I don’t wanna travel the world


Living in New Zealand, I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of people from different countries. The biggest advantage of meeting people is that most of them are/were traveling the world. The disadvantage of meeting people is that most of them are/were travelers.


I remember a Belgian guy from the first group of travelers I had met. He started calling me ‘Mayo’ and the name has stuck since. He showed me his passport, it was full of immigration stamps from different countries. I was fascinated by his passport and since then my first question to any traveler is to see their passport.

Recently I met a woman who has been on all of the 6 continents and plans to set foot on Antarctica at the end of the year. We were on our way to Raglan with two others, both of them had traveled a bit.

Sitting in the car with them, we ( they ) spoke about their trips. The adventures they have been on and the different cultures they have seen. It was entertaining to listen to them recall their great moments and the highs of their years past. All of them were 6-7 years older than me.


Mumbai is big and everyone knows that. I have lived there all my life prior to moving to Auckland and even then I haven’t seen everything. There are areas I have never been to, suburbs I have no clue where they are located. I don’t even know all of the suburbs in my hometown.

Auckland is similar. It is not huge but most of the areas are unknown. I haven’t seen everything, I don’t know all of the beaches. I don’t know the best bars or the perfect restaurants, haven’t hiked all of the hills.


“Where do you wanna go?”

“Nowhere” I replied, “I don’t wanna travel”


The fact that I haven’t actually been everywhere in Auckland is half an answer. It is not crucial but it is the easiest one to say offhand.

It took me a long time to get adjusted to this place ( moving houses multiple times didn’t improve the situation either ). It took a long time to build something resembling a life here and I don’t see why I would wanna leave anything behind.

I like the stability. I like the familiarity that the city offers ( Auckland/Mumbai ), the sense of being home. Traveling in itself is not a significant reason for me to leave my life behind. I don’t wanna live my life off a backpack even though I like minimalism. I don’t wanna be on the road for months at a time even though I don’t mind weekend getaways. I don’t wanna be at the mercy of the strangers that I encounter even though I have read enough tales strangers’ kindness. I don’t wanna talk about the feeling of loneliness or knowing the fact that most of the people you will ever meet traveling, you might never see again.

In today’s age, when everyone travels the world in their gap year or being on the road is associated with maturity, making my point is hard.

It is easy to find something new and exciting when the city is new. It takes time to find something exciting amidst familiar settings. I just think the latter lasts longer.

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About Glowworms


This last weekend I was in Raglan, a small cute little town along the west coast of New Zealand. I did a lot of things that I have never done before. I jumped off waterfalls, walked in a forest in the dark ( and made new friends? ). It was a great weekend. I had the privilege of seeing glowworms.

Yes, it was a privilege.

We were canyoning along a stream, stream’s name I never bothered to ask. I knew I was gonna see glowworms as that is what we went for. The glowworms just blew my mind.

glowworm-cave

I couldn’t find a suitable image glowworm canyoning, so glowworms in a cave it is. Credits: http://wallpapersdsc.net

I have to just close my eyes to see them again. The river was dark, the sky a shadow of light and the trees silhouettes against the faint sky. The trees’ branches swayed and leaves made rustling sounds as the wind flowed. The sound of water splashing against the rocks. Just behind some of the shrubs and weeds I would see a shining dot. Just a dot, no different that a star on a clear night.

A star that was a few inches away from me.

With focus, I saw more glowworms. It isn’t exactly apparent to know if what I was seeing were glowworms or a reflection of our head beams but soon I could see the difference in the colors. I grinning from ear to ear at the beauty around me. I would frequently tell everyone to shut off their head beams so I could look at the glowworms. I slowed them as I kept stopping to checkout the glowworms.

Of course I didn’t really need to slow down and turn off my head beam. I could also shine a red light that allowed me to see glowworms but I didn’t know that. Our guide, Anne,  told us about glowworms and how they actually shine lights. It is a long story and you could read about it here.

The story is not beautiful and in fact it is carnivorous. Regardless, the glowworms’ beauty didn’t diminish in my eyes. We were at the last leg of our trip, it was pitch black now and we had shut off our head beams completely. There was no light, the moon was hiding behind clouds promising rain. We were the only 5 people in the stream. But we weren’t really alone. We were sitting down on the rocks in the stream. Our guide poured us some cinnamon tea which we shared, the beverage being the only source of warmth around us; it made me aware of how tired and cold I was. Our guide said that the last part was like a scene out of Avator.

Avator had a scene out of our world.

There were eels and there were snails in the stream. These snails secreted a glowing chemical so the water also glowed in patches. And the glowworms, oh the glowworms were surrounding us, in their hundreds, nay, in their thousands all around us.

They were in scattered without any apparent pattern but their randomness gave birth to multitudes of connections. In those last 5 minutes of story time in the stream, with the thousands of glowworms, not only was I not alone but I could see that I was not alone.

