yeh shaam bhi ajeeb hai
woh kal bhi aas-paas thi
woh aaj bhi kareeb hai
Travels often make you realise a lot. I shall share with you some moments about the recent trip to
Khalid Ahmed is an actor-director-activist and now in charge of the Beyond Borders (its website is in the initial stages of being set up) collaboration between
It just so happens that on all my trips my last day is spent at his place. He has a beautiful terrace apartment. This was the first time I was taking pictures. The breeze was blowing, my hair flying…and he served dinner early, only to accommodate me.
Khalid is enigmatic, intense and might appear a bit reserved. But when he opens up and decides to talk, his single-line perceptiveness is enough to take one straight to the essence. Without realising it he opened my eyes to a few things around me.
Riaz Rafi is an artist and a most caring human being. He too threw a party for me, and ended up inviting an eclectic mix. It was embarrassing when I did not recognise some very famous people. On earlier trips I had spent evenings on his terrace talking or listening to Khalid break into song…he’d bring up plastic chairs from his house. Recently, his terrace has been done up, divans, sofas, and his little pup. He is married now. I was getting hungry and told him, “Please khaana.” When the food was served, his wife, who I was meeting for the first time, came and whispered, “Aapke liye bilkul teekha nahin banaya hai.” I was so touched. He had remembered after three years.
Three years ago. I do not even know whether Rafi would put me in the league of his friends (heck, he does not have these silly categories and hierarchies), but yes he had been a friend when I needed a friend most. And he did it without appearing to reach out, help, or anything grandiose. He made it seem as though he needed someone to talk with.
I was at my most vulnerable (my divorce was on the way) and probing into the details of my life would have been the easiest thing; he did not do that. Instead, he just stayed around. It was to be about five days and in this time I discovered what essential humaneness means.
One day, after the others had left and we had eaten nothing, he just drove me to a diner and ordered food in the car. This was most caring because he knew I did not want to step out...and he invariably made it a point to talk about himself, so that for those few hours I could forget what was bothering me.
Yes, he did boost my morale, but not with hollow words; he did it by showing me that there was life beyond the smallness of things.
On my last day there, as I had an early morning flight to catch, he suggested I check out at night, take my bags over to his place where some friends were meeting, go out for dinner, get back and rest and he would drop me at the airport. He did not have to do any of this. He got nothing from me, except some laughter, some truths about life.
I did not take my bags. I did not tell him I wanted to return to the hotel because I had to take a picture of the room. But my camera does not have a very wide-angle lens...sometimes in life one can never capture what one is going through...
R often told me, "Bas, life enjoy karein aap." And I would say, yes, yes, I do and I will...he does not seem the kind to sit and calculate who means how much to him...he is not the kind to choose anyone over another...
I had just a little over an hour to leave for the airport...Khalid wanted an ice-cream, so we drove to the place by the sea. Later, they dropped me at the door of my hotel and what I saw in those eyes was truly memorable -- the sense of having shared some wonderful moments without malice, without exploiting, without talking big. There was honesty in those eyes, even if they may have been only for a brief time.
Some eyes you can trust...they don’t turn around and fling your own tears at you.
- - -
PS: I was so happy that I captured Rafi in the split second without a flash that I have added a title to the pic! Isn't it beautiful?