Fragrances of India. My latest trip to Mumbai dates back to 1994. I was thirty years old. It was a very long time ago. My first novel, Au Rythme des Déluges, published in 2000, was partly taking place in Mumbai and the main character was Pedro, a young Portugese native to Goa. I regret that, 20 years later, that novel has not been translated into English nor Hindi yet. Of my two trips to India, of Mumbai, Calcutta, Panjim, Mysore, Ooty, Cochin,… I have happiest memories, memories in the form of dreams. I hear people say that India has changed a lot since 1994. All of us have changed a lot since 1994. Some people have changed so much that they have been born or have died since then. I cannot turn back time, I do not want to turn back time. Those are all the thoughts I went to sleep with last night, after eating a wonderful dal tadka vegan and after closing the book « On Education » by Krishnamurti. I think I even dropped off with that sentence : there is no vital difference between the old and the young. Both of them are slaves to their desires and to their pleasures. Maturity is not a matter of age, it comes with understanding.
In my dream I am at Dharavi (Mumbai), Asia’s largest slum built on an ancient swamp. I feel good there, welcome by happy, truly happy people. A young man comes closer to me and says : hello sir, it’s me, I am the man who smiles and tries to smile a lot without reason. My name is Nitin Baranwal. I am a designer, vegan and above all human. I can feel that your soul has remained very young, that’s so rare. I can be a source of inspiration or i can truly be inspired by someone. Be aware that here you are not in the real world, you are in a dreamworld : where human beings live in a modern way without doing nature nor animals any harm, where Man lives in peace and joy, loving who they want to, no matter the genre, where everyone is equal, here there is no money, no rich nor poor, only barter trade, here everyone produces the minimum waste, fruit and vegetables are cheaper than fast-food, education is free, transport is ecological, here everyone possesses the truth, here we live true adventures not digital ones. And he ends up with saying solemnly : I am who I want to be, I choose to be what I want to be, what I think, what I earn, what I eat, everything is ME. But who are YOU ?
I could feel in that young man a pretenseless and unemphatical devotion to Humankind, a flawlessly gentle one, his activism for all those multiple causes suddenly made me feel melancholy. When I was his age, I thought the same. When did I lose my convictions ? Are they lost or just buried in order not to appear in a world where the words « peace » or « love » alone are mocked cynically ? My name is Patrick Lowie and I would like to take you to Mapuetos, I say to him. He looks at me, hardly amazed, and responds swiftly : I know where Mapuetos is ! Have YOU dreamt of that place which does not exist too ? I can tell you that I know it, I was born there. The way he speaks overwhelms me. I tell him : so I need not add anything further ? We have an about-thirty-year age gap, but you know as much as I do about that magical place, about life, about Mount Imyriacht volcano, you know everything ? In a very mature tone of voice and with a huge smile, he says : maybe even a little bit more.
Who's Nitin Baranwal ?
Nitin Baranwal was born in Mumbai (India) in 1996, he is an interior designer, vegan, LGBTQ, ecologist activist and adheres to a policy of "zero waste".
See online : Instagram
Photo credit : Viren
Traduction : Patricia Massimo Massinon