As you read this, I’m probably touching down in my first port of call. From the Backpackers Mecca of Bangkok, I begin my epic gap year.
I have swapped my Blackberry for a backpack to take off on the trip of a lifetime. For the next one year I’m going to see the world and share its stories and hopefully rewrite my own along the way.
So this is my plan. ‘Spend a year in search of adventure and inspiration’.
I have quit my job, I’m selling all my stuff and I’m taking off. My little project is called The 100 Heroes Project and I’m going to travel to every place I ever wanted to visit and I’m going to meet some amazing people once I get there.
We’re all expert planners. But it’s the ‘doing’ that’s usually the death of many great ideas. We’re often too quick in concluding that ‘it’s just too hard and it’s probably best if I stick to my day-job and be a responsible tax-payer’. But… the path of least resistance is also the path of least rewards.
It’s tiring to have your intent questioned repeatedly; this is my (by now) well-rehearsed response…
“I’m doing this, because I can and I want to. I’m not married because I’m not ready yet. I have some money but I’m sure I’ll manage. I’m searching for a 100 real role models because God knows we’re running a tad short. Yes, there will be many Indian people featured in my project. I’ll meet them once I’m done with the first leg of my trip and start working on the second set of visas. Speaking of which… I’d really appreciate it if you could stamp my passport already”.
I swung from feeling jubilant and empowered by my decision to feeling lost. But, in the fleeting moments when I wasn’t feeling bipolar, I felt free.
In the past few months I’ve realised that as an Indian citizen, if you’re un-tethered to an establishment, you’re either a threat or completely avoidable.
But, I’ve also learnt that you can shock and awe anyone if you walk in with enough conviction in your idea. If you are unapologetic about your grand plan, people start believing that you’re on to something!
And the learning continues everyday. Apparently, that ‘there are no heroes in China’; or so the Chinese consulate would have me believe, when they rejected my visa. There are no concerned environmentalists or passionate human rights activists and the only hero is General Mao. The economic crisis in Europe means that I can afford to stay in better hostels. I’ve come to believe that banks and phone companies take good people and turn them into lying, conniving call centre employees.
I’ve finally learnt the importance of money. Not for the security that hoarding cash brings, but the freedom it gives you, to act on a compelling impulse.
Your family is your biggest ally. Despite the fact that you’ve given them too many reasons to believe you’re an imbecile, they’ll still be the ones egging you on to be more. My folks are very well travelled people with over 35 countries covered between them. Ten thousand miles travelled are better than ten thousand books, says dad.
My mom’s paranoia is palpable. Not about my inability to conform but about her daughter being alone and unassisted those same ten thousand miles from home! I’ve promised to call her every day. I will certainly try.
And I’m still learning the fine art of having the audacity to create opportunities, rather than wait for them. Though up till recently, I’d relinquished that right to another person. I don’t know who this person is; but this faceless entity seemed to be braver and smarter than me, definitely more motivated and possibly more deserving. This is the person I want to be when I return.
All that I’m worth right now reflects in my spartan bank statement. But there’s so much more to me. Join me as I spend a year trying to convince myself that I am a fearless traveller. An audacious explorer of this beautiful Blue Planet. The daydreaming deviant who finally got her act together.
Tithiya Sharma is on a year-long journey across the globe to find 100 everyday heroes — and hopefully herself — along the way. For more on Tithiya's adventure log on to http://100heroesproject.com.