There is this fancy word ennui [ pronounced onwee]. Look it up if you will. Whatever you get out of the meaning, in a nutshell it feels like “damn nothing is moving”. For me, more than a place in life, it is being in a place for too long, without heading out. And it is not a good feeling. It is like how Captain Haddock feels without his poison. Thousands of blue blistering barnacles. Or a serial relationship person feels being single. That time is slipping away. And he or she is growing old and will never find anyone. Or a workaholic being jobless… you get the picture am sure.
When I was growing up, a juicy pack of orange cream biscuits and an Amar Chitra Katha every week from the good parents kept any form of ennui away. Also the fact that that is not the age this dreaded word strikes. And even if it does, you think you must be just hungry and raid the cake box. With adulthood came the pleasure of free will, freedom and travel. Which fast become the antidote to ennui. But also came jobs, responsibility, leaking pipes, car breakdowns and plumbing weekends. And the ease with which a pack of orange cream or a comic book appeared on my lap every Friday, is not the ease with which I found myself on the highway.
The feeling of being trapped or any form of shackle tends to play havoc with the sense of well-being. And hence the mood swings. And no, just because am a woman, it’s not PMS. It is more of EMS. Ennui mental syndrome. It can strike anyone, and is normally characterized by a feeling of listlessness towards life. But if it strikes a travel happy itchy feet, the world suddenly feels moving in slow-mo, or hanging in suspended animation.
For crabby periods like these [ pun intended], I have a few handy tips. If I can drag myself out of the sloth this feeling brings and get on with these, they work fine enough for me to not want to bite people’s head off.
Plan a trip. If you are the breed who likes to delegate it to others, or a breed that likes to just pick up the bag and go without any planning, try this once, if the ennui bug has bitten you. It can be like comfort food. Reassuring, filling of the void, and nostalgic of good times. At the least, it will give you browsing and musings of places you desire to go to. And a hopeful surge of spirits. You will also have a solid plan, that is raring to go as soon as schedule, pockets and company aligns together.
Discover your own city.
We tend to take the city we live in so much for granted. A classic relationship syndrome. We stop discovering new things. Are quite nonchalant about the easy beauty that outsiders get excited about. Stop attaching the word ‘exploring’ to stepping out, and literally stop digging around. I remember making a day trip to the famous prison of Alcatraz, in the bay area, from San Francisco. A prison known to house the famous american gangster, the much dreaded Al Capone. A prison featured in many famous Hollywood flicks, with an audio guide so touching that it would leave you feeling wistful about life and lucky to have your freedom. And yet, many of my friends and family in the area who have been there for years, still haven’t taken a ferry across to the island. I grunted at their lack of excitement with this little piece of jewel. But I am yet to visit the Delhi National Museum myself after spending many years in this city. While I have lined up in front of many museums across the world. Guilty as blogged.
The next best thing:
This totally depends on you and what you like. What is almost as enjoyable, if not exactly. The only two rules should be that it should be a longish project [ or else it would be less absorbing], and it should be fulfilling. I find a strange energy flow in getting rid of old clothes, hoarded junk, emptying out piles of redundant paper, refurbishing old furniture or a dowdy looking corner of the house. It is also therapeutic. And takes up a lot of time. And most importantly, productive.
While I do realize in my limited wisdom that any form of restlessness or EMS requires a solution more from within, I also know that a slow learner like me will take my time getting to that state of mind. Till then am happy counting time with my temporary solution. And as I stuff my backpack for a quick trip to Ajmer I can feel the antidote kicking in. Looking forward to the dargah, sunset over the Pushkar lake, 3 friends and a train ride, life seems the right kind of meaningful again.