“Happiness comes from within.”
“Life is about finding yourself.”
“You have nothing to fear except fear yourself.”
If any of the above statements seem ground-breaking or uniquely thought-provoking to you, then please, stop reading. If you are anything like me and you think they are so general and overused that they are almost entirely devoid of meaning… then please, read on.
India is a vast and marvelous country. If you’re looking for a toilet or a bin, it’s all around you. The food is amazing (literally anywhere you go, the incredible food is served… even the French can’t claim that). The people are extremely warm and kind (for the most part). Apart from the pollution and the occasional blast of Eau de Urine, the most annoying thing in India, is us. Foreign tourists. God, we are annoying. Living in Barcelona has taught me many things. Nature is valuable, appreciate it. Nationalism will be the death of us all. Good food can be cheap. Folk music is not only The Corrs. But most importantly, it has taught me that tourists are generally annoying, misinformed and …. yeah annoying again…
Travelling around, I do my very best not to copy the behaviors of the tourists I dislike in Barcelona. I know that it’s not really possible. I’m a foreigner here and to all extended purposes I look and act like one. But I try not to fall into the typical traps.
The problem with India is the people who come to “find themselves.” I personally wasn’t aware that I needed to find myself as I wasn’t aware I was lost or missing. But strangely, there are a lot of late twenties, early thirties western people who have beards, work in offices, drink soya milk and have apple macs, who are in desperate need of finding themselves.
This whole nonsense is quite new to me and it seems that in order to find yourself, you need to come to Rishikesh (Northern India), stay in a really cheap guest house (with WiFi), eat Israeli salad (basic salad that every restaurant serves… with an olive on it), do yoga, smoke weed, and most importantly, you need to tell everyone how you have found yourself.
The following is a series of conversations I have over-heard, or sadly, been a part of, in this beautiful mountain town.
2 Danish girls chatting by a river. (in English oddly)
Girl 1 – Yeah. And even though, my Grandmother is gone. It’s like, she’s not gone, because she’s here… in my heart.
Girl 2 – Wow. That’s so nice.
Girl 1 – I know that she’s watching over me.
Girl 2 – Aww.
Girl 1 – And I know that she’s proud that I’ve come here to explore… like… myself and who am I.
Girl 2 – That’s amazing.
Girl 1 – She always used to tell me to believe in myself and, you know, I still talk to her. I still say ‘hi’ and tell what I am doing.
Girl 2 – Wow.
As you can see, the second girl, is just a barrel of conversation with vocabulary flying all over the place. I was tempted to join in their conversation, but they both looked really sweet, so I just let them waffle on.
Girl 1 – I think she’s listening to me, from up on a cloud.
Girl 2 – Yeah.
Girl 1 – And I know that as long as I believe she’s listening to me, she believes in me.
Oh God,… about to vomit.
Of course, for emotional shite, no nation does it better than the glorious Americans.
American talking to me and my friend Darren on rooftop hostel about Rishikesh.
American – I mean, it’s great and it’s really beautiful.
Darren – Right. Wow. Yeah, that sounds great.
American – You just get to relax and be yourself and really connect with yourself.
Dareen – Aha. I see.
American – I’ve been to like 29 countries and….
What kind of loser does count those kinds of things? Travelling is like glasses of wine, or sexual partners. The more, the better, but don’t fucking count them.
American – I really learned a lot there. It opened me up for having new experiences.
Darren – God, amazing. Hey, Shane, we should definitely go there.
Me – Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh.
American – It’s not a place for tourists though…
It’s more touristy than the Guinness Factory on March 17th.
American – It’s more for like travelers.
Me – Wow. Yeah. Because we consider ourselves travelers unlike tourists, isn’t that right, Darren? We are trying to find our……
American – I feel like I’m more than a traveler. Because travelers idly move around while I’m like on a journey.
Darren – Yeah. That’s great, man. So where else have you been?
Ok. Darren. Bless Darren. Darren is one of the greatest people ever, because he did something none of my friends would do. He traveled 7 hours by train with me and 7 hours by bus with me. There are few people (probably no one) that would ever do that. To anyone reading that knows me… just think about it… would you do it? I’m pretty annoying when I’m in a good mood, just imagine.
Darren continued to talk to this American long into the night while I left and when downstairs.
Two girls in Starbucks.
Girl 1 – I can’t believe I’m finally here.
Girl 2 – You made it. Hi. I am so happy to see you.
Girl 1 – God this place is beautiful.
She looks all around the room of the Starbucks cafe, but I get the impression she is talking about India rather than Starbucks.
Girl 2 – You’re gonna love it here. We are gonna have so much fun.
Girl 1 – I can’t wait. I can already feel like this kinda of energy… I guess.
Probably the industrial air conditioning unit.
Girl 1 – I just really wanna be free and health and detox.
Waiter – Your double caramel espresso, Madam.
Girl 1 – Oh, thank you.
She does that super irritating thing of joining her hands and bowing to the waiter, like she’s in Japan in the 1800’s.
I’ve only been here for less than 48 hours and I’m off to the mountains. So, this is only Part 1, as I sense that I will literally be exploding with nonsense by this time next week.
To end this entry, I thought I’d finish with some expressions that I think do have some meaning………… for me anyway.
“The business of life is the acquisition of memories.”
“Music begins where words cease.”
“It is important to bow to the past, but never to be bound by it.”