So, after much delay, I’ve finally gotten around to putting up my first post, although today is May 15th, I actually wrote this on May 7th. The length of this post might be explained by the fact that I had about 12 hours to write it. Enjoy my maiden post, more updates to follow!
As of this moment, I am officially 16 hours into my journey to Chandigarh, India. Only about 14 more to go, 12 of which will be spent in an airport in Delhi. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I’m officially on Indian soil!
So far, other than being stuck in security and customs at the Ottawa airport for almost two hours (which nearly caused me to miss my flight) and realizing just how close Newark, New Jersey actually is to Manhattan (I saw the Empire State building for the first time from my window during landing!), the first steps of this experience have been pretty tame.
Unlike last year when I was en route to Cameroon, there has been no Icelandic volcano threatening my flight, and I haven’t even been asked to babysit any random kids at any airports. What’s more surprising is that I haven’t even been tricked by any airport officials into paying an unnecessary bribe. Infact, its been all quiet on the western front (or should I say eastern front since that is my current heading?). At this point, even I am unable to make any of the mundane happenings that have taken place sound adventurous or entertaining.
Don’t worry though, I’m sure that’ll change soon.
Now, quite a few of you have asked me if I was intending to keep a blog like last year, and obviously if you’re reading this now, you know the answer. Although last year I certainly took time for some serious moments and attempted to share them with you, as you may recall, the primary purpose of my blog last year was to entertain and to tell some amusing stories. I’m sure this one will turn out to be largely the same, but since I’ve had a lot of hours to myself during this trip, this first post will be pretty introspective.
Also, since I’m not one for breaking tradition, I will continue listing my blog playlist, so feel free to tune into Neighborhood #1|(Tunnels) by Arcade Fire as you continue to read.
Through my (admittedly limited ) life experiences, I have found that these little expeditions provide the best refence points when seeking to reflect and take a second look at things going on in my life. Experiences like this have a definitive beginning and end and they often represent a signigicant break from “life” and familiarity. In a way, they almost force me to take a step back (a BIG step that reaches halfway around the globe) and to try to look at things from the outside looking in.
Sitting here in a terminal at Delhi International airport (which is extremely nice by the way, quite new, and way less intimidating and chaotic than Douala), I have a better vantage point that allows me to look back to almost one year ago when I was sitting in the Ottawa airport. I’m able to compare how I feel now and felt then, both times on the brink of starting a new adventure. I’m also able to re-assess my motivations and desires for leaving home, and I’m also able to evaluate changes that have taken place in me and my life since then.
Unlike last time while sitting in the airport, I am not a ball of nerves. I also don’t have that little nagging voice in the back of my head asking me “what the hell are you doing!?” Instead I’ve been calm overall,with little doubt in my mind of my ability to handle what might come my way (lets hope I’m not being over confident on that one!).
Before heading to Cameroon, I was eager to learn what life was like in Africa, I wanted to try to pick up some more French, and I also just needed some fun and excitement. Last time, although I may not have touched on this much or talked about it to a lot of people, a large part of the reason why I went to Cameroon was because I wanted to prove to myself, and perhaps others, that I could do it. Taking off to visit exotic places may sound fun and all, but I’d be deceiving you if I made it sound like it was all easy. Being separated from everything and everyone you know can be extremely challenging and difficult. But I did it!
This time on the otherhand, if I were to have honestly described before April 1st why I needed to come to India, one of the reasons I would have given was, “Well, its India! Who wouldn’t want to!?” After talking to numerous people who have either travelled or lived in India, its hard to deny that there are a lot of interesting and exciting things that would attract me. While these would be the obvious “pull factors” there have also been some not-so-obvious “push factors” which changed the idea of going to India from a passing fancy to something that I needed to make a reality. Now, I’ll try to explain these “push factors” without being melo-dramatic.
I can’t place an exact start date on this, but over the last little while I have been feeling a little bit lost inside of my own head. By no means does this make me exceptional from any other 20 something year old. I mean, how many of you out there may be doubting your direction in life? Are you studying or doing something you really love, or that you hoped you would be doing four years ago? Has your understanding or perception of people and things around you changed over the years, some for the better, others for the worse? Have relationships with certain people not gone the way you always anticipated?
I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who can answer yes to one or more of these questions (thanks especially to some extremely significant chats over coffee, shisha, or other things with my close friends over the last few months, you know who you are!). Infact, I think these are all normal things to contemplate at one point or another. Perhaps this is part of that whole growing up thing we all hear so much about. Again, this is no different from what many of my own friends are experiencing, and I’m not in a bad place by any means. Nevertheless, every person has a way of charting their course through these waters. My preferred choice happens to be fleeing the country for months at a time to change things up a bit.
If you asked me why India after April 1st, my answer would be largely the same. However, there has been an additional sense of urgency that has been on my mind since then, probably because the last month of my life feels like it has been kicked in the crotch, jammed into a dryer, put on tumble dry, knocked around, and then stuck indefinitely in limbo. Most of you reading this will know exactly why April 1st stands out, as many of you have been equally, if not more, affected by the unexpected death of one of my best friends.
Before we go on, I don’t mean to be morbid or ironic, but my song choice has now changed to The Funeral by Band of Horses, a song that Chad introduced me to about 2 years ago by blasting it as loud as possible (coming close to rupturing my ear drums) while banging his fingers endlessly on his car steering wheel. Its been a song that I’ve associated with him long before he passed away, and its a song that I’ve listened to countless times over the last month.
So. What changed after April 1st?
Something a lot of you may not know is that I seriously considered cancelling this trip soon after Chad died. Having Chad gone has increased my desire to be with and spend more time with my close friends and family like a thousand-fold. I want to make sure I don’t start taking that time for granted, something thats so easy to do. However, after thinking about it a lot, I decided to stick with the plan. Thats my way of charting my course, and I think the next four months will go a long way in helping me deal with the loss of Chad and the other questions I have in my life right now. Hanging in limbo over the last few weeks has been one part of the process, but I think I’m in need of a little jump start in order to move onto the next step and I can’t think of a cooler place to find said jump start.
Above all else though, I now view the next four months as an opportunity to demonstrate to myself that it is possible to carry a great friend’s memory with me no matter where I am or what I am doing in life. This is important to me because those rare days or hours that have gone by where life has seemed too normal or I haven’t thought about my friend have freaked me out a bit. While I’m not trying to set unrealistic expectations for myself (you can’t think of someone you miss every minute of everyday) I have this fear in the back fo my haed that if I start letting some thoughts and memories slip away now they won’t mean as much to me down the road. And I really don’t want that to happen. For this reason, I have started to consider my time in India as a little test. If I still have those strong memories (both good and bad) of Chad come to my mind over the next months, even when there may be nothing to remind me of him here, I think it will help me gain confidence in the belief that I won’t ever forget him. For me personally, that will go a really long way to putting my mind to rest.
While this may only scratch the surface of the year in retrospect, it is likely that I have already fully saturated what will be the first blog post from my time in India. Hopefully this has provided you all with a better context going into this adventure. As I said, these experiences are a great reference point, and this blog will be one way of documenting and recording them. As much as I will write to entertain and amuse, this will also be my attempt to feel a little more connected to those people that I didn’t want to leave this summer. I hope I am able to keep you all entertained while giving some greater insight into my life here. Afterall, who knows what the next four months will bring?
So buckle up and enjoy the ride!