Excerpt from Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer:
“Andy Horowitz, one of Mccandless’s friends on the Wooden High cross-country team, had mused that Chris
“Was born into the wrong century. He was looking for more adventure and freedom than today’s society gives people.”
In coming to Alaska, McCandless yearned to wander uncharted country, to find a blank spot on the map. In 1992, however , there were no more blank spots on the map not in Alaska, not anywhere.
But Chris, with his idiosyncratic logic, came up with an elegant solution to this dilemma. He simply got rid of the map.
In his own mind, if nowhere else, the terra would thereby remain incognita.”
If Chris was born in the wrong century, I am sure as hell living in the wrong millennium. Being an army brat, the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place is five years split between two of my father’s tenures. This place is Shankar Vihar; a dilapidated officer’s colony situated in the outbacks of Delhi Cantt.
I remember having stumbled upon what is called a Khai in Hindi. (Roughly translates to a deep natural ditch). For the lack of a better word, I’ll call it the gorge. I stumbled upon this gorge with two friends of mine. It was right next to a park on the far side of the cantt boundary. The domestic runway was adjacent to the other side of this particular portion of cantt and so every five minutes an aeroplane would fly past with its landing gear dangling rather ominously right on top of us. Close on its heels, its shadow would run over all the vegetation covering this gorge like a monstrous phantom. It wasn’t very deep or large by regular khai standards but when we saw it, we were awe-struck. This was probably because none of us expected to find a respectably sized gorge filled with trees so close to civilisation. It could hold its own next to any similar feature near the Ridge. Barely three kilometres away from this unlikely place was the National Highway eight and beyond that Mahipalpur, a notoriously crammed locality. Yet, if you were to ignore the planes going by, the deafening roar that accompanied them, the fat denizens of Vasant Vihar trying to shed a few kilos jogging, the huffing and puffing that accompanied their every stride and the guffaws from a rather overenthusiastic laughter club, if you could ignore all that, you just might be able to imagine yourself to be this intrepid explorer out to discover uncharted lands who has hit jackpot with this gorge.
At the Khai with Aman Saxena
The funny thing is, all three of us managed to achieve this enlightened state of self-delusion quite effortlessly. We were, in effect, three senior year students playing make believe explorers. All we lacked were paper hats with the words ‘captain’ scrawled on them. We decided we didn’t want to know what this place was called or where it lay on a map.We just didn’t want to know. For in that glorious moment when we found the gorge, it was our discovery. No, It didn’t matter that a million joggers ran past it every morning. It just didn’t belong on a map. Does Narnia figure on a map of the world? Does Middle Earth? Does Wonderland grace any chart of the continents? Does the land of Oz? No sir! What’s more, this wasn’t merely a rabbit hole that we found and fell into. Au contraire, this was a rabbit hole that we dug for ourselves. A rabbit hole where none had existed before.
Paraphrasing Tolkien: All those who wander wish to be lost. With Divij Sood