Building a day and Indian train journey's
I’m a little over 20 days into my journey here in India. It is a trip that blends some personal exploration with business development; sourcing, designing and rummaging through dusty markets. It all sounds very romantic until you realize that those markets are really dusty, you don’t always find the quality you’re looking for, you’re often hot and sticky…and dusty and by the end of the day the Indian traders will have worn you down with their incessant need for your money.
It’s not for everybody, but it’s for me. I love the chaos this country runs on. I love the inconsistencies and the irregularities and the blatant disregard for order. I love it because it feels like being inside my mind! Actually.
However, there is a kind of method to the madness. I don't know what the method is but, If you’re a creative person who feels more comfortable making decisions with your intuition rather than logic then India will feel ok to you. I think. I know the slogan to promote this county is 'Incredible India' but the national mantra is ‘Anything is possible’. This seems totally true in this country.
I landed in Goa at 3:30am and took a pre-paid taxi 90 minutes north to a town called Arambol. It’s where I’ve come for the past four years. This year, however, I had arranged to spend my time with my dear friends at The Mandala resort in Mandrem, only 15minutes away and a more relaxed area. I couldn’t check in until later in the afternoon so I booked a bamboo hut at another friends hut village called Basho and got a few hours sleep before waking to the call of sunrise and the familiar sounds the of the ocean.
Familiarity becomes a commodity in the life of a traveler. It's something you crave at times but can be so rare as you move from place to place. Each year I arrive, my first morning reminds me of the last time I was here and I piece the landscape together with one sound, one sight and one greeting at a time. I wake to the sounds of dogs barking, people chanting, the sea booming as the waves come crashing in. Ah! I am in India. I step outside my hut and am greeted by familiar friends “Welcome my friend. How long you are here?” ( I didn't write that in the wrong order, that's really how they ask me). I look out to the shore and watch the cows lazily walk by, and the beach sellers gathering their days inventory and draping the heavy loads over their arms, or the basket of coconuts on their head.
Normally I would order a Chai and a papaya salad and take a seat overlooking the sea with my notebook and pen. I would try and write with abandon but the scenes on the beach, as the morning unfolds, will distract me too much. I’ll put my pen down and daydream. This morning, however, I was headed to one of my favorite little café’s; The Dreamland Café. It’s where all the musicians and renegades and social misfits come to hang. I needed to ground myself with a good coffee and some conversation.
Each year I meet new people through old friends, I become better friends with the people I was introduced to last year and I am introduced to new places to eat, dance and hang out. I am also given a web of helpful information for business since I tend to run in entrepreneurial and creative circles. And so, just like anything we achieve, Love Nomadic is built piece by piece. Each day becomes a set of familiar faces and places that connect together and build upon my experience here, as I hunt and gather suppliers, materials and ideas.
Now, however, I am writing this from the offices of my manufacturer in Kerala. Three nights ago I boarded a late night train to Kannur and woke up to the sun rising over the palm trees as I sped by on the train.
Train journey’s here in India are a quintessential cultural experience. Trains are at the heart of trade and commerce and skillfully connect the country from the north to the south and the east to the west. They are cheap and fast, but often late. Also, they are full of the kindest, weirdest and the shadiest people in this country. My journey was tame when it came to the weird and uncomfortable, compared to other times. This time it was just a staring bunk neighbor. Every time I turned over it I felt a weird energy and it turned out to be the neighbor in the bunk opposite was wide awake and staring right at me. Like had had been doing it all night! Not creepy at all!
As the sun rose, I peeked out my window to an almost full moon still suspended in the sky. I could hear the Chai Walla coming down the dark aisles yelling ‘chai, chai, chai, chai, chai, chai’ with the same cadence as a young child yelling ‘mum, mum, mum, mum’ trying to get her attention. He got my attention and after he poured that hot, milky, sugary deliciousness into my little cup, I stood in the doorway of the train – always wide open – and watched the sun rise over the palm trees and banana leaves and misty rivers. I leaned out of the train, holding the railing and felt the wind in my hair.
Another day, another journey, and another moment I am alive and grateful for it all.