There was a How I Met Your Mother episode in season 4 called the St. Patrick’s Day or something like that. In this episode, Ted and Barney go to a St. Patrick’s Day party at a club and Ted does all things that normally he wouldn’t even dream of doing-like agreeing to sleep with a married woman, getting expensive champagne on someone else’s tab, deserting a woman out in the rain to score with ‘drunker hotter chicks’ inside the club, getting into a public brawl etc. When he wakes up he finds himself sore all over with a bruised eye, his cellphone missing, a disapproving Marshall pointing out how he’s turning exactly into Barney and that great as he may be, the group doesn’t really need another Barney. Then Ted goes back to the club to hunt for his cellphone. He finds the club in a severely dilapidated condition, owing to some really wild party with a grumpy old cleaner sweeping the floor. He can’t locate his cellphone, hurts his knee and starts hobbling in pain and is in a serious mess when it starts raining outside. He can’t do anything but wait. And we see Ted, standing alone, stuck between two shabby walls in a narrow, shoddy by-lane of the city, kind of giving up, tired and leaning against one of the walls, holding a yellow umbrella in his hand, staring somewhat fed-up, at the rain, waiting for it to stop.
That particularly scene got stuck in my mind, just like some annoying song that gets stuck in your mind and keeps on playing in a loop in your head. How many times has it happened that I have found myself in exactly similar situations? Waiting for the rain to stop, trapped in a shady, gloomy corner of the city, completely alone, feeling not sad, not lonely, not even dismal, just tired, plain tired. There is something about the rain in this city; it makes you feel heavy, somewhat weary; or maybe it’s just me. When it starts raining and I am alone and stuck somewhere, the most random, most trivial thoughts start flitting across my mind. Like how my mother and I had enjoyed the first monsoon showers, or how we used to make crackers before Diwali, or how I had held someone’s hands and walked in the rain, caring two hoots about catching a cold or ruining my hair. And now it’s all empty-the kind of emptiness which doesn’t make your insides ache; the kind that leaves you weary. You look back at your life. You don’t judge anything. You just look and think, “why is this happening to me? I could have been somewhere else now. Why me?”. It is not just the loneliness prevalent in your life and breeding like rats that make you question. It’s just the way things are. Like you’d ask, why is it me, of all people, who flunked this test? you flunked because you screwed up majorly. You’re stuck here because you could have been somewhere else but instead chose to be here. It’s just you, your karma, the course of your life that has brought you here.
Then we see Ted opening the umbrella and walking out, disoriented in the rain, lurching forward, trying to reach home. and the scene fades out. We do not know whether he makes it properly or gets into a bigger trouble.
And that’s the thing with the rain in the city. You see, when the rain comes and you get stuck, it is not always in your hands. But that’s when you start questioning yourself; that’s when you surmise that you did something which brought you here. Now you have two options-stay here and wait for the rain to stop. Or start walk right into it to make your way home. you don’t know what lies in store for you.
The theory of edge of chaos deals with flipping a coin. About the edge refers to a point when the coin is in the air. The particular point where all motion stops, the coin is pure potential and just about to choose the next path. Or a pile of sand with the edge of chaos being the point where the last grain is added and the pile either chooses to collapse or keep piling up. The edge of chaos can be a moment of complete mayhem, turbulence, chaos. But in a system, it is also the moment with the greatest potential. If a system were a human, it’d be the moment where life starts…moving from being to becoming .
Just like that, the future is so damn impossible to predict; everything is riding on the next step. I might trip and fall on the wet streets. I might bungle my way through the incessant traffic. I might lose my way, get drenched and all. But point is, I can move. I need not remain stuck in a dark dingy hole waiting for the rain to stop.
This is what Kolkata rain on wet cold mornings does to me. Makes me rant about physics. Makes me tired and disoriented. Makes me empty. And makes me feel a subtle touch of exhilaration. Of freedom-the freedom to leave that corner and start walking, with the future riding on each of my next steps.
I promised myself I’d stop including quotes in everything I write but I just couldn’t help but include this little thing I heard Ted saying to his future kids:
kids, it’s sometimes possible to think you’re doing just fine in life n then someone opens your eyes little bit n you realize…your whole world is off balance… out of whack…crooked….I don’t think I like me much then…but that’s okay…tomorrow had arrived…you see I didn’t know it yet, but my life was about to change…