Life after Auroville

Too much happened in the months after Auroville. As mentioned in my previous post, I had reached a point where even thinking about anymore travels was making physically and mentally exhausted. I needed a place where I could settle down temporarily. So the plan when I left Auroville was to head back to my folks’ in Pune, pack my backpack and come straight to Australia but as life would have it I ended up retracing my steps around the globe.

Before I settled down anywhere (I knew it wasn’t going to be in Europe just yet) I wanted to spend time with my sister in Germany so that was my first stop. In the month that I was there, I spent time trying to get used to not being in Asia, getting used to the cold after being in tropical climate for a year, getting over the jet lag and getting used to the German language again which started to seem rude and curt after having spent so much time away. I couldn’t make it to London to see my friends or to Munich for that matter (which was just 45mins away) as I was seriously rationing my travels and trying not to over burden my travel-fatigued body.

From Germany, I went to the US to spend a few months with somebody who I thought was interesting. It became obvious after the very first weekend that it was going to be a waste of my time and that sadly he was not up to my standards so I (quite literally) made a run for it and decided, despite being traveled out, to visit some friends and family that I very much wanted to see. I spent a week in NYC with some of my dearest friends, Akshay and Anne, with whom it is like being home. And NYC itself is beginning to grow on me!

With Anuja, a friend from high school, whom I bump into every 6 years in different cities around the world!
With Anuja, a friend from high school, whom I bump into every 6 years in different cities around the world!

From New York, my cousin, whom I hadn’t seen for 3 years, and I drove to Columbus where he lives with his family. I spent a week with them, just chilling and eating way too much food (although my cousin disagrees as I don’t eat half as much as I used to back when we still lived in India). While in Columbus I also met Ryan whom I never thought I’d see again after we first met in Portugal 2 years ago!! Seeing him was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

With my favourite niece and sis-in-law in Columbus
With my favourite niece and sis-in-law in Columbus

After that it was a week with Vivek in, what is now one of my favourite cities, Washington D.C. I luuuuved DC. The architecture, the young student/professional crowd, the suburban neighbourhoods, the history, museums, restaurants and café was basically everything I could ask for in a city. Ok, so DC doesn’t have a beach close by but it has a river which I love for those long solitary walks/bike rides. I’d go as far as to say that I would want to live in DC, even if it’s just for a few months.

Lincoln Memorial at twiight
Lincoln Memorial at twilight
Washington monument at sunset
Washington monument at sunset
Washington memorial and Thomas Jefferson memorial
A view of Washington monument and Jefferson memorial captured during a bike ride along the river

Long story short, US was one hell of a trip! After a quick stop back in NY it was time to (finally) head to Australia and I was nervous! I had one person I counted as a friend, couple of other acquaintances, a very low bank balance, a traveled out body, a 33hr hour journey and a 14hr time difference and resulting jet lag to look forward to. I knew my body needed rest, I knew my mind needed rest from constantly thinking about “where to next”. I was craving for the known, for a 9 to 5 life that I so needed a break from 18months ago.

As I write, it’s been a little over a month since I arrived in Melbourne and I am pretty sure this is where I want to live for the next year or so. It’s not been easy coming to this decision. I haven’t lived in one place for longer than 1.5 years since 2008. I have moved house 10 times in the 7years I was in the UK. And now I’ve been traveling for the last 18months. It’s almost as if I have forgotten how to put down roots anywhere. The feeling of knowing (or assuming) I’ll have to move again soon makes me wary of committing to live anywhere for too long (too long being longer than a couple of months). Or perhaps I’m just spoilt for choice and I want to keep my options open. But after all that uncertainty I’m finally beginning to be sure that I’ll stay out this year in Melbourne.

Melbourne is not a city I would call beautiful, especially after having traveled around Europe quite a bit. But something I wasn’t aware of was that people come to Melbourne for food and culture and these are the top 2 reasons I undertake any travel! From what I’ve seen so far, Melbourne is like a smaller version of London, with a much better pace of life, with better weather, a beach close by, countless cafes and restaurants, a big street food and coffee culture, and such friendly people. I couldn’t have chosen a better city to live in! Fingers crossed that I find a good job so I can stick to my decision of living here!

All my bags are packed…I’m ready to go

I am glad I chose to start and end my trip in Boston. I love it here and can totally see myself living here. In fact, the only reason Boston is second to Barcelona (for places I’d like to live in) is because it’s in America and not Europe. But the vibe of the city, the beautiful Charles river and the long walking trails around it, the Harvard Square, the suburban looking houses and the relaxed pace of life here have won my heart.

