This is going to be different.
I was checking Facebook the other day after coming back from my office. It was usual…a whole day editing atrociously written PR pieces and news stories…and an odd feature from a novice writer, with potential. Three cups of coffee, a monotonous bus journey back to my flat, in my semi-comfy couch, with a beer and fish fry…doing my fair share of social networking, which generally is checking cat photo updates, mostly…and some occasional interesting news and trivia…when I came across this post.
There’s an attraction in a nomadic lifestyle. Especially when you’re thirty, and have a job of an editor in a fortnightly broadsheet paper. Especially when you’re an Indian. For those who didn’t get the reference…here’s a pro-tip. When you were travelling, do you remember how many Indian backpackers you saw? That’s right…almost none. Indians don’t backpack that much. Travel means a month long family holiday, the bigger the group the better…and depending on the economy, inside India or some known locations like Thailand, Singapore or Srilanka. Indians love their comfort zone…they love to stay cocooned in their family life.
I was always a bit odd. In some ways I’m very Indian…nerdy, with two master degrees, sci-fi fan, average looking, prosaic and practical…completely justifying stereotypes. On the other hand…I am very different. My degrees are in Journalism, International Politics, International Relations and Economics…unlike the majority of my countrymen who study Science and Technology, Maths or Medicine. I don’t like Bollywood, for those who spoke to me they can vouch I have a neutral accent, with no thick T and D pronunciation…I prefer English premier league Football over Indian premier league Cricket. I don’t like eating curry much or smell like Chicken Tikka Masala.
And one small difference…I left my Dad’s house when I was eighteen. Studying, living, working in different cities than my hometown Calcutta. Even though I am the only child, with a stable decent relationship with my parents, who love me more than anything in this planet. Now, I am in Auckland, having a yuppie life.
It’s one life we get. Without going into the theoretical interpretations of the major religions in this world…one thing is certain…you have one life, and there’s a lot to see and learn.
Forget your own culture. There are other cultures, equally or even more fascinating. Don’t hold an opinion of your country’s civilisational exceptionalism. At the end of the day, you will just be a toad in your local pond.
There’s a different life…just waiting for you. Calling you to come out and explore. There’s a different fun in working as a car-park assistant for a week to earn some quick cash when you’re almost a broke, cleaning kitchens and toilets in a backpacker hostel, working for accommodation. Cooking in a multinational group, playing Fifa 13, eating cheap pizza, drinking and dozing off in the couch.
You’ll never know the meaning of life, unless you drink beer with a North English lad, see a French man cook, or debate politics or history with some sharp and fiery flame-haired German girl. That Polish girl who gave you her pack of cigarettes cause you didn’t have any left, the Japanese group which laughed at your terrible knowledge of Asian food or way of holding chopsticks, the Dutch dude who played Asturias in an acoustic guitar, the kind Danish girl who helped you when you were down and out of luck, even though you were a complete stranger to her, the East European dude who enlightened you about Vampires, or the Scottish girl who claims to have seen Nessie, truly believing that these mythical creatures exist. Brash but extremely helpful and friendliest Americans, the Canadian who can give you an inferiority complex by just being impeccably polite and Victorian, that stunning Swedish, Norwegian, or Finnish girl, who all sound similar when they talk to you, and who can out-drink you in any red-blooded manly down-payment competition in the small tavern next to your hostel, all the while hypnotising you, looking directly in your eyes. Maybe it is the alcohol in your bloodstream…but if there’s heaven, it is right there.
Don’t be afraid to lose. That’s one thing which holds us back, keeps us in a shell.
We fear…which is a completely understandable and valid human emotion. There are all sorts of fear. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of getting mugged or robbed. Fear of rejection. Fear of death.
But you know what? Regret is even more hurting. Much much more.
Don’t be afraid of pain. It is the best teacher you’ll ever have. It makes you selfless. It gives you humility and compassion. There will be inevitable setbacks, failed romances, terrible economic conditions and half starved days. There will be uncertainty. But surviving those days, those moments will give you the credibility, which probably the majority of humanity lacks. You will earn your stripes…your bragging rights. The moment you feel stiff after shifting firewood for a whole day working in a farm just at the outskirts of the city you’re in, knowing at the back of your mind that you have two Master degrees; or cut your hand, while opening a tin can with an old Swiss knife, in the middle of nowhere, you will know you are a more capable and worthy man than possibly ninety percent of the people surrounding you.
Don’t hold any grudge, the memories will be all that you have, will give you hope for the future. Try to keep in touch with everyone, it is quite easy these days to be honest…don’t blame anyone, don’t blame yourself either, we are bound by the forces of fate.
And finally, don’t be afraid to love unconditionally, without expecting anything back. That makes YOU better than others.
I’m thankful and ever grateful to everyone I met, they made me a better person. I look forward to the day, when I will have enough cash saved again, for the next adventure of my life. Move to Europe in a few years, meet all the awesome people who blessed my life in these fleeting moments, and made it an experience I am proud of. Apply for a Research/Journalism job. And be with a girl I liked.
A man can only hope. That’s what keeps us alive.