 

How hard can it be? (New Plymouth-Paritutu Rock Edition)


(My weekend was not hard except this bit. Considering how much fun I had writing last week’s post, I wanted to continue this. I might write an entire post about my New Plymouth trip later)

‘Is it hard?’ someone in the van asked. A guy, let’s call him C had done it before with his partner L said ‘You need good upper body strength to do it. L did it!’

Well, if L was able to do it, I thought how hard can it be?

My fear of cliffs and shear drops was forgotten. See a while back, while walking along the coastal hills in Piha in West Auckland, I found that I am scared of heights. I can do it but I would rather not stand close to the edge and look down at the abrupt chasm. I can walk on any height as long as I don’t have to look down at a cliff.

Paritutu Rock is hardly 100 ms, located at the edge of New Plymouth over looking the ocean. Hikes take the stairs halfway and then reach the peak rock climbing. The climb isn’t vertical so you can use just your feet while getting to the top.

I went on all fours. And I made the mistake of looking down halfway through. I bit down a scream because I was at a cliff looking down at the embrace of harbor rocks. I swear they were arranged hands spread apart.

View Down, Credits: D

I knew coming down would be harder. For the residents of the city, the hike would/should be a weekly exercise. I saw a family descending with their 6 year old daughter while I was standing at the same edge with A. It was sobering moment, cause I was really tempted to go back down.

I was right about one thing: coming down was harder and scarier. If I slipped, I would tumble down on hard rocks all the way, if I don’t fall off a cliff. My left knee (I guess the ice skating issue) had to bother me while descending too. Great!

I took my time. I didn’t care that children were climbing a million times more gracefully than I was. I squatted to keep balance, used my hands for grips slowly covered ground (or rocks?). My eyes were wide open and I don’t think I was blinking them anymore. I told (pleaded?) others behind me, ‘Don’t rush me’.

The only solace descending was I could the carpark getting closer. I knew I wasn’t just going around in circles. I took more time than my group and they were waiting for me at the carpark.I reached the stairs but didn’t stop till I reached my group. K asked me ‘How’s it?’, my face must have shown my fears. I blew out some air while nodding and sat down, allowing my fear to take over.

‘How hard can it be?’ I thought and had a small laugh. I realized that my week could have been completely different, I could have been walking around snow clad Mt Taranaki. The cliff on Taranaki would have been so much scarier.

Of course, it was worth it. The view from the top of the rock was splendid-breathtaking-astonishing and my vocabulary can’t cover it. As I got the summit, to the left, I could see the New Plymouth arrayed systematically like legos. I could see Mt Taranaki in the distance beyond the city, staunch and inviting in its white attire. Clouds obscured the peak from time to time, testing the patience of the group’s photographers H and D. The view on the opposite side was even better.

New Plymouth, Credits: H

I was standing on the edge of the world. If I started sailing straight from there I might not encounter any land till Africa. Edge of the World with nothing but blue sky shading the ocean with a darker hue, the sky and ocean seemed to be going a long way and finally meeting at the horizons. I could hear seagulls, I could see the waves crashing on the shore.

Ocean, Credits: A

Now, if I do that again, I will not be afraid. I could do it when I was scared, I could do it again. In fact, I am looking forward to the next trip and I am hoping that someone invites me for the hike to Mt Taranaki soon.

After all, how hard can that be?

Weekend, Credits: D

Nostalgia and Family


After two years of hard work, failures and obstacles that still seem unbeatable me and my family now have finally done it. I write my very first post from Auckland, New Zealand.

The road has been not been easy. The last six months were the hardest months that I had. Almost zero friends, a job which I didn’t fully enjoy and a slippery future were everyday thoughts. I crawled through the thick and thin, some days having support and the other days with my head bowed in guilt and loneliness.

The day before was the family dinner. Just the four of us, no Jimmy because restaurants are not exactly animal friendly here. We walked, and for the first time my elder brother, Navin was not fussing about my clothes. The dinner was never going to be a grand gesture, nothing flimflam but just something we do. Thanks to the India-Sri Lanka T20 match, the table talk was not filled with awkward silences.

*

I love food. But I love eating the comfort familiar food more than trying out different new dishes. Give me a new cuisine and I might excuse myself. Give me Dal Rice and I will definitely ask for more, probably with some fried potato slices. So the menu for me was fixed: tomato soup, Chicken lollipop, Nan and curries.

Familiar Dishes. Dishes with which I have grew up with.

The other day while roaming my town to complete some work (still pending and I’m worried about it.) and it was then I realised that there is so much that’s left to eat. I walked, music played by my phone echoing my mood, remembering all the small stalls where I would eat. Junk food, delicious food and places which I will not visit for over a year now. A couple of blocks away from where I was, an awesome vada pav (Indian Burger) stall is located. He would add chat masala and onions as garnish. I remember the innumerable times I finished my tuitions and ate there. That Idli corner or the sugarcane juice stall or the Pav Bhaji stall.. My mind raced and my belly growled.

So as I walked, ignoring my belly’s urge to go and eat away the food again. I did eat most of the said food but there’s only so much time I had.

