The Importance of Being Jungli


Aka: why you should get out of the cities as often as you can.

Back before civilization and cities squeezed people into a few square kanals for relative safety and abundance of resources, humans were nomadic. We wandered the jungles and deserts and plains of the world and remained connected to the planet at the most basic level. Our settlements were small, organic, quick to set up and quicker to take apart as we moved from place to place in search of fresh water or food or some other simple primitive resource.

Fast forward to right now, to the age of industrial cities. We live like mice inside veritable mazes of concrete and asphalt, with a few neatly aligned planted trees and shaped bushes and organized flowerbeds, lest we forget. Cities are essentially a series of boxes arranged and organized to make us feel safe. Boxes to live in, boxes to work in, invisible boxes marking your zone/district/muhalla, moving boxes to get us from one place to another, boxes within boxes mark our bedboxes, bathboxes, office cubicleboxes, etc. Boxes everywhere, smeared in white paint and equipped with their own little bright boxes which show us HumTV nonsense at the flick of a switch. The entire network of boxes is connected beneath our feet by gray asphalt roads, neatly marked and labeled. We throw in all manner of machinery, beating and humming and drilling and plowing and whirring gadgets running on (scheduled) electricity. We are constantly surrounded by invisible rays of various energies so our phones and internet can continue working. We move around in this network of boxes from birth, occasionally venturing to another series of boxes from which we quickly return because ‘badboo bauhot thi uss shehr main’, constantly submerged within a sea of background ‘noise’, whether discernibly audible or not.

We spend our lives in these boxes, congratulating ourselves on the order we have created around us; the dull matte colors and shiny cars and right angles and uniformity.

But I believe that spending your entire life in these boxes is stifling for your rooh, soul, core humanness, whatever. This belief is based on nothing more than the feeling of serenity and peace which washes over me whenever I make my way out to nature. It’s incomparable. The constant background noise from the cities does not exist in the forests or the hills. You can hear yourself think again. And you can feel the nature around you ‘think’ too.

And you don’t even have to leave the cities completely. In Islamabad where I live, the Margallas are always right there, quiet and inviting in the background as you go about your day. Then there is F-9 Park, which is gorgeous and thankfully not very popular so rather unspoiled. I was there today to clear my head, which basically meant sitting in the shade of a tree, looking out at the birds playing in the pond, and immersing myself fully in the sounds of nature. It works every time.

And last year I moved to Abbotabad. I still come to visit Islamabad often, but after a few days in the city I yearn to be back out there. In the silence and peace and tranquility and simple yet insane beauty of nature, all my ‘city’ issues simply fall away.  I start to live in the moment, I live simply, I start to catch glimpses of the basic truths of the world. I smile more often, sometimes laugh randomly. All the layers that have been applied to my life are peeled away one at a time until the very essence remains. I’ve traveled a bit and been to a few cities, but there are few pleasures greater than sitting in my hammock in Abbotabad and reading a good book as the sun sets.

This time to myself out in nature has changed my entire perspective on life. It has shifted my definitions of what is important and what isn’t. It has given me the chance to disconnect from the rabble of the citybox life and pay attention to my own voice. It has allowed me the extremely important opportunity for some introspection and reflection.

I cannot recommend this enough. Get out of the cities as often as you can and go savor the wild. No number of boxes that you surround yourself with will ever be enough. Because in your heart of hearts, you will always remain a jungli.






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