How do you sum up a life on a page ?
Especially your own life, lived thus far, warts and all? For public consumption, no less.
I guess I could start at the beginning and work my way down the years, but that would probably be as boring to read as it would be to write. Not to mention reducing everything that actually makes life “Life” into a flat, two dimensional template.
So in keeping with the storytelling leitmotif of this blog, let me tell you my story. Abridged and formatted to fit this screen.
I’m Indian, and I currently live in Hong Kong.
I used to be a banker (gulp!). And then I was s stockbroker (gulp, gulp!)
And then, I quit all that to concentrate on writing.
Done. Now on to the good stuff.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a deep and abiding love for the written word. You literally will never see me without a book. Or chocolate, but thats a whole other discussion.
I love the transformative quality of books, how they take you outside of yourself to inhabit different worlds and different skins. Anything is possible within the pages of a book, and that kind of makes you believe that if you can just hold on to that hope, maybe anything can be possible in real life too.
Books were the ultimate escape mechanism for a child growing up in a bustling metropolis in a slowly developing country. Living in a house surrounded by relatives and the constant comings and goings that form part of a large extended family living together experience, often the only way to carve out some space for yourself was to immerse yourself into another time and space. And then, when you were rudely reminded that you were, indeed, not in Narnia or 20000 Leagues under the Sea, wishing that you could suddenly teleport yourself into these other worlds.
Of course you couldn’t visit Middle Earth in real life. Or climb the Magical Faraway Tree. Even as a child, I knew that.
But Egypt really did exist. And the Great Wall really did snake its way across China. And you could climb Everest, and paddle down the Amazon, and swim with seals. You could have hot, buttered scones with clotted cream, whatever that was, in England, just like the scores of children in the Enid Blyton books.
All you had to do, was go there.
And so, as soon as I was able to, I went.
And I keep going. To me, the great miracle of our time is that even though the world has become smaller, it’s still actually pretty big. Which means you’ll never really run out of places to see. And that’s a good thing, an amazing thing.
Because it means that you will never stop learning. Travel truly is the greatest learning experience there is.
Like all travellers, I have my pet peeves. I’m not a great backpacker, I’ve seen enough of the simple life growing up in India for it to hold any fascination for me. But thats just me. I also tend to plan and research the hell out of every trip. I understand the argument for spontaneity being its own reward, but if I’m getting one shot at visiting a place, I don’t want to have regrets about missing out on a great experience simply because I didn’t take the trouble to find out about it beforehand.
And the battle of finding vegetarian food when I travel has been tempered somewhat now, but there are still occasional skirmishes. I never carry any “provisions”, preferring to suss my way out wherever I am. The good news is, I’ve never starved, not really. As long as you are willing to go with the flow, and don’t expect s gourmet selection, you will not die for lack of food, I promise you.
Some people say travel can become an addiction. There’s worse that you could be addicted to. And people call it the travel bug, as if its an affliction.
Travel is the one thing we can count on that will never get stale, never let you down, never diminish you. It only makes you grow. And your travel experience will always be as individual and unique to you as your DNA.
So I say to you, if you are afflicted with this “bug”, don’t ever wish for a cure. If you are addicted, you’d better hold on and never let go.
Be like me. Try and nurse your addiction every chance you get.
And then try and infect as many people as you possibly can.