Hola! Hope you're smiling :)
A solo traveler is the last person in this imperfect world to deserve any sympathy. So you went on a holiday that over half of the world’s population cannot afford to even think about. You return home after spending days lazing in foreign lands, exploring, having a great time and now you are sad that you are back home to the rut. Post holiday depression is the most horrible sounding problem anybody can possibly have, much worse, one can’t dare share this embarrassing yet deeply painful, inevitable misery that rips apart the heart of a traveler that just got home.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not about getting home, there’s no sadness in that, one is of course happy to be home. It is purely about not being somewhere else.
I think I will forever be haunted, beaten, torn with the limitation of my reality that I can only be at one place at a time, meaning that I am not somewhere else where my mind wanders, where my soul is looking for solace. I am here now and I wish I was someplace else though absolutely, truly in love with the place I am currently at. My best friend tells me that I need to calm down, enjoy moments of stillness, let peace flow through me and rise above geographical desires so I understand the wisdom of my current habitat.
Imagine suddenly being put in the centre of a new world, England was that world for me and no matter how much I read about it, how vividly I imagined it right from the times of Dickens to the latest Boyd, a new place is a new place. Every little thing is new, the colours on flowers, the cooing of birds, the sound of people’s laughter, the taste of water, the less polluted city air (this could actually be shocking), unfamiliar street corners, unrecognizable social rules, never-before-seen hues on the sky above, an unfamiliar chill and then there are the larger things – figuring out menus, train timings, maps, indecipherable accents of a language you thought you knew well. In all this newness, the recognizable things become large, massively exciting – the size of broadsheet newspapers in England is just the same as back home!
I suspect I live in an intense inner world of longing for places unseen, things unheard, stories unread, faces unexplored. This intensity grows by the moment into a monumental longing when I return from my travels – when the things seen come back to mind, stories replay, faces flash right in front of me and conversations continue in my imagination. Who can tell the plight of a traveler dealing with this pounding intensity – only another traveler perhaps.
So I returned from England after the great stories I wrote about here on this blog. Coming home was great, familiarity stops breeding contempt when one steps outside of it and returns to reacquaint in a new way. At home, I was still a traveler, looking at my country, my city with the eyes of a traveler. The vegetable seller in her polyester saree, a string of white little flowers in her hair, the fresh vermillion on her forehead suggesting it’s been no more than an hour since her last long evening bath, the loveliness of the vegetables on her push cart, with agarbatti’s pierced into a potato, are a wonderful sight that I could write a page on in my traveler’s diary, what beauty! The same would simply slip into the monotony of everyday ordinariness if I wasn’t a traveler that just returned home.
I couldn’t sleep without hearing the moos of cows from The Fauld, couldn’t step out of home without recalling London’s great uncertainty of weather, when I sat down to eat my normal regular Indian meals, I could taste Denis’ rock salt and honey in my mouth, the pleasant surprise taste of sea-salt and vinegar still lingered on my tongue.
Is there a cure to this madness of longing? I wondered. I thought hard, for days, tossing in bed at nights until I dared to dream and dared to accept that there is no cure but finding a little bit of comfort is possible – that it is okay to allow myself to think that this is love and love demands no rationality. If the idea of going back to England again with such a sense of urgency makes no sense, then let it not. And like that, in a perfect moment of courage and yielding to a deep desire, I decided I would go back to England again.
So, four months later, back to England – again.