No longer a stranger to myself.

“Book now. Don’t overthink it. Just do it.” My instincts and my mind having an argument and looking back to 3 months ago I am pleased that my instincts won.

13 years ago I phoned my brother over 8000 kilometres away begging him to somehow get me back home. Everything was too much and I had not yet learnt how to adjust to sensory-overload. 2 weeks later and I was standing at the check-in counter in the airport in Mumbai returning home in tears, terrified that I had to leave and might not return. Not fully comprehending anything that I had experienced; felt or seen.
Only now believing that maturity counts. It does not come with age but with learning and understanding. Both lacking so many years ago – not seeing how lucky I was to experience everything I did.

13 years later. No tears (on arrival at least). Every second was to be embraced. Every moment remembered. I had some apprehensions given my memories but armed with my new way of thinking, my 2 novels, my mother and my camera I was ready. Ready to be the sponge. Ready to go with the flow. Determined to allow my love for travelling to continue. And continue it did. “This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles.” 1
Miracles – one of my favourite words to describe life and if we open our minds and hearts as much as our eyes, we have the opportunity to see miracles everyday. I felt every emotion from hysterical joy to painful sadness and accepting that emotions, as any moment in life is temporary, I reveled in both and unattached, allowed it to move on at its own pace.

Opening myself to this contrasting place that India is, made me realise that countries may be modernised, cities growing and changing, but people only change and grow if they want to; not if you want them to. Nor can I grow or change because others want me to. It has to come from that little voice within.
It comes from that moment where perspective is gained; no overthinking, no attachment; just pure realisation that one life is what’s been given and we need to make the most of it. And to make the most of it we need to live in the present moment.
“I now know that nothing he does [people do] will make my life change. My life will change only if I want it to change…Your life belongs to you and you alone.” 2

When the internal noise is given a chance to quieten; when we’ve been kind to ourselves, when we disconnect completely from the outside noise and when we are fully present – this is when perspective is gained. This is when we come to understand and accept what is important. We may always know the answers but it’s not until we believe them does anything matter.
“People come into our lives and they always leave. But what counts is the present. I had chosen to hold the old images hostage. The past was just a series of memories. Why ruin the present for what had been, or what may never be?…Now that I had learnt to see things as they really are, I could see that India was no longer a stranger to me.” 3

1. Adichie CN. Half of a yellow sun. HarperCollins Publishers 2006. Pg 106

2. Adichie CN. Half of a yellow sun. HarperCollins Publishers 2006.. Pg 227

3. Rajesh M. Around India in 80 trains. Nicholas Brealey Publishing 2016. Pg 238

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