Sod’s Law

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I always turn up way too early for the plane and end up sitting around for hours in the departure lounge, which I totally don’t mind because I’ll have a good book and do some people watching, plus getting there early = no stress. I decided to make an exception to my usual rule last weekend though and leave much later than I would usually have done so I could get some extra sleep the night before.

So I wake up, turn off my alarm, feel surprisingly awake, get dressed, grab bag, stand outside, wait for the cab I ordered, and wait, and wait, what’s the time he should be here by now, half an hour of fruitless phone calls, really have to get going now, run to main road, flag down a tuk tuk to take me to the nearest taxi stand (about 5 miles), leap out of tuk tuk into first cab I see, argue briefly over price with both and we’re away, phew thank god it must be getting really late, go to look at my phone to see just how late

my phone. oh shit.

It’s still in the tuk tuk. Turn the taxi around, drive back to taxi stand, tuk tuk no longer there, talk to other taxi drivers, try calling, no answer, leave my address with taxi drivers in case it turns up, one last quick drive round to look for the autowallah, no luck, by this time it’s seriously late, biting lip the whole way to airport, leap out of taxi, run to doors, and of course I’ve forgotten in India you can’t get into the airport building unless you have a ticket, but guess where mine was, yup on my phone, ‘sorry m’am you can’t come in without a ticket’, run to ticket office at side of building, big queue, push in front (sorry guys), print out my ticket, back to the entrance, finally in, get to check in, ahhhhhh there’s like a million people here, run up to flight attendant who ushers me to the front and checks me in, race through security feeling super important (‘excuse me, that’s my flight they’re announcing, coming through’) race to the gate and YESSSSS I’VE FREAKIN MADE IT. Minus phone, oh well.

What intrigues me is that these sort of days seem to be an ongoing series of unfortunate events: there is never just one problem, one setback: everything that can go wrong, will. It often gets me thinking about karmic responsibility, about whether or not my past and future actions have some sort of influence on my present situation. Not necessarily in a spiritual way, I’m fairly cynical on that front, but logically: my adventure to the airport may have been made a hundred times easier if I had just planned to leave half an hour earlier. Of course, if I had left half an hour earlier, you could have pretty much guaranteed the taxi would have turned up and I’d have been spot on time, left hanging around for two hours to get on an hour-long domestic flight.

This is an excellent example of Sod’s law: If something can go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible time.

Sod’s law often rears its ugly head while I am travelling, however I would be lying if I didn’t say that every once in a while it becomes counterbalanced by its equal and opposite force, good luck (like when a hotel has accidentally reassigned your room so you are forced to move to a much nicer room at the same price, on the way to which a god-like creature crashes into you and as a token of forgiveness insists on taking you out for dinner).

So, has anyone else encountered Sod’s law when travelling or elsewhere? Or its nemesis, Good luck? Are they products of the Universe or of our actions? Would love to hear thoughts in the comments.

Primate poem

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Wise old monkey,

Little did I know

That while you posed so beautifully, dainty fingers holding toes

Your mate was on the balcony

Stealing all my clothes.

‘Table for One, Please’

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Yes, travelling alone can be awesome. A lot of people (mostly white guys with dreadlocks) rave about it: ‘Man it’s sooo amazing, I’ve truly found myself, I just go with the flow, wherever the river takes me I follow etc etc…’  These are the kind of people who will hold court in a hostel all night, complaining about how touristy it all is, how they just came from/heard about/are going somewhere like, way better, so much more secluded, not a tourist for miles, where the locals will accept you as one of their own,  where you become free of the constraints of Western mentality and clothes, eventually becoming so much a part of everything that you will put down roots and turn into a tree living only off sunlight and good vibes. The appropriate, though too-little-used, response to these people is: ‘dude, if it’s so fantastic, we are begging you, just go there already and leave the rest of us to enjoy our touristy shithole’.

The reason why these guys tend to grate so much is that they are totally, irrevocably, head-over-heels in love with themselves. To them, travelling is not so much about the physical journey, but more about how deeply they can burrow into their own perfect (to them) consciousness; every day becomes about discovering a new, crystalline facet of their own unique and beautiful personality. If it sounds like I’m bitter, that’s because I am.

