Last Word, Slurp?

by Ant Stone on January 4, 2008

in India

Three words. A book. No a movie. A saying! First word. Two syllables. First syllable. Laughing, laugh, pain, illness, funny, clown. Second syllable. Wee, toilet, peeing. Pee, pee? Second word. One syllable. Sounds like. Me, Mum, you. You? You, sounds like you? Third word. Sounds like. Sounds like? Sounds like? Sounds like ear! Ear? Sounds like ear? First word. First syllable. Laughing, belly laugh? Second syllable, pee. Something pee. Happy? Happy! Second word, sounds like, you. Third word, one syllable, sounds like, ear. Happy Too Be Here? Too many words? Oh yeah, three words. Happy To Steer? Happy Flu Tear? Oh oh oh… Happy New Year!

No matter where in the world, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without my mum demanding a game of charades, and this year was no different – other than my parents and I were sat aside a gaggle of friends I’d met along the Trail, wondering who our Secret Santa could of been. This post comes in complete contrast to my last of two thousand and seven, which detailed the final four destinations of our super-tour of the North, this time I have been in just one place. Pondicherry, a former French colony with la petit tinges of le francais still in existence but with India-proper seeping through the streets. Christmas brings such an individual experience for everyone, and to regale it all would somehow defeat the object of a travelogue and such personal times are lovingly kept to myself. The adventurer in me, however, found himself at the helm of a Honda Hero motorbike tearing up the coastal roads of the Tamil Nadu region, learning the way of the horn – honk if you’re overtaking. Honk if you’re turning. Honk if a cow wanders into your path. Honk if a car door opens frightfully close. Or just honk if you’re happy – and so it went, honk, honk, honnnk!

One day the road took me and the gang of six to Auroville, a town with the ideology that humankind can live side by side in perfect harmony. In the words of their founder (affectionately called ‘The Mother’) “There should be somewhere upon earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property, a place where all human beings of goodwill, sincere in their aspiration, could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the Supreme Truth”. I’m yet to form a firm opinion, so it would be foolish to present you with a halfbaked one, suffice to say the place has a genuinely surreal feeling and left me convinced that there’s something supernatural going on around the giant golden sphere (lit by the world’s largest crystal) in the projects centre. The vegetable lasagna was great, though.

What the Trail holds for me this year is anyone’s guess, just a few weeks ago I was planning on a 6 month cycle tour from Delhi to Istanbul. When I changed my mind I fancied flying to South America. I then decided I’d go and live in Laos, for no more reason than it sounds nice. L-ow-ss. L-oww-s-u. La-ow-sa. Laos. It rolls off your tongue like a lollipop, don’t you think. But then Christmas came and when I cleared away the wrapping paper I realised my loving parents had been swapped for my former playmate, Reb and together we found ourselves (along with a man named John) clutching return tickets to a turbulent Sri Lanka where we’ll spend some time dodging bullets on and around the island’s beaches. No mum, not literally, I promise scouts honour, fingers crossed. Two thousand and eight is my oyster, there’s many things I’d like to achieve and my resolutions reflect them – forging a living out of my travelling words is one of them (your advice and opinion is welcome). Campaigning on something I believe in is also there, though finding something suitable is higher. It could be the next England manager, it could be the plight of the Dalit people of India or the struggle of the North Sea cod. I genuinely don’t know, but it’s something I aim to appease for if travelling has taught me anything it is the power of the position I am blessed with compared to those millions less fortunate.

I’ll leave you with another contrast, to neutralise my resolutions. It’s one I woke up to in the early hours and realised I hadn’t allowed to surface. The things, that after 6 months on the road, I miss. Aside from friends and family, I miss the winter day trips down in London. Lounging in the summer sun in Cambridge. I miss the swift midweek pint that turns into eight and a kebab, with chilly sauce and mayonnaise. I miss longing for the weekend, as when travelling there is no such thing. I miss staring through the bird crap on my patio doors at a stubborn paving slab that curiously refused the rain. I miss the peace of the locks on the river Nene, in truth I miss the river. I miss Tuesday night being 5-a-side-football night, and Wednesday morning enhancing my goal tally. I miss my washing machines bright blue display. I miss my Apple Mac. I miss beans on toast and a cuppa in front of lunchtime Neighbours. I miss everyone knowing my name. I miss wishing I were travelling. I miss Teletext. I miss The Independent on Sunday that sat on my coffee table until the following Saturday. I miss power kiting in Hunstanton. I miss cooking too much food and I miss my kitchen knife. I miss Fifa football battles and a Sunday night Chinese. I miss my Blockbuster DVD account. I miss my favorite black shirt. I miss Match of the Day.

So from the sunny shores of Pondicherry, I’ll close the page on the least travel related post this travelogue should ever experience, leave you with a link to my present to the Pondi Gang and wish you all the best this coming year. La-ow-ss, slurp.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacy January 4, 2008 at 6:56 pm

Oooo, Sri Lanka! Hope to hear lots of good stories. (Hopefully?) I’m going to be there for 4 weeks in August.

And trust me… you’re not the only one who has changed minds several times when deciding where and what to do.

It’s also good to know that it’s okay to miss things from back home and that it’s inevitable. And just because someone might miss things while on the road does not mean they want to come home. Right?

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Uncle Eph January 4, 2008 at 10:40 pm

Ant,

Glad you didn’t miss the charades and indeed we were offered the same opportunity at your Aunty Chris’s as part of the tradition but we managed to dodge it well as she doesn’t have the same bullying instincts as my “big” sister.

Anyway sunshine, carry on with your nomadic wanderings and we all wish you well for the New Year etc. Enjoy

Uncle Eph

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Ant January 5, 2008 at 12:18 pm

@ Stacy: Right! If I came home, I’d miss the Indian men using the street as the toilet. I’d miss chai. I’d miss every day being different than the last. I’d miss everyone not knowing my name. I’d miss the sunshine. I’d miss not understanding a word of any local conversation. I’d miss doing my laundry in the shower. I’d miss waking up and not knowing what to do. I’d miss writing a travel blog! I’ll let you know how Sri Lanka is, it sounds amazing so I’m getting my hopes up really high!

@ Uncle Eph: We had charades, scrabble, 9-Card brag, Balderdash… even a Christmas stocking! You name it, Mum had it covered and then some! All the best to you and yours for 2008, Eph :)

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