The Link.

When I saw The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry, I immediately knew this was the book I needed to read. I didn’t know why though. It probably had to do with Alexandria, the lost library of Alexandria in ancient Egypt. Or perhaps it had to do with the fact that it was a thriller book. But little did I know that it was the mixture of both. It is the second book in the Cotton Malone’s series, where the story revolves around Malone who is the former Justice Department operative.In the Alexandria Link, Malone’s son gets kidnapped by unknown enemy who wants to trade him for the information on the Alexandria Link. Alexandria Link is a code word for a Palestinian biblical scholar who is said to be dead but his location is only known by Malone. With his former wife, Malone goes on the journey of saving his son in 72 hours and along the way he takes help from his friends.

While reading the book, the first thing I realized was the fact that my father would have enjoyed this book. My father loved action thrillers, both in movies and books. His favorite includes Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum. He was the one who introduced me to this genre. While reading Alexandria Link, I was taken back to the time, right after my tenth grade when father and I used to sit in his room and discuss the books we’ve just read. At that time, I had a membership of the library in British Council, which now has moved to the Kathmandu Valley Public Library in Bhrikutimandap. Every week, I used to bring three books to read, and one almost, always was a thriller. Even during my high school, I brought many thrillers and espionages home, those written by Ken Follet and Dick Franscis.

My father loved reading books. He had this love for words, that I simply never understood. Every morning, you would find his face deep in newspapers because he would be solving the cross word puzzles. And only after solving them, he used to move onto the news and op-eds. He would finish reading all the books I used to bring, before I could finish them first myself. And he loved to discuss about them with me. I still remember, how father would always comment on my love for romance novels. He would then go on to read them just to affirm/confirm his comment on those books. We’ve spent many days talking about books we’ve read, thrillers and others.

While reading the Alexandria Link, I kept on thinking how I would have loved to discuss about the whole historical and philosophical part of the book with him. As the book proceeds on giving us a little information on how Judaism, Islam and Christinaity came into existence, I wondered about Hinduism and Buddhism, the easter religions. I got pretty sure our discussion after this book revolving around how nobody has written anything as such on Hinduism and Buddhism. I would have gone on to ask father about the mysteries and histories of our religion and we could have spent days amusing each other with our theories.

The book made me miss my father. I never thought that I would miss the little details we shared. I never thought that I would miss the discussion we used to have on books and words and literature. But man I have been so wrong. And I am happy to be wrong. The book made me miss my father and hence this musing came to existence.

On a review note, the book was as entertaining as this genre is. I was determined to finish it in one go because it had me hooked. And I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series. This book is more fun because the protagonist is an ex agent. Till next time, happy reading!

One weekend hike.

We were unprepared. No, we were kind of prepared, we had a plan but as things happened, things didn’t go accordingly. When my best friend Maya and I decided to go for a short hike one weekend, we thought we had it all figured out. She would make me breakfast and we would head out from her house, park the scooter somewhere, buy snacks and water (because she didn’t have any bottles at home) and walk. And as planned we had an amazing breakfast, rode till Godawari buspark where I showed the path and went on. But the plan I think went off-road when we were searching for the base of the hiking trail so as to park the scooter, and where we hadn’t still realized we’d already passed a kilometer from the base. With no snack and only 300 ml of water we parked the scooter and started to walk.

To be honest, I always wonder why I agree to walk after walking for five minutes. I love walking. And I love wandering. But my body has low stamina and it always curses at me when I go for a walk, especially when going uphill. And I usually give up easily but I didn’t want to this time. I wanted to reach the top and see what the fuss of Phulchowki was all about. But more than that I didn’t want to give up because I had been haunted by the fact that I am always giving up – on people, projects, work. That I always ran away.

And so, along the way I kept calculating our water. I thought if we had one sip just to drench our tongue, we could survive. Onward the uphill climb, which we did slowly (by the way), I kept on remembering this part from the book ‘The Valkyrie’ by Paulo Coelho, where Coelho and his wife are saved by someone who found them severely dehydrated while walking on a desert. In the book, Coelho mentions that dehydration is one of the easiest ways to die, especially when you’re walking – you don’t realize you are getting dehydrated, so you feel exhausted pretty fast and you want to rest. Which basically prevents you from reaching your destination faster. Or makes you pass out on the way. In the meantime, you sweat a lot and you try to take out the layers of clothes which fasten the process. So, by the time you’re discovered, chances are – you might need IV like Coelho and his wife did.

The thing about dehydration, at least in my experience, is that you don’t know how much your body craves water till your tongue tastes a drop. So, when we both decided to take out first sip, after walking for one and half kilometers, we didn’t stop with one sip. “I don’t need to know how much dehydrated I am right now.” Maya said. I agreed, because although I already had two sips, my tongue was still craving more drops of water.

After our second stop to drink, I declared that we are to turn back the moment our bottle emptied. For me, it was the wisest move. Because continuing further would mean the walk back would be waterless. We ran out of water after walking 6 kilometers, with 5kms more to go. We turned around without any words feeling sad that we had only reached half the hill. But this was a risk we couldn’t take; we still had to walk 6kms down the hill without water.

Now looking back, I realize that I am always holding on to things – to people, projects and paths. And most of the times, this holding on, gets me stuck. And I feel scattered with these people and projects and paths. And that makes me more anxious and stressed. And it ends up making a vicious cycle of going from one person to another, one project to another, one path to another.

In just this one year, I had been engaged in many projects including my personal ones. But despite my utmost belief and love for those projects, as I prioritized on what was important to me, I had to let go of a few. The same went with the people I had in my life. I became very choosy about who I was spending my time and energy with. And that’s something I learnt from this trip as well. It made me realize that maybe sometimes the smartest move in life is to know when to let go – of people, of projects and hiking paths. Because by letting go, you not only create space for new possibilities, but also can give enough time to yourself.

What journaling really is.

Journaling is about discipline. You wake up every day and like you exercise, drink water and meditate; you journal. No matter where you are or what you are feeling, you just let it out. Sometimes you fill out pages with rants, other times you make a paragraph about feeling ukusmukus: a feeling that comes to haunt you every now and then like that one guy you met who just wants to meet all the time. Most of the times, it might be just a line that you write – a line that came to you while commuting, shitting, walking into random chowks and galli or while talking to someone.

Journaling is about experiments. Each page is somehow different than the other. Each words etched into the paper creates a different pattern. Each letter is curved differently, each thought processed and articulated in a separate way. Sometimes, instead of a word, an image takes place. The image could be pasted or sketched. Sometimes the background is changed to give it a different look. The look of the page depends on your mood, some are planned out, many are spontaneous.

Journaling is about experience. Whether you’re disciplining yourself to journal everyday or you’re experimenting with the layout and the content, journaling at the end is about experience. It is about understanding. It is about being okay with the mistake and learning from it. It is accepting your chaotic self while you try to balance it with some sort of order. It is finding one form that suits you and finding more similar forms.

Journaling is a journey. A journey of love, hard work and perseverance. A journey of experience and experiments. A journey that needs to be taken, a journey without any destination. Tell me about how this journey is treating you so far. Till then, happy journaling! 🙂

collecting; batuldai is an attempt to collect scattered pieces of my life, one musing at a time.

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