When I was a kid, my life revolved around the Famous Five and Enid Blyton. I wanted to be cool, just like those kids. There’s this one book where Julian talks about this guy in his class who became fluent in French ‘cos he spent one whole summer in Paris. I used to dream about the day I could go to Paris. I wanted to pack picnic lunch and take off on a bicycle and sleep on the grass in the middle of some strange village. I wanted to get lost and spend the night in a barn and talk about it the next day, animatedly. I wanted to wanted to stay on a farm and milk the cows. Then the teenage happened, and Amsterdam featured in that list as well. As luck would have it, my closest friend moved to Belgium to study and she said ‘you’ll come there to visit me, right??’ and that’s how we started planning.
I started saving up money and we made tall plans. Or I thought they were just tall plans. The more we spoke about it, I couldn’t wait to go there. We decided to go to just Amsterdam and Paris due to lack of time and vitamin M. Like they say, when it rains, it pours, I got an opportunity to visit Dublin for 3 months on work. Hence started my escapade almost a month back.
For me, this whole journey has been a culmination of teenage fantasies. Now, I’m here in Dublin. Was it all magical? Maybe not in a fairy tale kind of way. But, the whole experience has been liberating. I wanted to pig out on cheese and pasta and French food. But after 1 week of pesto and cheese sandwiches, when I went to an Indian restaurant and had proper sapad, I almost attained Nirvana. I clicked pictures of the aircraft I flew in, couldn’t stop smiling on top of the Eiffel tower, wanted to just not leave when I saw windmills in Amsterdam, wanted to give up eating when I saw the price of food in Paris, fell in love in Madras local trains all over again when I travelled in the Paris metro for 4 days continuously, never wanted to leave the subway train station when I heard people playing the violin, clicked pictures of the tunnel that changed color in the Frankfurt airport at the risk of being a cliched tourist, went to a casino and just stood there grinning at people ‘cos I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how that thing worked, clicked about 800 pics in 7 days, met people I would never have met otherwise, got pissed off when it rained in Paris and Amsterdam, bought shocking orange shoes ‘cos my shoes were soaked in the rain, ventured out one day on my own in Paris with just a metro map and map of the city, walked into random churches, took the stairs up the Eiffel tower, when I thought I was going to die, I figured I had actually reached the top alive, picked up a conversation with an Italian guy who didn’t speak any English and I, obviously don’t speak any Italian, cooked Indian food for 4 strangers, stayed with an amazing Dutch lady in Amsterdam, and I could just go on.
Can I live in Europe? Never, I love my own country just too much to do that. But, will I come back to Europe? I most certainly will. In fact, I have the itinerary for my next trip already planned. There’s something intoxicating about travelling that introduces you to all these things you can’t even imagine and something so humbling that you will have new found respect for your homeland.