Thursday, October 25, 2018

I am not a traveller

Note: It's just a rant post.

I don’t call myself a traveller. I like to travel. And I travel a bit more than a normal person. But a lot less than a full time traveller. I am quite happy, content and slightly proud of the places I have been to. Over the years, I have come to realise one thing.

I don't remember destinations on the basis of popular places there. For eg, I don't remember a hillstation for that popular waterfall, or a city for some monument. To me, most of the memories are associated with either food or some random places I happened to discover.

Or even a random memory I associate myself with, or some mindless bargaining to buy something really small. When I see people going to places I have already visited, I so badly want to recommend them places to eat at, dishes to try in that particular restaurant/thela.

Or buy that small piece of souvenir item outside a touristy destination, or go for a drive around that place and try to find some breathtaking landscapes. My association of any place is connected with these small small memories and experiences. 

I don't remember the popular monastery of Coorg, but I do remember making up stories about Tipu Sultan's loo since we were bored of hearing his stories everywhere we went. I don't remember Burj Khalifa or Dubai mall or aquarium. but I do remember staring at that fresh bun at Papparoti they made right in front of me and served me in the same tray. Or that thai meal at Benjarong. I don't remember many attractions of China or Hong Kong. But I remember going to a public swimming pool and sitting at the stand, staring at all those swimmers - oldies and kids - for hours. And I remember not being the only one to do so. That's the pastime of many people there. They come. Sit in the stand. Watch. Leave.

I don't remember how I felt when I saw the Eiffel tower at night for the first time, but I remember bargaining for those Eiffel tower keychains and magnets. I remember meeting an Indian guy selling them. 15 keychains for 2 Euros was a kickass deal. 

I don't remember what I did in Shimla. But I remember where I had chhole kulcha. Or that awesome meal in a very cool cafe in Kaza. Or wai wai in Sikkim while missing Maggi. Or using landline in Nubra Valley where there is no other network working. Yes, I do remember watching Northern lights. But what's more clearly etched in my mind is, in the middle of Iceland - the most unlikely place to have someone speak in village gujarati. Or meeting an Icelandic lady on the flight that was delayed and have us dropped just in time for our lights chasing tour. 

No, I am not a traveller. I am not even an explorer. I am just a curious soul that happens to find right things at the right time. Well, not everything is right, or pleasant. But they are still there. Reminding me of little moments of happiness every time I hear the name of that place. 

I want to go back to all those places. But only if I could relive all those memories all over again..

Monday, September 10, 2018

New beginnings

Life has been good to me overall. Especially from this side of the fence. If you asked me about how my life was 15 years ago, I would have cribbed about a lot of things. Be it dating or falling in love with wrong guys, or making wrong choices. Rather, choices that seemed wrong then are right now. 

I have had a not so rosy life. From starting to earn and finance my studies after 12thexams, to choosing wrong partners all my life – I struggled. I fell down. Failed miserably. And got up again. Broken, but not undefeated. I never really gave up on life. People came into my life. Walked all over me. Tried to break my spirit. But my spirit is a tough bitch. Tougher than I expected it to be. It got up every time and joined the fight.

After all this, I realized that there is no point in sulking about anything. You cannot let people defeat you every time. You cannot let them break you. You cannot let them win. And for that you don’t have to defeat them either. You just have to win your own battle. You have to stand up for yourself. Respect your own self. And that will make all the difference.

It all started very late for me. I took hasty decisions at the time when people are busy studying or shaping up their careers. I was living in a fantasy world then. And I continued doing so for years. By the time I decided to make amends, my friends were already making a six-figure salary. I felt like a loser back then. Did I regret my past? No I didn’t. And that was my first victory. I did not let that past affect me. 

I started everything from the scratch. I started building my life from the beginning. Brick by brick. Pillar by pillar. Wall by wall. I would see my friends travel to Europe and think if I would ever visit those countries. I started fulfilling my dream of travelling by going for short trips. Within one state. With a budget under 10k – something that I could afford. At times, I would think about leaving my business and start working somewhere. That comfort of fixed salary was too tempting. Those Eiffel Tower pictures would make me crave for that life. 

But I didn’t give in to the temptation. I did not give up. Yet again. The inner bitch won yet again. From under 10k budget to longer and better trips started taking place. Slowly it grew from India to other countries. I started ticking off things from my bucketlist one by one. I was damn nervous when I applied for Schengen Visa. I never believed or expected that I would ever get a visa to any country. But here it was. A small thing for many, a huge deal for me. For what I was and what I had become. I had travelled far. And it was no small feat. When I witnessed northern lights on my birthday last year, I realized how good life has been to me. 

From there, to today when I have moved to my own apartment. No, I didn’t buy it. You cannot afford a house in Bombay anymore unless you take a hugeass loan and are ready to stay indebted for most of your life. I cannot live under the burden of loans. But having my own space means a lot to me. I fought against all odds and reached here. Again something I never thought I could achieve. People and experiences killed my belief in myself. I was foolish enough to let that happen. But I was also wise enough to come out of it and changed it.

Only you can decide your life and what you want to do with it. Listen to others. But don’t be blinded. Don’t ever lose faith in yourself. You are the good and the bad in your own life. The day you give this power to someone else, you start losing your battles. But remember, even that’s not the end of your life. Every point can be a new beginning if you want it to be. Every point can be the end of everything if you let that happen.

I am writing after almost a year. It feels good to be able to write what is going on in my head. I feel powerful again. And I am still melodramatic about these things. Some things don’t change. Thank god!