It was last Sunday. Was thinking of taking an afternoon nap. Was not much sleepy – so thought would go for a small ride on my little gondola down the memory lane. Often I do. Explore the short and sweet memories of my life. Those are the jewels I have preserved with care – can’t get them back but often go near and see and cherish and come back. I was rich, really.
So, started my gondola and went quite far that day – reached 2008 March. I found myself in a car with four of my colleagues. I was in the back seat near the left window. It was an AC car – all windows closed. I was wearing a jacket too – so assumed it was cold outside. Tried to see outside – it was all dark. Looked at the face of my colleagues – these are the guys whom I have not worked with for long. Looked outside again – some long trees and exit signs. Then remembered – its US and we are heading towards Atlantic City.
It was a three and half hours journey from Secaucus to Atlantic city. If you have never been to US, it will be difficult to understand how the roads are and how the driving rules are. You can’t drive at a higher speed than the specified limit – everywhere there is either a camera or a sensor or a police van or some watchdog that keeps watching what you are doing and what speed you are driving at. Little higher speed and police will appear from all possible strange corners to put you in the back seat. It may be a mere point on your driving scorecard or a fine or some warning message. Well, you can’t drive at a lower speed either because then you are intentionally obstructing other people.
I was thinking all that – suddenly saw some lights. There is a small coffee shop around the corner. I saw there was an old man sitting at the counter. There was no customer at all. Lot of questions came to my mind – who is this person? How long will he wait for someone to come and ask for a coffee? Where is his home? I looked at the watch – it was 12 midnight. Why is he still there in the shop? I asked my colleague to stop the car – he didn’t stop, he didn’t want to. Who wants to stop just to satisfy curiosity of knowing an old man in the coffee shop counter? Our car passed by – I was sure I would never meet that person again and my questions will remain as questions throughout my life.
We saw some more lights. It was a city – skyscrapers, shops, restaurants, cars. Everywhere in US, the same template exists. Big empty roads, longer than life, disjoint and scattered cities here and there, money and poverty, rich and poor, frustration and happiness. Music was slightly loud – to keep the driver awake. I think I still fell asleep for a while. Someone called me – look, Atlantic City! I opened my eyes and saw few massive buildings in front of me. I tried to read “Ballys, Borgata, caesars, Trump Plaza and what’s that? Taj Mahal ??? here ?? I looked with bewilderment. These are the casinos and resorts where millions of dollars are thrown in the air. Many people lose their status to come out of these buildings as beggars and few come out as Kings. Wanted to see what’s in and got down. What was there?
– well, will tell you some other day.