I was messaging a friend on g-chat just yesterday, bemoaning the fact that I had lost track of my blog somewhere in the hustle and bustle of India and my persistent laziness and lack of motivation. He simply said, “Blogs are so passé.” True, maybe. I, like many other people, who had either uprooted their lives to other corners of the world or who simply wished to start documenting the quotidian and extracting wisdom from the day-to-day, started a blog for what reason I’m not sure. I think I did it as a personal exercise – to devote myself to writing by committing publicly so that my friends could hold me responsible.
My friends certainly did their job. But I failed at mine.
Mine descended into the graveyard of blogs within a year of its inception. It has been almost almost one year since my last post, and like many others who have probably lost a beloved one to the blog underworld, I’m kicking myself. I have gone on many adventures, met a good number of people who have become very near and dear to me, and made some exciting, difficult, and life-changing decisions. And none of it was documented in a satisfactory way. How will my already sub par memory fare in my later years?
In June, I left my job in India and spent two months traveling, peeking around distant corners, looking into the nooks and crannies and lifting up the dusty rugs of the country – proverbially speaking. It was no year-long sabbatical or epic 4-year jaunt around the world. It was a mere 60 days and I say “mere” because after being done, 60 days seems like hardly any time at all. I packed a tiny little backpack full of few kurtas and long skirts, a toothbrush, my trusty Himalaya Neem facewash (which can save my skin from all sorts of calamities), my laptop, and a kindle and set off, heading south.
On the tip of the Indian peninsula (almost), I explored the beautiful town of Rameswaram, woke everyday with absolutely no agenda whatsoever, swam its untouched, sparkling waters, bought glistening, fresh fish off a fisherman while kayaking out on the ocean, spent countless hours reading Tolstoy on deserted beaches (I’m still not finished with that damned Anna Karenina), enjoying the delicious, sweet taste of an unplanned, unrushed life.
I spent one week, bed-ridden with a 104 degree fever in the sleepy surf town of Mahabalipuram. Too sick to move or even eat, I stayed in bed and watched re-runs of the office from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, at which point, the owner of the cafe across the street would deliver steaming honey-lemon-ginger tee and a nutella crepe. In the afternoon, I would limp to the nearby make-shift clinic (that called itself a hospital) and wait amongst 20 other sick people and their children and families to be seen by a questionable doctor that prescribed antibiotics for almost everything, no matter the ailment. On good days, when I had a bit of energy, I would walk past the beautiful historical temples and stone carvings or walk a deserted stretch of sand while the waves crashed in.
In the aftermath of my brief run-in with non-typhoid typhoid fever, I moved onto Pondicherry in hopes of finding good wine and cheese, two things I can thank the French for leaving in India. I found neither actually – but had a few incredible croissants to boot, so no complaints. Pondi has a vibe of its own – its a beautiful city, adorned with gorgeously upkept colonial buildings in all sorts of glorious shades. She looks kinda serious from the outside, but if you pull back the curtain, the town is overflowing with visual art, design, architecture, music, and lots of Indian men with large beards speaking French. If only the humidity would give it a rest, I could wander the streets of the old city for ages and never grow tired.
So many beautiful adventures crammed into the past 2 months, even the past 2 years that now I am faced with a dilemma: how will anything I experience from now on even begin to compare? I might be a little too dramatic, but life is devoid of color here in the US, a little too-sepia toned for my liking. My senses feel dulled. And that is one of the reasons for this long written meditation – that I have left India is a truth and fact that I can’t change in the short-term. But that life here is bland and somehow less thrilling? Is this just an delusion?
If there is one thing that India has taught me, it was to find joy and pursue curiosity in the everyday, the mundane, the things I would have otherwise overlooked. From my furious photo-documenting of buying vegetables everyday, to wondering about the people that passed me in the street – India made my insides whirr. It’s been a year since my last post, and I am officially now moved out of India, and somewhere in the middle of sorting out what’s next in the US. A large part of this search and the stress associated with it is finding happiness, finding the perfect blah-blah-blah (job, apartment, city, etc). But I have always been one to try to define myself outside of or beyond my my 9-5. In India, I was able to do that – my daily run-ins with all its frustrations and joy made me so happy during the last two years.
I was/am paralyzed by a fear that I will suddenly become a boring person since I have now left that Terra Exotica. Can I lose myself at home just as easily as I lose myself when traveling? Can I reconstruct that “Busy World of Richard Scarry“-like wonder and curiosity? I hated the Alchemist when I read it in 9th grade and though I don’t necessarily feel that I am supposed to be “home” now rather than anywhere else, I am fascinated by the concept of traveling to find the place you’ve always known.
As I reread what I have just written, I have no idea what I’m trying to say but in my head it makes sense. The end.