When The Road Gets Tough…

I’m going to hold my hands up to the fact that I’m a little guilty of sugar-coating my travels. Not so much on this blog, because I’d like to think I don’t hide anything from you guys, but on my personal Facebook and Instagram, I do a fairly good job of making it seem like everything I’m doing is exciting and cool and indie and making my friends jealous, and pretty much presenting a rose-filtered version of reality. Nobody wants to hear moaning on Facebook, right?

But I won’t lie, there are times when it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Yesterday, I had to go and sit in Starbucks for a while just because of the familiarity – label whore much – when it all got a bit much.

I’m not really one for getting lonely, but I just felt quite overwhelmed all of a sudden. I like my own company, but sometimes it’s nice to have people to talk to, to have someone else to hold the camera and tell your stories too. I was lucky enough to meet a couple of other English girls on the train back from Agra the other day, but they left the next morning, heading to Bangkok. And my hostel isn’t particularly conducive to meeting other people.

I’m not really uncomfortable in India. And as for Delhi being quite different to where I was before, I feel like it’s one of those places which some people love and others absolutely loathe. For my part, I’ve really taken to it. I love the contrasts of New and Old Delhi. I love that you can turn the corner from a busy shopping street in Old Delhi and come face-to-face with a beautiful old mosque or fort. I love the wide avenues and parks of New Delhi. However, I won’t deny that the place has its drawbacks.

Earlier in the day, I’d been minding my own business, walking down a main road in New Delhi, in the middle of the day with plenty of people around, when a random guy walking past with his mates just thought it would be hilarious to squeeze my ass as he walked past me. Naturally, I was outraged and anyone who knows me can predict that the earful I gave him was the kind accompanied by steam coming from nostrils and involved the kind of language my parents would be ashamed of me using in public.

I kind of felt I was justified though. The guys laughed and carried on their way, and probably forgot all about me within five minutes. But I kept walking down the road, seething and shaken, after what was in essence, no matter how minor it may seem, an assault on my person. I suppose I’ve been extraordinarily luck so far in that nothing like that had really happened to me before, other than the odd comment and catcall from guys in the streets.

On top of that, it had been a very long day, I hadn’t slept well the night before, and I had a nightmare of a blister which was making me limp a little bit. My legs ached and I was about ready to drop anyway. Combined with the constant irritation of people either asking to take pictures with me, or just taking pictures of me without even asking, I was really ready to do someone some serious harm.

About half an hour later, I nearly bit some guy’s head off at India Gate; I really did blow my top when he asked me for a photo, but it turned out he just wanted me to take a picture of him and his group of friends. I suppose I look trustworthy. News to me, seeing as I am a chronic sufferer from resting bitch face.

But I had just gotten so fed up of people wanting to take photos of me! Even if it’s just with kids – I don’t want to encourage people here to treat foreigners like zoo animals, and so I’m not tolerant of it at all, and haven’t allowed anyone who asked to take a photo with me.

I don’t know why, perhaps because I’m currently a bit hormonal, but when I sat down in Starbucks, I felt a bit like crying. Combining that with the fact that my mental health isn’t the most stable at the best of times, dwelling in my own thoughts can end in disaster. Just overwhelmed, I suppose?

I’m not lonely. I’m not even missing home. I don’t desperately wish I had a friend or significant other with me. And I sure as heck don’t want to go back to England just yet. But I’m sure everyone who travels for any longer time sometimes starts to feel a little flat, a little bit deflated. I’m sure a lot of it is down to tiredness and the sheer overload of things to take in in a place like Delhi. It only lasts a day or so, but when it hits, it’s an unpleasant feeling.

Bear in mind that Instagram and Facebook paint a picture which isn’t always reality. I’ve been ill a few times, been snappish and tired more than a few times, and I’m really quite worried about an old mental health problem which is starting to rear its ugly head. I suppose that’s the nature of change, and of completely throwing out what you’re used to and uprooting your life for a while. There’s a tendency to revert to old and possibly harmful coping mechanisms.

Being on your own means you don’t have people to distract you when you’re in a bad frame of mind, and it’s easy to dwell on what’s bothering you. God knows that I’ve experienced that before; I wasted so much of my time in New York moping about my university situation, that I probably only did about half of the things I could have, had I forced myself out of the black mood by just getting out and doing something! And seeing new things, and moving about, and even getting on public transport always cheers me up and revitalises me when I’m feeling low.

That said, I am absolutely loving my travels and the vast majority of the time, I’m so grateful, and I’ve sat in more than one amazing place in the last few days and wondered how I got so lucky to be here. And as I’m sure that by this point, any family members reading are worrying themselves into a flurry, I really am fine. Or if I’m not fine one day, the next will be better.

Morning optimism at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi
Morning optimism at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi

We get another chance every day, after all. I believe it was Thoreau, in the closing line of Walden, who said the following.

“There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”

4 Replies to “When The Road Gets Tough…”

  1. What a lovely quotation at the end.
    I’m sure you’re right about the family and worrying – but I’m equally sure we’ll be fine, just as long as you can keep the optimistic stuff coming as well from time to time.
    This is a lovely mature piece of writing and I’m sure you will refer to it again on your travels and indeed when you return.
    I do hope you continue with this writing if you have time over the next few years – you have such an engaging style and I always look forward to reading the next instalment.
    Wish I could write in the same way myself.
    D. XXXX
    ps – no feedback type comments this time!

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