Thailand was my first completely solo trip.
I pre-landed in Bangkok at 5 AM. In the on-arrival visa line, a friendly attendant helped me skip the line and processed my visa faster. The airport was far out of the city and having decided that I would take a public transport, I climbed into an about-to-crumble bus to go into the city.
In the three-hour-long bus ride, as long as the flight from Bengaluru to Bangkok, a lady passenger helped to hold my bag and told me that I was beautiful as I managed to not-faint in the crowded aisle. The bus crawled a kilometer in almost an hour. Due to my skepticism of being able to explain the situation to the angry and rude lady ticket collector and the bus driver, I didn’t leave the bus to hop into a taxi. She kept buying weird looking dumplings for him from the street while I craved and my stomach growled.
The bus ride wasn’t enough torture that I had to climb four levels of steep, dingy stairs with my suitcase to reach my just-enough, single, air-conditioned room.
Tired, hungry, and lonely, I went down for food and ate a mediocre Pad Thai. Having grabbed a few cold water bottles from the fridge downstairs, I climbed back up again. Sudden rudeness and a hint of racism coupled with the sleep deprivation and loneliness made me sleep for almost 5 hours.
It wasn’t just that.
Why do we need a purposeful, meaningful life?
We are born, we start breathing, do a few things like school, college, job, and then die. Each one of us — hopefully — adds something to the world, we all evolve, become smarter, and this repeats.
In the end, we do not come out alive then why does everything — a broken relationship, a lay off, a fight at work, a stomach ache, a smartwatch — matter so much? What is it all adding up to? Evolution?
It is adding up to life — to these moments that the life is collectively composed of.
Why is it important to have a purpose, meaning to our life? So that all these moments together are a melodious song and not a cacophonous cry.
Everyone asks me why do I travel, where did I go, what did I do, what did I see, how did I feel, how did I manage such long travels, and how did my family react?
They say that I am lucky that I get to travel so much.
I smile. Sometimes, I lecture that everyone can travel. Why don’t you take a sabbatical and go?
People laugh. They shake their heads as if I had asked them to do the impossible. They say it is not easy. What would their parents say? Office won’t allow. Their partner is settled here. It would be too expensive.
They think these are unique problems.
I thought this day would never come but I am six days away from turning 30. I would have to change both the digits of my age in all the pre-filled forms on the internet.
A twenty something me was working for software and finance giants, drinking way too much way too often vomiting in pubs and on Karnataka – Tamil Nadu highways, angry with family, running after people, quitting work many times, roaming around the world on my own when my mother thought I was at home or traveling with a friend, falling in love too many times, living in with someone knowing it was not going anywhere and feeling shattered when the obvious happened, cooking in restaurants and my own kitchen for hours, almost gone to Italy for a culinary course, dragging strangers to dance floors in pubs and bars, stranded at South American borders, taking lifts from random people on streets at random times, saying things that should have been kept private, unsure of what I wanted.