I am pretty much the exact opposite of these people. When I travel alone, I see myself not as the epitome of human consciousness, but more like this cow: awkward, out of place and faintly ridiculous. Even if I don’t have my supersize backpack on, I always feel like I am just somehow constantly in everyone’s way. Being a fairly tall girl means I get stared at quite a lot in places where the average height is about a head shorter than me, which just makes me feel even more like a great gangling goosegoggy tourist.

On top of this, what nobody mentions about travelling alone is just how much time you have to spend in your own company. Sometimes, when you’ve got a half hour to kill in a train station and a good book, it’s great. You get some alone time, you appreciate your surroundings, people watch, whatever. It’s when you’ve been travelling without contact with anyone for hours or even days that the going gets really tough, especially in a place where you don’t speak the language. I mean, I always learn as much as I can to get by, but ‘Hello how are you the weather is nice today’ doesn’t satisfy your aching desire for human companionship for very long.

The worst is when you do something really stupid, like down a cup of super-hot chai because you’re in a rush (never again) and then have to sit and endure the excruciating pain for the whole of a six hour bus journey while people look at you weird because you’re blowing your cheeks out trying to hold mouthfuls of water for as long as possible in your mouth before swallowing them in the hope that the liquid will help stem the fiery tendrils of agony spreading from your tongue and throat. And there is no one there to sympathise or even laugh at you, and you are alone in your ridiculousness.

I guess what I’m getting at is that sometimes, it’s just really nice to have someone to complain to.

 

 

 

 

Anti-travelling

I turn 24 tomorrow. I’ve always hated my birthdays, and this one will be no different. Many, in fact probably most, people would say I’m ungrateful. I’m in India at the moment, working for a small NGO operating in and around Delhi. If your response is ‘Wow, that must be amazing!‘, you’re one of those guys I meet everywhere, nod meaningfully at with a vague, knowing smile and say, ‘yeah, yeah it is…’ before quickly changing the subject.

But I’m fed up of telling people how amazing things are. I’ve travelled quite a bit now, and I feel like I’ve used up all available vocabulary to carry on describing what a fantastic experience travelling is. I want to tell them all about the shitty bits, the stomach upsets, the ever-present doubts and questions, I want to admit to someone that I’m lonely and depressed, but I’m either too much of a pussy or too clinically insane to be an adult and tell that to someone’s face. So instead I’m writing a blog.

Therefore, without much further ado, I would like to welcome you to Delhi and Beyond, part anti-travel blog, part insight into the mind of an ungrateful, British, almost-mid-twenties-wannabe-artist girl with vague, undiagnosed mental health issues and itchy feet.

‘What is an anti-travel blog?’, I hear you cry!

Well, I’m not sure what the exact definition of anti-travel is, but when I first started Delhi and Beyond my goal was to write a travel blog documenting my time spent in India, my experiences, etc etc. However, when I started to actually post things, everything just seemed somehow hollow and insincere. I’d try to describe a village, and it came out sounding like a bad 1950s travel brochure for the more adventurous young jet-setter:

‘Today we were taken on a tour of the village, where life remains traditional for the most part, although the villagers were keen to show us the modern amenities they did have, such as this recently acquired (and excellent-looking) tractor:’

I mean, seriously.

So, after thinking long and hard, I decided to attempt another, very much more subjective, but also much more honest, angle. It just so happens that for me honest and subjective equals cynical and self-derisory, which I reckon is pretty much the opposite of most happy-go-lucky, wow-its-so-amazing, look-at-me-I’m-so-spontaneous travel blogs you’ll find. Hence the term anti-travel.

I’m not dissing other travel blogs, by the way, I’m just saying it’s not my thing. I spend so much time pretending to be cheerful that I feel like this blog is the only way I can let rip my true feelings (apologies for the cliché).

So there you have it, welcome to a blog of depressing but honest travel stories, essays, photos and whatever else I happen to blurt onto the internet.

Enjoy!

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