More often than not, I am in two places at the same time. One part of me is wherever I am to be found physically. The other is somewhere in the hills, or by the ocean, or on a barren stretch of land bathed in moonlight, or on a highway in the rain, or in the College chapel, or the Ridge, or Rajarhat, or Dakshineshwar, or Marine Drive, or NH-8, or the 14th milestone, or the terrace of the Bhuvaneshwari temple back home...you get the drift.
This evening, I found that half of myself sitting quietly on the terrace of the Bhuvaneshwari temple.
I haven't actually been there since May 2010 - and my last visit was in the morning, so it has been a while since I spent time there during and after the evening aarti at the Krishna temple. It's about a thousand square feet of marble flooring, cordoned on three sides with steel railing, the fourth opening into the Krishna temple. The entire complex is situated on a hill overlooking most of the city. At dusk, when the aarti begins, this place is the closest thing to perfect peace that I know of. It's a childhood memory that has slowly evolved into a balm for the seemingly enormous troubles that young adulthood brings.
Given the altitude of the location, there is nearly always a breeze blowing quietly. Lights are aglow in every house in the city, and the sun is suspended over the horizon for a brief moment before settling in for the night. Stars begin to make a tentative appearance, twinkling into attendance, as it were, for the aarti. Like the lights materialising on the plain below and on the inky firmament, scores of diyas are glowing all over the terrace in the fast-falling darkness. The old brass bell in the temple chimes out the hour for the evening prayers. The air smells of camphor and sandalwood, mingled with the fragrance of hundreds of beli buds - or mallipoo, as the priest at the temple taught me when I was still a lisping four-year-old with two front teeth missing. He's been around for as long as I can remember - which means he has been at that temple for at least twenty years now.
I'm working on a report due tomorrow...but that is where I was this evening.