It feels like yesterday when I was hiking up the moonscapes of Qeshm Island in Iran at sunset. Or falling off the map on a motorcycle adventure in the remote tribal Chin state of Myanmar. Or feeling awe-inspired at the electric ‘ghetto sessions’ in Khayelitsha, one of South Africa‘s largest townships.
When I look back at my life of long term travel, there is one thing in common. It all feels surreal.
And in a very different way, that’s my dominant feeling during this pandemic too!
Also read: Four Years of Travelling Without a Home
Since this strange period of our lives began, many of you have reached out to me, curious about what it’s been like to hang up my travel boots indefinitely. After nearly seven years of long term travel and living out of two bags, what’s it like to chain myself to one place for the foreseeable future?
In this post, I try to lay bare my heart, reflecting on this time of shock, struggle, acceptance, disappointment, anger, gratitude and hope.
Back in 2013, I gave up my rented apartment and sold most of my belongings. In the years since, I’ve felt at home in many places around the world but not put down roots anywhere.
Having no possessions and no commitment to a single place felt liberating on many levels… until I found myself in lockdown!
As luck would have it, an unexpected turn of events made me abandon a multi-day trek from tribal Chhattisgarh to Madhya Pradesh. I ended up taking a flight to Dehradun to see my folks for a few days, and figure out where I could slow travel next to hide out the brewing coronavirus fears.
In those few days, my universe, like that of many others, overturned. WHO declared it a pandemic, India went into a stringent lockdown, state and international borders shut down indefinitely. Suddenly, I had nowhere to go.
That few days visit turned into 3 months. And in retrospect, I’m so glad I got to spend that quality time with my folks – something I haven’t done since I moved out for college at seventeen! Unfortunately though, my partner was stranded in a different part of the world during the lockdown. Perhaps because the geographical separation wasn’t out of choice this time, it stung pretty bad.
When domestic movement gradually resumed, we went through a ton of passes and paperwork, Covid tests and institutional quarantine. And took a leap of faith to move to a small Goan village for the foreseeable future.
We now call an old trading shop turned studio “home”, own a kayak and a small oven, and wake up to hornbill and peacock cries!