Ulus, Ankara

All those hours in Bombay traffic give rise to a feeling that one is going somewhere and that, subconsciously, you’re a part of a large crowd that is purposeful. That your purpose and destination is greater than the next guy in the traffic is a matter of entitlement that comes when you’re persisting at something. Since you’ve been at it so long, you must have it. However, travelling across Turkey on almost unoccupied roads gave me neither – not a feeling of going somewhere nor a sense of pseudo-entitlement. There was an absolute sense of suspension. There are no interruptions on your ride, and hardly any other cars or buses around. All you can see is the open sky and changing landscape, and wherever you’re going just seems to be your business. There’s a listlessness in how the surroundings treat you. Sometimes, I admire that sort of self-assurance where every element in the universe knows its purpose and we don’t need to cling to each other to get by. That doesn’t happen often, though, and rightly so.

The next stop on my international wanderlust list is Paris. The idea is to buy a return ticket, stay in a hostel for 2 weeks without journeying to Dijon, Nice, Champagne or anywhere else, walk around the city, and just be. After going around Ankara, today, Paris seems like the perfect next place to be. Simply because Paris is a capital city; and so far I have seen two capital cities: Delhi and Ankara. It hasn’t escaped my notice that extra care is taken of them – like they were the youngest in the family. There is enough attention showered on capital cities – be it roads, trees, important buildings, and even enough political evidence in the form of tangible, gigantic structures. That I couldn’t seem to find a post office to send a postcard back home to a close friend is a different matter altogether. Now, I’m curious to see the capital cities of other countries, and so Paris it is.

Ankara is a surprise – like that kid you heard not-so-flattering things about, but when you see it for yourself, it turns out to be a silent spectacle. If I could whistle, I would let out a slow, soft one so that only the linden trees could hear me. Unsurprisingly, the Mausoleum of Ataturk – the founder of the Republic of Turkey – is a vast expanse of a playground that has only a sarcophagus and a small museum at the center. The rest of the space is dedicated to flowers, trees, and roads leading in and out where you could set up a small city in itself. Since this mausoleum is at a height, you can see the city sprawled down below with the brown rooftops peeking out and poking the grey clouds that seem to have descended on the place. I walked down one of the deserted roads which had changing trees on one side and a field full of dandelions on the other. After a lot of walking, I decided to stand and breathe in the air, like F told me to. As I did so, the wind blew through the tree in front of me, and I was bathed in small, yellow leaves.

It rained leaves on me, today. If that’s not being pampered, I don’t know what is.

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P.S.: Jumping on the bed has been accomplished.