Travel and Time

I sit in my sordid little room contemplating the dirty white walls and waiting. Time is such a funny thing. When you are working you never have enough of it, and when you do manage to get a day or two off you waste it by sitting around doing nothing or scurrying about in a frenzy trying to get an impossible amount of things done.

The Indian philosophy of time is: whenever; everything happens whenever. I don’t have to pay my hotel bill at a certain time. I don’t have to check out at a certain time. I don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time because I can do it whenever. This is the first moment in a while where I’ve sat wasting time, waiting for my flight. It seems that I have now exited Indian time and have entered travel time.

The waiting has made me mindful of the loneliness. Sometimes it hits you and it completely overwhelms you like you’re drowning. I find it eerie that no one in the world knows where I am right now; they all think I am in Taipei visiting Miles. And, they won’t know where I am until they get my letters. That makes me feel even more isolated. When you are at home and in your room or sitting by yourself you are not really alone. There are people around you (in the next room perhaps) who know who you are, know all about you, where you have been and what you have seen. They don’t have to ask you those questions. When you are traveling there are a bunch of strange faces and heads full of stories you don’t know.

On the other side of the world no one could know what it’s like to be in India, the range of emotions that you feel, the ups and downs. I couldn’t begin to explain the bureaucratic tangles that exist, the intense frustration of trying to do something as simple as find something to eat, the smell of sewage and garbage everywhere, the smell of putrid outhouses and rotting vegetables. You can tell someone about these things but until they’ve experienced it the message isn’t adequately conveyed. This could be why travellers only give the glossy details of their trips. Why would anyone want to hear how disgusting, horrible, frustrating and miserable it sometimes is? Instead I will tell people about all the wonderful things: the history, the culture, and the people.

I’m a little scared about leaving the sanctuary of the Hotel Regent but my time in Madras has come to an end. The best piece of advice that I’ve heard so far comes from Marcus, a backpacker from Australia: “Just do it. Don’t worry about whether your trip will work out. Just go and things will work themselves out.”

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