Traveling 2016: Year End Review

Year: 2016
On the road: Just about 4 months
Countries: Australia, India, Taiwan

It is hard to write this 2016 review post because I am in a bit of a daze. Since September to mid-December my life has been on one intensely awesome ride that I find hard to grasp. So much in life has changed in a great way and I feel that if I wrote it down I might lose it. Maybe things will ‘come back to normal’ which is not desired at all. But as with everything the moment even a thread of fear enters my heart, I must face it. So here goes,

Anyway in life I have no interest in wasting time on stuff that is transient. So let me try and articulate about the 3 and half months traveling.

Firstly this was my longest continuous trip so far. This was just my second solo international trip – the first being cycling in Europe. And I was carrying my bicycle from India to everywhere and back. There were two completely new countries – Australia and Taiwan.

Australia culture-wise was fairly normal – western. But the land, the flora & fauna were a new experience. The weather was also a new experience – I have never spent so much time in such cold and that too camping many days. After my trip to Europe it was awesome to find that there was hardly any language barrier. So long conversations with people started happening. Eventually I made some really good friends.

And the friends really are one of the most special things that happened on this trip. Because they were deep relations that sprang up. Matters which I barely share with people around me, I have shared with them. And few of these friends are fairly hardcore into spirituality – this is special for me. Because traditionally in India, a spiritual circle of sadhakas are considered invaluable and I can understand why. But I didn’t have any. Also the unique situation about the spiritual path I was following made it hard for me to actually form a circle too. But that has now changed. So grateful for this.

Taiwan was a whole surprise because I simply didn’t expect such progress. I was also amazed by the feeling of Zen I have felt in that country. So much simplicity, homeliness and happiness. It was very lovely. This was my first experience of the East Asian culture and truly I am very happy with my time here. I loved cycling in this country with long bike paths, traffic which reminded me of India and the safety to leave my cycle (with luggage) unattended, anywhere. I was also part of the Formosa 900 cycling event, here I met a whole eclectic bunch of international folks – while I absolutely love my solitude – this was really an amazing experience of knowing different cultures. This event also pushed my cycling efforts and now I could do 100 km rides and quite easily think of 200 km rides. (No, not 300km rides – that is madness!)

Talking about cycling – a whole bunch of learnings from camping/cycling in cold climates, learning cycle gears and doing hilly terrain in Australia to riding up two mountains (1400ft) in Taiwan  – I now feel fairly adept at cycle touring. And this feels amazing. I actually can’t wait to go on my next 100km ride – this for me is an amazing personal change, because I was never into fitness stuff. But apart from the kilometres…. this trip brought home to me how much I love cycling. I just want to cycle more.

Then the 20 days in Tamil Nadu – I did my first solo cycle touring in India. This was crazy. It was only in my last few days in Taiwan that I just wanted to do this in India. Earlier I never considered it because I didn’t think it was safe. Well amazing then that I actually went on two rides from Chennai to Kanchipuram and then from Kanchipuram to Thiruvannamali. And to end up at the Ramanasramam at Thiruvannamalai was overwhelming. I felt so guided on my ride from Kanchipuram, it has truly made a huge impact on me and I can hardly even articulate this in words now.

Layers and layers of impact this trip has had on me which I am slowly beginning to grasp. Moreover while all of this was happening, on the personal front a roller-coaster ride was taking place about a very dear person who I had not been in touch with for many years. And so as I sit now at home typing this post, I am back in Mumbai and continuing with my usual work stuff, let me tell you – there is absolutely nothing ‘usual’ about how I am within. Life is way more enigmatic, significant and striking than I have ever found it before.

And I am beyond grateful for the way life has panned out. And for this I can only bow down to my Gurus without whom none of this may have ever happened. They are everything to me. And also glad for all the loved ones for their well wishes. And acknowledging all the positivity out in the  world that in so many forms always aids awesome kids like me 🙂

traveling 2016
At Ramanashramam
traveling 2016
Bowing down to SadhguruJV at a Chennai center

While it feels like nothing before this big trip really compares… the truth is all my small trips and explorations lead to much deeper experiences later on. People seem to think something big can randomly happen with no real preparation but I don’t think that ever happens. The small, little efforts we keep making – it then leads to big leap. And so here is recognizing these small explorations:

Visited Kolkata in July. I had been here earlier but always as a family trip. This time I took time out and explored this town as a traveler and as usual – fascinated. Along with it I visited Orissa for the first time. At Jagannath Puri I rented one of those steel 15/- bikes and was pedalling away around town. Konark was another amazing visit, I was blown by what the temple would have been at its peak. Experienced the Simhasth kumbhmela at Ujjain in May, another brilliant experience with lot of impact. And a short trip to Adalaj, Ahmedabad – another ashram experience.

Looking forward a grand adventure 2017 🙂