Ever since I was a child, I have loved the open road. I remember those childhood days, when we’d be in the school bus, going to school in the hills. After travelling for a day through the dusty days of India, suddenly the hills would rise from the dust and haze. That’s when the magic of the mountains always entered our souls, and we’d thrill with excitement.
Yes, being on the road sets you free. The open spaces beckon, and the skies open up to infinity. There are those times when we are blessed with the momentary realization that the universe is spreading up, and all around us.
I shot this image several years back while doing a solo road trip in the central heartland of India. This was my first solo trip and followed up with a few after that. I must confess to being slightly nervous when I did this trip. The further you go into the central heartland, the more you realize you are putting your life in Fate’s hands. We have known the area for Thugs and dacoits. I have capitalised the word ‘thug’. The Thugs were bands of stranglers and murderers who roamed much of India until the end of the 19th century. Then, the dacoits emerged. Most of the notorious ones ended in jail in the last few decades of the 20th century. However, much of this area is still lawless. Mahatma Gandhi may have, for a few decades, projected the notion that Indians are peace-loving and, mostly, we are. However, there are places where you may not want to venture into at night.
And taken comfort in my somewhat long lifeline on the palm of my hand, I left Delhi.
It was not until I crossed Agra that I got the sensation of driving on a highway. It was just one long urban sprawl, and I drove through town after town.
As soon as I crossed Agra, the highway suddenly opened out, and the sensation of freedom and abandonment flowed through me. There are times when you are suddenly free, as though something broke the chains that bind you. It was like breaking free from the chains of humanity and letting the infinite in.
I don’t curse humanity, but when you are constantly rushing from place to place, there is very little mental space to appreciate the open skies.
So, when I crossed Agra, I parked my car on the side of the road and just let the air into my lungs.