So why can’t I just get a flight and leave this god forsaken country? Travel insurance, vaccinations, visas – isn’t this supposed to be about spontaneity and wild adventure? A month after these thoughts and I’m resentfully organised and prepared, like a boy on the morning of his first day at school, armed with Mum’s liver sausage sandwiches and a Wagon Wheel.
I’m immune to typhoid, hepatitis A and tetanus, I’m legally allowed to enter India with my Visa. But most importantly, I’m insured in case I lose my iPhone… this is nowhere near as romantic as Into The Wild. But I did skip the rabies jab, so who knows; maybe I’ll get attacked by a rabid baboon to add some colour to this story.
The usual concoction of emotions pixelate my thoughts, as is the case before anything significant; nerves, excitement and fear. Regardless of me not being entirely sure why I’m going to India, I know it’s an essential step. The usual self-doubt and cynicism that lives at home with me has given way to a new feeling, one of being at odds with the world. Maybe I can forget about the ways in which someone’s self-worth is measured by their achievements here in London’s career bubble, and perhaps discover a culture where the simple life is celebrated.
That said, I’m not going into this with my eyes closed. I think the worst thing any traveler can do is impose their idealism on their experiences. The past tells me that chasing ideas sets you up for a fall, and everyone else tells me India is hell on earth. Heaven is reserved for those who look past the surface.
It’s easy to think yourself out of doing things as you begin to analyse what might happen, especially when the worst case scenario is far more likely than usual. Being someone who gets caught up in every little nuance of a situation – I’m surprised I’m taking the plunge. What if I lose something important? What if I get lost in translation? What if I can’t find somewhere to stay? The dialogue in your head is a dangerous thing, and I’ve been doing my best to tune it out.
Apparently I’ve done a good job, because next Tuesday, October the 1st, I’ll be taking my first breath of the infamous New Delhi air as I step off the plane. I’ve been told a multi-layered fragrance awaits me, made up of the sewage that spews across the pavements, the endless heaps of waste scattered on every corner and the smog billowing from the exhausts of frantic vehicles as they wind their way through the chaotic streets. Remind me why I’m going again?
No seriously, because I don’t have the foggiest. After meeting some family for the first time in what seemed like a couple of lifetimes the other day, I was asked questions which I have now unintentionally rehearsed the answers to after being asked so many times. But one question reverberates – why India? It might be that this question strikes a chord with me because it gives rise to my own doubts about the trip, but it’s a question that shouldn’t need answering.
Maybe I want to go to the Himalayas and stare at the mountains whilst smoking local charas. Maybe I want to do what every other spiritual soul seeker in India does and join a meditation/yoga retreat in the hopes that I can stare my anxiety in the face and laugh. Maybe I want to live the bohemian dream in Goa and party like it’s the sixties. Or maybe I’m just running away from the inevitably mundane reality which looms in the future in the hopes that a random act of fate will push me towards a more fulfilling life.
But shallow reasons aside, I think I just want to live a simply in an inspiring place and take life as it comes. London is a city that lives in the future, and there is nothing inspiring about the colour grey. India strikes me as a place where humanity and nature’s extremes live side by side – an inspiration for anyone who wants to learn, create and share experiences. Why do they want to know anyway?
Why? It’s a question that demands a logical reason in our rational society – the society who dismisses anything it can’t explain. Everything has a rational explanation, and if it doesn’t, it isn’t worth acknowledging. How others think we should live our lives is dictated to us subliminally at every corner. The media we consume, the people we talk to and the government that controls us. It’s all there to promote the life those above us have invented for us based on their own ideals. What is weird and what is normal is made to feel like an objective truth, and it’s a truth that’s got everyone bending over backwards for it.
So many people surrender to the 9-5 grind in the hopes of living up to this truth. The house they work too much to live in, the car that only gets used to drive the kids to the school that will try its best to seal the exact same fate for them. It all seems so futile. Maybe that’s exactly why I’m leaving – I’m tired of logic and reason shitting all over my dreams. I’m just another disillusioned twenty-something with his head in the clouds, right?
Any journey is about absorbing, learning, experiencing, and growing. Be it walking to the corner shop, going to work or going to India. Everything is an adventure that is there to be learnt from. But the further out of your comfort zone that journey is, the more room there is for the improvement of your own life and those around you.
Maybe I’ll return and have to resign to the fate I’m so desperately trying to avoid. But maybe by finding myself alone in a strange place, I’ll realise something only possible in this situation – that the most fulfilling things about life were there to be enjoyed all along.