last line of the page because you realize that this is something you will never dare to do.
There are certain images that you retain in spite of the racy ride. Mr. Tenzing’s great love for Kerala where he spent most of his adult life, his amusing irreverence for politicians and officialdom, his courage in chucking the most prestigious job in India, his deep feeling for Sikkim, the caricatures of people whom he introduces to you and the darkness of India as he passes through Bihar, Jharkand and UP. His language is fluent and modern. There is rapidness in his words like the revving of a bike. Yet Mr. Tenzing exposes himself at an unaware moment or two; like when he mulls over the death of a cousin and his own death.
Mr.Tenzing - can I call you PG, like your friends did? – PG doesn’t mince words when it comes to criticizing the baboos and politicians and the Great North Indian Attitude. His verbal slaps are, for the reader, a cause for huge merriment. PG is sitting in a hotel somewhere in Himachal being served by a fellow from Andhra Pradesh in south
It is good to learn that such a man lived among us. A man who dared; and cared.
I am leaving it here, PG. If people want to read you, let them. Who knows, some youngster might be inspired by you; and another, yet another…
Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 24-11-2010