Little did I know what lay ahead…….
Thursday 6th june 2013 (Airport london)
First meeting with a fellow traveller. Random as ever. Interesting as ever. Something about these people that is so easy to connect with. An appreciation for and understanding of the importance of travel. The importance of seeing these places and meeting these people. Therese Murphy from carlow. Heading to Uganda for few weeks followed by trip to kenya. All on her own. And people say I’m brave but she makes me look like a pussycat! She makes me feel better when she tells me she has been to india and travelled on her own there for a while. No real problems. Get talking to another man, Harsham from bangalore but living in L.A.. Big into the cricket & soccer. Going home to Bangalore for a month to visit his family. We swap facebooks and part ways. Another short friendship that travelling always throws up. Most of these people will never be seen again but every meeting/person adds a bit to the story. As we part company, I think to myself that its my first conversation with an Indian on this trip & if they are all as friendly everything will be sound.
On the plane now waiting for take off from London. Next stop Delhi. €205 has been changed into 11,300 rupees. Wonder how far that will go? Still no accommodation booked in Delhi. Think I’ll just wing it when I get there. Am arriving at 10.40 am so surely manage something. Plane is weird. Looks like an Indian decorated sitting room!
Nearing end of flight now. Nice flight, good music on headsets provided makes the long flight a lot easier. Sitting beside Lucy on flight. Girl from England heading to Bangkok travelling alone. Quit her job and has spent last 8 weeks in America. Now 8 weeks in Asia and plans to go to work in Australia then. Very quiet but nice and pleasant. Easy company, which is nice on long flight!! I find the fact that she is going solo shiws a certain braveness behind that timid exterior. Shows a bit of character and I like that about her. She reminds me of 2 people I know (unfortunately can’t mention names!!) Talks, acts and looks like them. Maybe they are related but I wont ruin it by asking, I’ll just let myself believe that they are in some way related. We discuss our plans and she says that she wants to be more unorganised and unplanned like me but says she would worry about doing it that way and she could well be proved correct! She strikes a chord with me when she says I’m on a real ADVENTURE! That is exactly what it is, an adventure. Not knowing what to expect excites me. The more different and challenging the better. Whatever may happen, I must remember that it is part of my adventure of life. Try to embrace it and but don’t worry too much about things. Life will go on & situations will come and go. Next stop is delhi airport…… ready for the next step!!
As I sip a coffee in the airport, I try to plan my next move. I have seen outside and it looks swamped with people. I know I will need to be organised and prepared before stepping out into the madness. No accommodation booked. Wi-fi in airport won’t work. Think I’ve already come close to being ripped off by hotel provider area in airport. Asked for cheapest place and she came back with price of 1800 rupees (around $31). Not expensive but sounds like a rip off in India. I decide to pass (turned out to be the wrong option!!) & stop for a coffee as I plan my next move.
I remember the Indian travel book I “borrowed” from library back home (p.s. if anyone reading this works in the library, I will be in to pay all fines soon!) I begin to look up places to stay in delhi and it gives great rundown (what I didn’t realise at the time was this guidebook was about 15 years old and severely outdated to say the least!!) ( I must also admit that i later tried unsuccessfully to sell on that book to a book trader who refused to buy because it was so old! I also find it kind of amusing that I sunk to the low of trying to sell a library book, and even more shameful to think that I failed and had to abandon it in india further down the line!!!) Oblivious to this at that time, I Scribble down few addresses and my next big move is to find taxi. I know that if I book in airport it will be more expensive, but safer. If I book outside, it will be more of an adventure but also more dodgy! I decide to make my decision on way to exit. Hopefully, next time I write I will be lying in hotel/hostel after a shower and shave!!
Thursday 6th June 2013 ( on bus to airport for flights to new delhi, india)
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go!!
The day, the moment, the beginning of the journey has finally arrived. The beginning of a new chapter of my life. A blank canvas to be painted. A mixture of emotions fill me right now. Excitement are nervousness are in there but i have the happy life loving feeling. The kind of feeling you get on a Friday when the weekend is upon you. The past year has been my week and the next couple of months are my weekend!! I have thought and daydreamed about this moment all year. The word that comes to mind that best sums up my thoughts and feelings is “FREEDOM”. Freedom from routine, freedom from everydayness of life. Freedom to explore the world, meet people and enjoy the journey of discovery. Discovery of myself and the world I live in. It dawns on me this morning one of the reasons I want to travel alone. It’s a challenge. To be able to survive and get my own way around. Find my way in the world. Independence.
I wonder what lies ahead. India? I know not much. No accommodation booked & no plan. Am I carefree & adventurous or stupid & unprepared. Probably a bit of both. I wonder about the people I will meet. This excites me as I think of all the people I have met and friends I have made over the past few years. I wonder about travelling alone. I have been told that I have the personality for it & would mix with anyone. Of course, i grow a few inches in confidence every time I hear this. I do believe that I have the right attitude & open mindedness to make it work. My previous travels have opened my eyes and taught me some valuable lessons. I am sure this Summer will teach me a lot more. That’s what it is all about – experiences and learning.
I think back on some of the high points and low points from my travels last year. One sticks with me. The morning I left 250 euro in an ATM in Barcelona. Hungover and depressed I was that morning. Then, that night at beach party losing my i-phone. Cancelled insurance few months before. Typical. Funny though, i often think of that day as one of the best days of my life!! The craic at the beach party with Fabian (German), the Yanks & all the rest of the crew. A big group of mixed nationalities partying all night on the beach. Crazy shit. I look back on the 250 euro and the i-phone and laugh. Great story to tell I suppose and I’ll never walk away from an ATM again without taking my money!! While reflecting on this, I decide to make a pact with myself right here and now. Whatever happens, good or bad, I promise myself to fully experience what is happening. Be happy, be sad, be afraid, be pissed off, be frustrated, be amazed……but always remember that this is all part of the journey. In fact, it’s part of what makes the journey. I know the journey will not always be smooth but it will be my journey & I am here to enjoy it. Enjoy life. I feel alive today. Really ALIVE and it’s the best feeling in the world!!
On plane for London now………………………………
No turning back now. Strange feeling came over me getting food at the airport. It suddenly dawned on me that I will probably not see a familiar face for whatever time I will be away. 10 weeks without seeing anyone you know is a fair stretch. Tis a funny feeling of excitement and tinged slightly with sadness. One thing for sure, I’ll miss my family, all of them. Family is funny. We are all very close in our own little ways and I will miss each of them a lot. I will also miss football. A big part of me will feel that I’m letting the lads down when there is a game on but I know that I have to do this now. I want to see the world and there is no point looking back with regret in the future thinking about what I should have done.
Brief thought goes through my head…..” Jesus, what if something happens to me out there, nobody to help me out!” The thought is very brief and I try to counteract it by telling myself things will be cool. I am a great believer in faith. I feel that things happen for a reason. If we can always think that everything happens for a reason, then we can learn to better accept and embrace things that happen, be they good or bad. While at the airport, i come across a book called “Shantaram”. Jim Hamilton told me about it last night while we were having a few pints down there. I checked the price (€15.70). Pricey. I thought about all the books I already had. But then I thought to myself this must be meant to be!! Someone could be pointing me in this direction! And I’m not going to mess with faith so I bought the book and now I am glad I did. Would have regretted not doing so. Good man Jim!! Thanks for the free pint of Guinness and the good advice!!