26 Years, 7 Days

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I travel unprepared.

Amongst some of the notably stupid things I indulge in, booking tickets a few hour before the flight is one. I've almost, always done that. It's not that Adani adopted me or Kumar Mangalam Birla is funding my travels, but I truly cannot commit to anything- even vacation- for anything over 24 hours in advance and taking forward this stress a month in advance, is not my idea of "having fun".

Yet, here I am. Somewhere high up, in sky or in my head. Or probably both if I'm lucky and alive.

You see, *this* trip was planned about a month ago and the amount of stress it caused me, it could kill an already dead patient due to heart blockage. Let me explain how-

For an ordinary person, a vacation is a way to de-stress, involving being uncomfortable, being adventurous and even for that matter being out of the known and into the wilderness. My idea of vacation is having done triple the amount of research I do, for anything, going over Tumblr, blogs, internet content, magazines like an obsessive maniac just so I could know and potentially have control over any problem I may encounter during my stay. I want to know what colour of the bedsheets I can potentially have when I land in a hotel, and what condiment will the shack serve with the Fried Rice I plan to order for my lunch on the second day. I should see a therapist, but let me complete.

More often than not, these trips are fucking hard on me. I break down in rash, I throw up, I'm sick. All this happens because I'm stressed and more so, because my head is convinced that I need to have it all under control. The potential for stress stems from the shit brewing in my head. The nagging feeling that surrounds me goes like this, "You can't all this fun, something must go wrong" and so I wait. I wait for something to change, a plan to modify, a meal unavailable, a piece of garment I imagined I would buy sold out-all this and more in the span of 5 minutes. I take my research to places unimaginable, including booking hotel to much in advance that I regret for the remaining evening and the time leading to the trip, why did I create that urgency.

Naturally, vacations are stressful because I've been taking them with my friends or myself. I feel the ones where I take myself, I'm far more lackadaisical and composed than the ones which I undertake with my friends. I feel being responsible for myself is okay, not that my friends or partners ever expect me to take care of them while traveling. Because I'm a Type A asshole, and because I'd like to believe I have taken precautions and I'll most likely be having fun, I'm responsible for anything that may go wrong, whether it's controllable by me or been going wrong due to me. Add to this, splitting headache, anxiety, and this sense of doom.

When I was in Eight Grade, my school took us for an ambitious trip to Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. I don't remember much except for dying in the fucking cold in January at night. Those guys had provided us only Jaipuri Razai and let me tell you, it can freeze your balls out. There was camel poop and aloo poori in the five days that we travelled in all permutations and combinations. Despite being all of 13, I vowed to never visit Rajasthan again. I think I broke that twice since, but goddamn not Rajasthan. I don't remember what exactly was so wrong but I do remember taking this idea of no trip to this state whatsoever. A blanket ban.

I remember the dates very well. Before leaving, my grandmother had assisted in packing clothes, in fawning over me. In doing all possibly grandmotherly things one can indulge in. I also remember on two occasions speaking to her on the phone. The second time, she was talking as though she's half asleep. It didn't occur to me, things had gone awry.

When I returned in the end of January, my grandmother was in semi-coma. Delirious, not making sense and definitely not waking up. Now, as an adult I know that the doctors had given up and she wanted to pass away peacefully at home. The adults in the family knew about this some months ago that it was time for her to go.

Back in the day, it didn't occur what went wrong. I'd left her, sick but in her senses and I came back to a corpse on a bed, in that state for three weeks where people would visit us and look grave.

I think about being 13 a lot. About how naive I was and how it helped me to get past that time. I don't think I'd be able to do it today, with the same innocence that I moved past. That's the beauty of being young and stupid. You bypass so many things easily.

Somewhere at the back of my mind, each time I travel, I feel I won't come back to things just as how they are. It makes me crave for banal and stay in banal. It makes me dig routine more than Canadians love Poutine. I actively look forward to days when the five members of my house are doing nothing more inspiring than eating dinner at home and watching TV. You have no idea how fucking nice it is to have "normal" things, as opposed to thousands of people flocking your place in a month to see a dying exhibit. You wouldn't imagine what it's like to be on a vacation and come back to see the entire life change before your eyes.

Which is why, I control situations. If not for others, for myself. I like to take charge and do only those things which I have done and they have paid back in making me least bit happy. Often, the research I do helps me make a better decision when I'm in control, and the vacations that I don't take, help me retain my sanity.

Here I am, floating between land and ether, writing all this and promising how I'll try to be better.

I've no idea how things will be when I return home. If people will continue being okay, if I'll be the same. I can just hope that I don't beat myself too hard for the rest of my life if something goes wrong.

But you know what they say, don't you? If something has to go wrong, it will go wrong. Maybe they'll stop my luggage for bringing 20 pairs of socks, maybe we'll miss our flight, maybe I'll die 30,000 feet in the air. I won't know, and I certainly don't know.

You miss all the shots you don't take and so here am I, a week into being 26. Taking all my shots just as how life presented it to me, with a slice of lemon.


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