It’s been awhile.
My Rishikesh dream led me, by way of a lazy 72-hour journey south, to Gokarna.
Here the days were hazy and blistering, followed by nights lit by stars and candles on the beach. Strangers cavorted and slowly fell into a rhythmic prelude that stole as much as it gave. Gravelly mornings were lost listening to the broken garble of psy-trance Indian DJ’s and glazy glittery Germans. On afternoon walks in the scorching heat we discovered small Indian towns and further, paradises hidden by jutting cliffs and jungle paths.
I boarded buses and trains, rickshaws and taxis – all journeys of their own, and all deserving of their own story, which maybe one day I will get around to telling.
Goa swallowed the following weeks. A melding pot of edgy and ambient and all things contradictory, reminding me again how India rises as it falls and nurtures as it rattles. Long days were lost melting in the ocean, collecting shells and walking just to walk. Mornings on my yoga mat, followed by fruit and chai, and then nights softened by cocktails and delicious South Indian fare. I found new family and shared moments bathed in lustre and discovery, and heard tales from far off lands I barely knew existed. There were corrupt police wanting for the sake of want. There were scooter rides through lush winding roads that led to places off the map. Laughter, sunshine, tears, and moonshine filled me up and then in a culmination of three months of learning, love and lessons – my Indian adventure halted abruptly. The night of goodbye came with a hellish 3am taxi ride to catch a flight that was cancelled and an 18-hour wait for the next plane out.
She wanted me to stay, my India.
And as I left the place that had provided me with all I had been seeking and more, in the darkness, I felt tears wet my face. I was looking forward again, brandishing a bag of invisible realisations, hopes and dreams but I also knew a very important and very beautiful chapter of my life was ending. I also knew however, I would one day return. Eventually I woke to find myself in a new country, a new culture and whole new way of life. Fortunately there was a beautiful smiling face from home to greet me and the hours that followed were spent sharing stories and silence, equally as enthralling as comfortable.
If anywhere could provide a distinct contrast to India, it was Singapore; clean and orderly, expensive and shiny. All that glitters however is not gold.
It rained for days and New Years Eve was spent quietly in a small dorm on Lavender Street watching the rain fall in torrents. My silent sober new year resolutions resounded more clearly than ever what I wished to add to my life, more so than what I would remove from it.
It was a turning point and one I have since reflected on many times.
We left early on the first day of a new year to find the elusive bus 101, navigate through customs and then board the train to Kuala Lumpur. The northward journey promised sunnier days. Arriving in Malaysia we found a nice room, the nicest I had seen for a long time. After paying, a kind man advised that the nightclub downstairs may play some music until 3am. Turns out that music saw the walls shake until sunrise. I can now say I am back in the loop with the mainstream music scene, probably more in the loop than I would like.
Island hopping began and without so much as a vague idea of where we were heading, we found ourselves in Pulau Pangkor (beautiful and eerily quiet), followed by Pulau Penang (not so beautiful and crazily busy) and eventually Pulau Langkawi (a mix of the two), from where I write this post.
It’s been a fabulous few months. The days are now hot and humid. I’ve seen too much sun, sweated litres, and although my India belly is slowly disappearing, the happiness it has brought me, is not.
I have realised many great things on this journey so far. I have seen happy and sad, wealth and poverty, hope and despair, love and loss. But there is one thing that resonates louder with every passing day…
It is not about what you’ve got, it is more about what you are able to give without want for something back. Only then can you know love, and what it means to be free.