An inadvertent traveller:
Whenever people would ask “tell me an interesting fact about yourself”, the best I could come up with was that I’ve lived in 12 cities, 6 countries, 4 continents, and held 3 passports. I was a traveller before I knew what travel was.
Born in India, raised in Zimbabwe, dabbled in England, a citizen of New Zealand, a tax resident of Australia, I’ve now come full circle and am re-discovering the country of my birth, the insane, confronting, invigorating and incredibly diverse India (please don’t ask which cricket team I support!)
Africa, the early years:
When I was a little over one, we left India and headed for cannibalistic lands of Africa, or at least that’s what my grandparents thought, and urged my mum and dad not to go. Luckily for me, my folks took their chances. Two years later, having survived six burglaries, and not encountered any cannibals, we left Zambia and arrived unscathed into a recently independent Zimbabwe, probably the best African country to be in at the time – excellent infrastructure, economy, education, health system – want for nothing. From Zimbabwean soil, wind and water, I grew from a snotty toddler into a semi-respectable adult (depending on who you ask), spending twenty wonderful years there, taking for granting the simple, wholesome, carefree life. Then is broke down completely, socially and economically.
Little did I know that the day would come when I’d throw away everything I owned, diaries, dolls, love letters, and other cherished possessions, and leave my home (a word that’s true meaning still eludes me) with nothing but a 20kg suitcase full of clothes, and some US$100 bills hidden in toothpaste tubes, and a little day bag (which has accompanied me on all my travels), to start life anew yet again, this time in a country 12,500kms away, of which all I knew was that it had (and still does!) a hot looking rugby team, and a heck of a lot of sheep.
New Zealand, Aotearoa:
New Zealand couldn’t be more different. Lush greenery, turquoise ocean, big people (Maoris) with incomprehensible accents, wooden houses, unpredictable weather, and the only native mammal a bat.
Zimbabwe is where I became and adult, but New Zealand is where I grew up. With very little money and no support from mum and dad (who had their own problems to contend with), I learnt to be responsible and adaptable. My two sisters got jobs and put me through my final studies. I got a job, a New Zealand passport, and before long I was “Aye Bro-ing” my way to the bright lights of London.
London, sunny blighty:
London, taught me a great many things. Some of the more useful skills were acquired there such as navigating tricky metro systems, drinking beer, and most importantly, travel. I loved the fact that before the sun had set, one could be in a completely different world. So much to see, and I was ready to start exploring! One day snails in Paris, one day Merguez sausages in Marrakesh, art galleries or old bazaars, museums or vineyards.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and so with the expiry of my visa, I returned to Auckland, New Zealand. I felt like I’d jumped off a fast moving treadmill. I used this down time to acquire more useful skills such as windsurfing and coffee drinking. I also became an aunt (almost an ex aunt when I made the mistake of saying he wasn’t as cute as everyone thought). But even the brilliant flat whites, and my now cute nephew couldn’t keep me there, and as soon I was “G’day Mite”-ing my way to Sydney.
I pitched camp bout 100m from the iconic harbour bridge. Just as London had been my springboard to Europe and Northern Africa, Australia saw me exploring South East Asia, Slings in Singapore, Sashimi in Japan, jungles of Borneo, to claustrophobic tunnels in Vietnam, bicycles, fish sauces, rice paddies, buffalos and bullet trains. In between travel, I was wining and dining with lovely friends, jogging, yoga-ing, or relaxing on a picturesque beach.
Three years in, my carefree days of Zimbabwe, and my lean days of New Zealand distant memory, my accent severely and irrevocably mixed up, and when people ask where I am from, there is no easy answer. One day, as I was sitting in my lounge, gazing at the stunningly beautiful Sydney cityscape, I found myself wondering if I could see myself growing old here, is this home I mused. I missed the chaos, the unpredictability, the smiles, the ability to chat to anyone, the living in the moment, the chaos. the third world really.
So once again I decided to pack my bag and follow the road. I have come full circle, back to the motherland, Incredible India. I am working as a volunteer at an animal shelter, and simultaneously pursuing another hobby of mine – travel 😉
Some old and new tales posted here.