• Rahul Mahesh

ON BRUCE CHATWIN


BRUCE CHATWIN


It was a rather quiet afternoon somewhere in the middle of the lockdown last year. The future, as uncertain as it is now, I was moping about thinking of what to do with myself. There is a limit to which you can endure Coursera and there are not enough courses in the world that could ever really knead you out of the miserable state you are in. Besides my version of gourmet food, like any pretentious gourmet food, left me with a horrible aftertaste that makes me nauseous even to this day. I was at the peak of my existential agony when it came upon me that I should probably start reading again, rather aggressively. There is no better way to fight off the demons brewing the "misery concoction" in your brain than almost entirely disregarding. I understand that deflection and denial is not the healthiest of ways to deal with life problems, but at this point it had become a lifestyle.


While I was browsing through the Internet for book recommendations, I came across many a dry genres. Starting from crime thrillers of all kind: court thrillers, murder mystery, murder mystery court thrillers and the various combinations of the same. I was done with the suggestions and decided to look at travel destinations, since you can't go anywhere why not just let the internet take you to the good old days of untethered travel? This is where I came upon the rather interesting resume of Bruce Chatwin. I understand it was a long intro to an anti-climactic namedrop but stay with me. Many people do not know of Bruce Chatwin and that was the case when I chanced upon the man's work. So why talk about him , you ask? Well, the answer is simple. The man strings words together in a way that transcends reality taking you to places you have never been before, sights you have never even thought of seeing.


I do not want to spend this article writing who Bruce Chatwin is and what he writes, I am sure you would simply google the name and get it over with anyway. But I strongly suggest you do not do that. Pick up any of his books. Stay with it for a while. It may seem rather dull at times, it may even seen redundant or repetitive but that is the essence of his writing. It is not meant to sweep you off your feet, sensationalise every second with excitement to lubricate your intellectual libido. Chatwin's words are meant to tell you about life as it is. A long winded monotonous and sluggish walk punctuated by sprints of exhilaration and excitement. I have only read two of his books, In Patagonia and Songlines, two books about regions and cultures I hadn't had the slightest clue. He took me on a journey, I was alongside him breathing the air he breathed, talking to the people he talked to and nestling by the same fire he nestled next to on a cold Patagonian night. I was never much into travelogues and I blame YouTube for that. There are scores of people traveling around the world and making exquisite videos and all I can think of is: "I am not that rich, I am never fucking doing this." But Chatwin made me believe otherwise. There is a world out there so unexplored and uncharted that even when I am stuck indoors I could go there.


We do not have the slightest idea when things are going to come to normalcy. To have the freedom of traveling and meeting people without having to make them stand at an arm's length like you did back in your school assemblies! We all wish those things and not just an escape to Goa like most of you lot have made in that sliver of time. You know who you are. Bruce Chatwin made Patagonia my backyard trail and Australia just as far as my nearest junction. If books could take you to a land far away, now is the time to pick it up. Our bodies lay grounded to the present yet our mind can dream of a cocktail at some distant shore.


“I pictured a low timber house with a shingled roof, caulked against storms, with blazing log fires inside and the walls lined with all the best books, somewhere to live when the rest of the world blew up.”

- Bruce Chatwin "In Patagonia"



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