A new beginning…or is it?

It’s been around 4 months since my last post. I haven’t been slacking on updating my blog, it’s just that I have been taking a break from traveling and frankly I just didn’t feel like writing. I am here to fill in the gaps before writing about my next travels.

When I started backpacking in April 2015 I felt like I could keep traveling forever, it felt so natural at that time. But after 6 brilliant months on the road I felt the need to stop. I’ve spent the last 4 months with my parents in Pune (India). It is the longest I’ve been with them in 8 years and I am glad I got the chance to stay with them longer than the usual 2 weeks a year. It’s also the longest I’ve lived in one place in the last year and a half.

These 4 months have been the exact opposite of my backpacking days. Sleeping in the same bed night after night, the promise of a decent shower, waking up to the same faces, eating home cooked food everyday, not having to figure out how to get from A to B, not answering (or asking) the same Qs about “where are you from? What do you do? How long are you traveling for? etc.” has been fabulous. I’ve also been studying a lot and going for swimming and tennis classes, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I also visited Hyderabad and Goa to see friends I haven’t met for years or one’s I met during my travels. My sister visited us from Germany so there was a lot of family time and a brilliant trip to Goa (second one for me) which included going for drives, eating delicious food, long walks on the beach and then just chilling for a few hours in one of the beach shacks.

But it’s time to move on again. I am not ready to go back to work (at least not full-time) just yet and I’ve been lucky to have spent close to 9 months with friends and family around the globe which meant my money has lasted much longer than I anticipated. I don’t feel like backpacking or taking a trip with the sole intention of sight-seeing/photography either. I feel the need to travel slower, be in one place for a few months, find something meaningful to do (and not just something that will get me free food and accommodation) and then move to the next place.

When I left London in 2014, it felt like I was leaving to “do” something different and that when it’s done I’ll settle down in Germany to live close to my sister. But the 15 months of nomadic living has shifted something in me. Like this journey is no longer about what I do but who I am. I knew this break from “work eat sleep” cycle would change me but I felt I would still go back to the same lifestyle, just as a different person. I don’t see that happening anymore, at least not for the next couple of years.

My life has never been black and white, there’s always been a (massive) gray area and now it feels like the degree of uncertainty has just gone up a levels. It makes me nervous to think of where I will end up but when I think about what I am doing “NOW” I feel extremely calm. There’s nothing I would do differently. So I guess all I have to do is live in the present and be true to myself, which was the whole point of my travels anyways.

This sabbatical was meant to end in a year but 15 months later it feels like the journey has only just begun.

Snowball effect of flight check-in bag

I am flying back to London this weekend to get my OCI card. OCI stands for Overseas Citizen of India. Since I am now a British national, I’ve had to surrender my Indian passport (as India does not allow dual citizenship) and in return I get an OCI card which is like a life-long visa to enter motherland. It gives me the same privileges as an Indian citizen except that I cannot vote or own agricultural land, neither of which I am fussed about it.

My plan now is to go to London, collect my OCI card, back to Germany, then to India and then SE Asia. For the last 2-3 months I’ve mostly carried around stuff for cold weather but when I go back to London this time I need to bring back some stuff, that I have stored at my friends place, for hot weather for when I go to India/SE Asia. I asked myself a simple Q; do I need a check in bag while coming back to Germany? This got me thinking; while going to London, I’ll have a cabin bag + a big purse which will contain some clothes to wear in London. So will I have enough space to bring back my summer clothes and “any other things” from London? I know what clothes I need in India but what will I need in SE Asia? My guess was shorts and tank tops, end of, but let’s ask Mr Google. After reading a LOT of blogs, I found most of them advising to wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders when out and about. And here I was thinking teeny-tiny clothes will be enough! This made me realize that I haven’t given planning for my trip much thought!
And wait, what about stuff besides clothes, like toiletries for eg. Ok, let’s make a list. Face cream, body lotion, face masks, hair masks, manuka honey, aloe, face oils, aromatherapy oils, organic shampoos… Errrmmm. Seems a *bit* too much. But the list is not even complete yet! One thing about me is that I love my skin care and hair care routine and most of what I use is natural and organic and there are some things I can cannot shall not travel without! Surely I can buy these things in SE Asia or should I buy all of this from London? So I started looking up what I can buy while in SE Asia and what I should bring with me. This research brought up stuff like how I should carry razors, sun creams, some female hygiene “stuff” and a lot of other things that are very difficult to find! Oh dear, panic setting in.

Hold on, I also need to buy a backpack! But if I don’t know what I can/should take carry with me then how do I decide what size backpack I need?!?! And I’m only going to carry a backpack and a small day pack. No way am I carrying more than this coz I did that in USA/Canada and man, how I hated packing repacking every few weeks! My solution to that dilemma was to carry less in the first place.

So before I leave for London this weekend I must decide what I am carrying to SE Asia, which means planning for may be a 6 months (or 8 months or 12months, god alone knows!) trip in only 3 days. That will then help me decide how big a backpack I need and that will help me decide if I can fit all my backpacking stuff in my cabin bag while coming back from London or if need a check in bag! Oh wait, I think I lost sight of how this all started. Let’s backtrack. Do I need a check in bag while flying back from London to Germany? Sure. It’ll cost me just 15quid and that way I can have 3 months to properly plan my SE Asia adventure!! Ha, easy-peasy!