I spent my last week here in a very non-touristy way. I left my camera at home, went for long walks along the river and in the city and tried to memorize as much of this amazing city as I could, went to the cinema and just enjoyed being here and feeling grateful that I got the opportunity to see Boston.
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More museums and more food

I don’t think I could live in Canada, atleast not in the winters. I usually get headaches at the drop of a hat and the cold and wind here is just making it worse for me. So to avoid more pain than needed, and because I enjoy it, I’ve been going to museums the past couple of days.

The first one I went to was the ROM which is the Royal Ontario museum. This is a museum of world cultures and natural history. It is one of the largest in North America with more than 40 galleries and 6 million items ranging from art from Africa to Asia, displays and artefacts showing the history and journey of Greek and Roman kingdoms over a few 100 to 1000 years, minerals, gemstones and meteorites and the worlds largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale (which is the worlds most celebrated fossil field).
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Just got back from spending time 2 days with a school friend of mine. Aside from the people I’ve grown up with, I’ve been friends with her the longest, 17years! Over that time we’ve been to school together, been to the same university (but different disciplines), moved to different countries, met up in the UK, in India and now again in Canada. Somehow, wherever we are, we’ve managed to keep in touch and meet at least every 3years.


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Home Alone

Around 5 days have passed since Niagara Falls and this is the laziest I’ve been since I’ve come to the US! It’s a combination of being tired after NY, it being cold outside and my cousin’s gorgeous house that has made me stay indoors.

The first time I entered the house, when all I could see was the living room, the family room and a bit of the kitchen, I fell in love with this place. The cream coloured walls, the soft brown/beige furnishings and the beautiful dark brown wooden floors makes this place so very warm and welcoming. It’s a massive house, set on 3 floors and for my stay here I’ve got my own bedroom and bathroom…nice! What struck me the most are the wooden floors though. Usually, I hate walking bare feet coz my feet get really dry (and dirty) but walking on wooden floors is so awesome that I’ve ditched the flip flops for now!

So the past few days I’ve had a lot of me-time (whoop whoop!) which I’ve spent on cooking and reading and then watching movies with my cousin and sis-in-law in the evening! I have offered them a deal; they can hire me as their personal cook in return for letting me live here! Their decision awaits…

Niagara Falls!

My cousin decided that we should visit the Niagara Falls the day after I reached Canada because the weather was going to be good, max of 2 degrees Celsius. Ha!

So off we went the next day. It was a 1.5hr drive to the falls and we used this time to catch up on how life has turned out for us.I was seeing my cousin after 8 years and I had never met my sister in law before. My cousin and I were very close while growing up. Our families have taken few trips together of which we still have very fond memories. Over the years we sort of lost touch (I can be so bad at keeping in touch with people) but it seems like the bond we shared while growing up was strong enough to withstand the 8year gap. When we met this time it was like we were simply picking up from where we left off. So during the drive we talked of all the silly stuff we did as kids, what we’ve been up to after we left school and after we left India. I also used this time to get to know my sis-in-law.
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Flying to Toronto

So my journey into Canada was a bit of a weird one. It was only 1hr 45mins on the flight from NY but somehow, by the end of it, I was absolutely knackered.

The oddities started the night before. While trying to check in online, the AirCanada website was telling me that the airport I was flying out from (and had planned the route for) was now changed. Instead of JFK I was now flying out of LaGuardia! I remembered receiving an updated itinerary from AirCanada a while back but it had contained the same information as when I had first booked the flight and back then I had thought it was an erroneous email. I dug the email out and I was right, the original and updated itineraries were the same.

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Not quite good-bye

The first few days in NYC felt like the city was pumping energy into me! I was out everyday and there was a lot of sight-seeing and really long walks. Now this is what tourists usually do but based on how I spent my time in Boston I was amazed at how much I did.  Fast forward a few days and I started to feel a bit drained.

In my last few days, I didn’t do much touristy stuff except walk the Brooklyn bridge with my friends and take loads of pictures (finally got some with myself in them. Woohoo!)

Click to see pics

Touring NYC – WTC, China Town, Little Italy

So my friend’s girlfriend, who feels equally like a friend to me now, took a day off to show me around and I was really excited at having a girl’s day out.

I was ready to go with her flow as she knows NYC REALLY well. We started with ground zero which has another building in place of the twin towers and a memorial structure that’s under construction, nothing much to look at to be honest. The twin towers were a wonder when they existed and their non-existence is a wonder in itself. People go to the site to see and take pictures of what “should have been”.
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