Why, and how, and when?
Did you become my brethren?
Now I cannot leave.
Why do I live in the Adirondacks?
This is an important question for me. And I am writing down the answer here primarily for myself.
I live in the Adirondacks because I can. Not everybody can.
Making a living here needs a certain amount of grit, and a great deal of privilege. Many, if not all, focus only on the former, while downplaying the latter.
Weather is harsh for most of the year, employment opportunities are scarce and niche, and there is not much in the way of recreation unless you love being outdoors.
As for privilege, both racial and generational, plays a huge role. While this essay is not the place to expand on the topic, one easy marker of that privilege is the denial by the very ones who benefit from it.
I have found that most people want to live in their comfort zones forever. The best they do is make their comfort zone bigger, maybe prevent it from becoming a bubble, but very few actually want to break free. That is why most Indians (I am speaking only about my nationality by birth) find their own communities, in metropolises and/or university-centric towns. With the familiar comfort of good food and communication in mother tongue, comes the gossip, racial bias and moral superiority, and traditional measures of financial success.
I think that Indian food is the best in the world. I am proud that Bangla is my native language. I enjoy the occasional gossip. Dare I say that I do feel foolishly morally superior about certain positions in my life. And yes, I also have some intrinsic racial bias. I constantly work on the last two aspects to better myself. Although, in exchange, I must say that Indian food is the absolute best. No arguments there!
I am privileged to have been born an upper-caste in India. And even though life was not without financial struggles, I received a good education that catapulted a journey of nine thousand miles.
But that is not all.
I live in the Adirondacks because I read. I live here because I read Chander Pahar*. And then all that Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay* wrote. He could see farther than all: even without travelling to foreign lands, during an era before the internet. But I am a mere mortal and I had to go witness a glimpse of the wild for myself.
I live in the Adirondacks because I had to see a place where the mist plays truant with the landscape.
And soon seeing was not enough. I had to know how the light touches the mountain.
I had to live in the mountains. I had to touch the light.
I live in the Adirondacks because a foggy morning and a dead pine is more important to me than a festive gathering and lifeless conversations.
I live in the Adirondacks because I love the mud and bog. I live here because I did not play in the dirt enough as a child.
I live in the Adirondacks because I seriously studied Chemistry for as long as I could. I knew Antoine Lavoisier decades before Adirondack Murray. I live here because I can barter reaction mechanisms for paddles under the full moon.
I live in the Adirondacks because I was given a film camera in my high school. I could not afford to spend on such ‘frivolous pursuits’ then. I can afford it now. But it is not necessary anymore.
I live in the Adirondacks because my teacher asked me to write. And I did not for many years. But it is necessary for me now that I write.
I live in the Adirondacks because I read the White Fang. And I wanted to experience a place through a dear animal. I live here because I did not grow up with a pet.
I live in the Adirondacks because how else would I have known that a beaver can chase you while you are studying a lilypad.
I still do not know why the chicken crossed the road. But now I know why the salamander crossed the road.
I live in the Adirondacks because here I have come closer to myself than ever before.
I live in the Adirondacks because all returns to dust.
I live in the Adirondacks because I want to live.
(on Earth Day of 2022, an inquiry into my shelter in one corner of the earth)