When I finished my BA, I got a scholarship for a university in India.
Up to that point, I had lived my life entirely in Europe or the States, so the whole of Asia seemed like one thing- a huge land in the distance, with blurred country boundaries.
Upon hearing I was going to Asia, people around me absolutely flooded me with lists of Don’t-s, especially about the food.I had more things on my lists of what not to try, rather than what I could have.
Was it a mistake I was leaving? Was I going to die because of the heat, or from starvation?
Worrying about the food seems so childish from my perspective now, but back then it was a real serious thing.
So I left, lived in Agra, grew up and came back. This was probably not the spiritual journey some people share they had once they visited India. Or Asia for the first time.
I think mine was years later - on a small beach in Indonesia, not far from Singapore. As I said - I was back home, my friends were the same, I was the same too. Right?
Or maybe not really.
Now I ate rice in stead of bread, had masala tea rather than coffee and my room was covered in buddhist tangka-a.
Explaining how Malaysia is not Indonesia, India is not Pakistan.That people look different and speak differently. Then I realized this can’t go on.
I had to get away. Go back to Asia
After hours on airplanes, busses / almost any transport you can imagine, I was in Singapore.
People. Lights. Tourists. Food and drinks. Voices and shouts coming from all possible corners.
But I wasn’t lost, I was never lost in Asia, despite everything. I was right where I wanted to be.
I walked for hours. Just breathing and trying to take up everything around me, all at once. And remember it, so that I can go back to in my memories later, after I left.
The way I remember everything now, while I write this.
A few days later I left for Indonesia. And as they say- everything from there is history.
I took the ferry early in the morning and by noon I was there.
It was a bit rainy, as it was still August and rain was not a surprise. I went directly to the beach.
I just sat on the sand and watched the water for a while. Looked at boats with fishermen and kids playing around.