*

So the family dinner was no different. As we four walked back home, I looked around trying to soak in every scent of my neighbourhood. To remember the school and the college, because I know I’m going to miss it when I’m gone. My school, where I spent 7 years is now a mammoth structure that is sucking the marrow off parents savings. The school is under reconstruction for years now and who would send their children to a school that is under construction. Or so I thought as the school is only getting bigger and prosperous. It’s just school management’s greed to run the school.

A couple of my school classmates houses past, my memory gates opened and I was inundated: the corner sweetshop Kaveri sweets which became so popular that everyone renamed the bus stop. I lived and saw throught the slow gradual process of renaming a locality took place. Half a block past is a building which once was the dream building: from the gates of the building it looks as if there is an city inside. Opposite to the building is the power office. When we were in school we would come home, me and Navin and look at the schedule for power cut and whine about having to miss Pokémon again.

Not everything was the same though. New sitting benches have been put up, the evenings now host a vegetable market. Not everything resembles my childhood.

But most of the things do.

The temple which would be the study spot for everyone as exam day arrived. Or the upslope road where my brother rode his bicycle with me seated behind. I was always lazy.

I was too busy in my nostalgia that I fell behind mom and dad. Every single place had a memory with it. Some with mom. Some with dad. Most of them with Navin. A tiny smile lit my face, a genuine smile which I missed in my life for long. I love this place, my neighbourhood.

As we climbed up my building stairs, memories kept me alert and reminiscent of my surroundings. I even recalled the smooth feeling of a wall which has long been remodeled. My building once has no automobiles parked now has a parade of cars, new and old, motor bikes and cycles. So much has changed and I want to say it happened too quick. It didn’t. I lived here since November 2002, 13 years.

I played with Jimmy, I make him run around the house and in no time he is tired and grinning his signature. I don’t think my dog has a sixth sense. He should be the emotional one and he is licking his butt.

I always said. Jimmy is an idiot.

*

Overwhelmed I wrote this before sleeping in my bed that night. My last night in my bed. Next day the very first thing was to change the location of my bed to accommodate some furniture and so my bed had to move.

My Mom knows me best and she senses the tiny changes in me. Mom teased “Enjoy the bed.” I laughingly say yes. Even though the lights are off but I’m sure my mom heard my smile in the dark.

Even after the lights are off I am still thinking about everything: from the way my brother talks and behaves. From my dad’s logic to my mom’s emotions to my dog’s stupidity: I cannot help but recall every instance that I have spent with them. I don’t remember what I dreamt that night but I am sure I dreamt about them.

*

Final day was full of nervous excitement for everyone. There is so much riding on me now, everyone had done so much for this. The unexpected surprise came when Navin made a special farewell video for me. I knew he was working on something but never thought he would make, edit an entire video.

Navin always had a good taste in music so obviously the chouse of music would be good. He roped in his friends, mom and dad into the video too and I watched barely controlling my quivering lips while with me exclaiming ‘Aap bhi ho?!’ (you are also featured in the video!) Trust my brother for a surprise and he never disappoints.

*

Mom and dad say Navin and me always fight. We argue, occassionally we fight too but at the end of the day there is hardly anyone more important to me than he and my parents. I got calls from friends and relatives wishing me good luck for my abroad trip. I never told anyone of them that its not that I am going abroad, the thing is I am leaving my family behind.

My parents worry about us both. They shouldn’t really. Not anymore: they raised two great kids.

*

Mom quickly made some delicious ladoos which I inevitably forgot. Now I regret forgetting the ladoos because the food at the Hong Kong Airport is either too expensive or just too bland for my taste.

Yesterday when we arrived at the Mumbai airport we were awestruck with the arcitechure and colossal size of the terminal. Somehow, despite my anxiety I sat down on the plane and braced myself for the take off. But my mind was still fixed on my family. I already know the first thing that I will miss when I reach in Auckland.

In India, I can call up Navin or Mom for anything that I want to ask. Now, regardless of the advanced internet calling services, that one thing will be missing. I can only keep them in loop but at the end I have to make the decision. It does not sound like a big deal but it is. My family always has my back and I will have their back; now there would be a distance of 5000+ miles and a time gap of 8 hours.

*

It was easy to get lost in the moment as I boarded the plane. First time experience, the gravity pull and push as the plane changes altitude. The sight of Mumbai from the sky; the sight of New Zealand as I flew past the shores of this amazing and beautiful country.

It’s quiet here: country side and the people are friendly. I love this place already.

*

Last night in flight I dreamt of the way my parents talk. How Navin would ask for something and Dad would just shoot him down. How I used to laugh at the embarrassing situations that I or anyone else faced. I have no idea how they lived with me laughing like an ass for so many years. Now, I am thinking of how will they do things. Who will walk Jimmy? Who will feed the plants? Will mom eat after coming home from work? Will dad tell me if there is something’s going on?

If I ask them this question they would tell me to just focus on my studies. I will focus on my studies and make a career. They have always been right about this: I can’t do everything at the same time.

Thank you Mom, Dad, Navin. Thank you everyone who wished me well.