This tenant was supposed to move out last Monday. Having not heard from him by 3pm, I dropped by to ‘just see how he was going’. He was going alright. There was a fully loaded 2 ton truck sitting on the driveway. He asked if he could handover the keys the next day as he had a ‘few loads’ more to go. A text on Tuesday morning asked if we could shift it to Wednesday. On Thursday I drove by and the moving truck was getting loaded again. Finally 5pm on Friday, he was ready to handover the keys. And there again sat another truck-ful of stuff and boxes of electrical appliances and a couple glass vases on the front porch! I had to ask the guy. I mean he was 3 years younger than me (a copy of his ID was attached to the tenancy agreement, duh.) how come he had so much stuff?? “Muchhh….naaaa.” Apparently he has ordered another sofa set and TV stand for Christmas.
And that has me thinking about my current inventory of possessions. Talking about electrical appliances, the only two things to my own name that come to mind be my hair straightener and laptop. Now at nearly 32, I am not sure whether this is something one should actually be disclosing publicly! Of course, this is by choice and this takes me a couple of years back when I got rid of all my belongings and decided to travel. And I am not alone in this pursuit. There are millions of travelers roaming the globe with only a backpack (or rolling a duffle bag) on their shoulders. We’ve all thought about it. We’ve all dreamt about it. And some of us have packed our bags and ‘just went’. There are hundreds of blog posts and articles online on when and how to ‘just go’ including mine which is probably the most searched hit post on this blog <read here>. I’ve also read some nostalgic articles on the experience of coming back home which I can relate to.
But there are some things that don’t get written about. There are some things that I haven’t spoken about. I remember when I came back to Fiji from about 9 months of travel, I spent hours sitting on my bed hugging my backpack. No matter how brave and daring you were to pack everything and go, when you get back there’s always the possibility of it being your most regrettable decision.
Every returning traveler will tell you how disconnected they feel because everyone has moved on or how you can’t fit back in but after nearly 3 years of a wandering lifestyle, can you really slot back in?
Nobody Gives a Shit
Nobody gives a shit. They don’t. When I run into someone I know after coming back from a long trip, they automatically ask so how the trip was. As soon as you excitedly get into telling about the best bit, they politely nod and say seeyalater or ask an inane question like have I seen Roshni’s new crack boyfriend yet? So I slowly learnt that people only ask about your trip as a courtesy. No one really gives a shit that you were trekking the Himalayas while they were busy doing the monthly stocktake.
You eventually don’t speak about your travels at all because either you’re afraid you’ll bore someone or they’ll get pissed off because you’re talking about ‘that one time in band camp’ or that it might come across as if you’re showing off.
People Just Don’t Get It
People just don’t get it. There’s this relative. And every fucking time he comes over, he likes to point out the ‘thousands of dollars’ I’ve wasted on those ‘travals’ and how I could have had a better life. He likes to throw the privilege card at me. You live with Suruj and her husband and it’s their roof over your head and you don’t know the roti, kapada, makan issues.
You know, back up. On one hand, your society’s expectation is that single-desi girl must live at home till she get married. It’s a story for another day, dear reader remind me, the time I nearly moved into my own place in my Suruj’s town. Biggest hoopla. I didn’t. And I accepted the desi living norms in Fiji 10 years ago. Now you want to throw your ‘kounchi boli samaj’ argument away and tell me I am ‘privileged’? Go check your fucking hypocrisy.
Point is people just won’t get why you
travel sorry holiday according to this bitch.
Your Goals are Different
Your goals are different. When you live in a country with a colonial past, we make it our mission to instill in our children; the good education, the good job, the good house agenda. I grew up parroting that. I must get a degree, work verrrry hard and buy lots of things so I look successful (and spend the rest of my life paying back for them!)
When you live in different countries, mingle with people from other cultures, go to one extreme to another of the globe and then come home, your perspectives change.
Mine did. I don’t want the picket fence, 2 kids and a dog and a husband with a solid job. Nothing wrong with that goal if that’s what you want. But I don’t. My happiness just really isn’t inside that picket fence and I’ll say a million sorries if I have to. I know I was taught something else but I unlearned them, I guess.
Some Things would be so Insignificant
Some things would be so insignificant. Go around the globe 235 times and come back home and what still doesn’t change? Boys beer nights! There was a time when difference between a Land Cruiser and Santa Fe, I would have cared about. Traveling on the KRSTC buses in Kerala and trams in Budapest have made me realize it’s not about what you travel in, it’s about getting from point A to point B.
Travel makes you realize the insignificance of some things we place too much importance on.
Always Somewhere Else
Always somewhere else. Some mornings I’d be savoring Turkish borek and afternoons drinking vino on the cobbled streets of Vienna. The slight whiff of a smell or sound of a horn will transport you thousands of miles somewhere else on the planet.
Such is the intoxication of long-term travel. A friend recently told me that he couldn’t live out of a suitcase for more than a week. And here we are trying to repack as lightly as we can so we can live longer out of ours!
Relationships Get Harder
Relationship get harder. Working a relationship is hard enough as it is. But when your priorities change due to your wanderlust, it’s really difficult on the other person. I have to admit here that I’ve been complaining about all the setups Suruj has been sending me on. But it’s really not their fault. It’s me. Those guys come in with their priorities straight. I’m the one whose not there. And let’s face it, did our mothers really teach our sons that desi-girls-who-travel-make-good-wives?
Love and travel? Not easy. Unless you find love that’ll travel with you across the seven seas. You’ll always been torn between the wandering freedom and still fulfillment.
Travel Expands Your Heart
Travel expands your heart. And this is where I am now. Travel expands your heart. It fills it up with so much more than you ever knew could exist. It’s like an entire universe that just starts revolving inside you. It makes you want to do things. Make big, bold things possible. You’ll feel your heart pounding every second of the day and every cell in your body stirs you and stirs you and stirs you, till you get up and roar.
While leaving everything I had and knew, to travel long-term is one of the best things I’ve done in life, sometimes wish I hadn’t. I feel like I’ve opened a Pandora’s box where travel was just an excuse to get here. I’m at a stage in life where I’m doing things that I’ve never imagined doing. It’s scary, exciting, it’s exhilarating and there’s no going back even if I want to.
So if you’re contemplating quitting your job, selling your stuff and sailing away from the safe harbor, go for it! It’ll be one of the best things you’ll ever do. But just so you know that once you’ve sailed, you can never go back to where you came from. Of course, everything will be just as same as you left it. It is you who won’t be, my friend. You will have to start all over again.