Sunday, February 17, 2008

Travel Travel Travel

Barcelona, Chennai, Ahmadabad, Seattle, San Jose, Atlanta, Seol.. all just mean places on the map to anyone else. But to me, these are places I'm going to be in the next 4 weeks. Sounds cool eh? :-).
When I was doing my undergrad, I didn't feel any big need to travel. I was very happy within my small microcosmic world. The first flight I took, was to the US. It was on July 26th 12.55am, the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. It scared the crap out of me. I had never felt more alone. I very very vividly remember even today how I peered out of the window across two other people from my aisle seat, when the flight was banking to land in Germany. The green lush trees and beautiful water ways. My eyes were starry eyed when I landed at the Frankfurt airport. I had never seen anything so big. It scared the crap out of me. When Ramanan and Vijaysarathy picked me up from the Raleigh-Durham airport and drove me back to my temporary stay accomodation, I was digesting how beautifully one road looped and flowed into the next seamlessly. I was in wonder of how spaciously well planned the entire road system was. Over the next few days at Raleigh, the word distance took a new meaning in my mind, when I walked up and down the whole of NCSU in search of an on-campus job. I needed a map to go around the whole place! I learnt what walking an entire mile in an alien land felt like, and I then learnt what it felt like to walk 4-5 times that distance as I kept hunting! The meaning of the word 'alone' changed once again. Three weeks later one of my cousins and his wife drove down from Washington DC 4.5 hours to help me and my room-mates set-up at my new place. I reflect now, and I understand the definition of going-out-of-the-way-to-help-someone else.
The first winter break, (Dec 22nd, 2001) another cousin and his wife bought me a ticket to Detroit. I landed at the Washington Dulles airport in transition, and then headed to the DTW airport from there. After picking up my baggage, I stepped out of the airport into the doors of my Anna's car. The meaning of the words familiarity, family, reunited, relief all took a new meaning. That winter, shuttling between 4 cousins' place in Detroit, and meeting one of my closest friends from college at his place at Ann Arbor, I learnt what the feeling of having support felt like.
Spring break, 2002, I headed to San Jose and looked around starry eyed when another cousin took me around San Fransisco. The Bay-bridge, the Golden-gate bridge, all engineering marvels. It is somewhere at this time, I think the seed of wanting to visit new places was planted in me.
From that time, every break I got, I travelled. I remember, I even kept track of which all airport I transitioned. I walked up and down each airport in every spare minute I got between flights. Moving to Colorado, having a job, being single and having my own car gave me new found freedom. Finding people who also liked to travel helped. Almost 2 weekends in every month, I travelled.. First few months, I took a flight out to different cities to visit friends on every long weekend. Then, it tended more towards exploring the beauty of Colorado and its neighbouring states. Unparalleled! Natural beauty redefined.
Once I had taken my GMAT and scored decently, I knew my days in the US were numbered. I travelled even more. Visiting even farther off places. All the while, when I worked as an engineer, and I travelled, I looked at the business travellers with a sense of curiousity. How would it feel to be a globe-trotter, to see new places on the job. To interact with people of different nationalities. To understand different cultures. When I left the US, to move back ot India, I wanted to have my base as India and then move around to visit other places. Inspiration redifined. Ambition redifined.
Today, I have done exactly that. But, I'm finding out that I don't really enjoy travel that much. The thought of leaving everything i have at home, leaving every schedule I have, to go stand in lines at the airports, to wait for baggage, to answer immigration officers' questions, etc, takes its toll. I am discovering more and more that I don't like to travel much. I'm finding out that I'm happiest with my family, close friends, daily routine, and doing one or two inspired things in a week (like my Ultimate Frisbee or Salsa). I'm finding out that my needs are actually quite simple. Looking back 20 years from now, I'd be happier if I spent a lot of time with my family & close friends, creating some value around me, and doing work in a position of responsibility where I can truly contribute something unique. I wouldn't really care for all the countries I'd have visited on the job. Infact, I'd even go back to an engineering position, if it gave me good responsibilities and a way to use my brains. Finally, all it is just work to me. Something which I need to be happy to do. Anything that will offer me a challenge. Be it engineering, marketing, finance or management. Maybe, I just feel this because of what looks like a daunting travel schedule ahead of me. It is indeed funny how experimenting/trying out really helps one discover themselves.

At this point, I realize that the biggest favour/help/support one can do/give for another person, is to give them the freedom to experiment. Thankfully everyone around me, has given me that.. and it has help me discover myself. I truly feel at this point, that I should encourage everyone to experiment. Learning from others' experience is only so much. Most of it has to come from one's own adventures!

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Blogger LifeIsAGame said...

I've been pouring over your blogs the last couple of days. It will be an understatement to say many of your writings on life resonates a lot with how I felt/feel. Thoughts well captured :).

4:22 PM  

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