Skip to main content

Living life out of a suitcase


 

December 2022

As I sit on my fourteenth flight for the year, with two more scheduled before the curtains are drawn on 2022 (god bless my carbon footprint), laptop open, a glass of wine and a blank word document, I begin to ponder over my journey over the last few months. Penning it down and (at the risk of sounding philosophical) ‘reflecting’ on this journey seems imperative. 

---


May 2022

 

After two wonderful years of ups and downs in Le Havre (thank you, COVID-19!), I said my good-byes, packed my bags and was on the train to Paris. But that was not my final destination – for now at least. After spending two nights at a friend’s, dropping my baggage off at a relative’s, catching the French Open and a round of golf in the middle, and a train to Beauvais (an hour north of Paris), I was on a flight to Barcelona. Checked in to my hostel, met my friend, went for 3 days of the Barcelona Formula 1 Grand Prix together, watched a Redbull 1-2 finish, celebrated with beer, sangria and tapas, and next thing I knew – I was on a flight to New York City. I spent a jam-packed week there – with my parents who had flown in from India, sister (who was graduating), relatives who I had not seen in ages (thank you, COVID-19, once again), friends I had not seen in months and a bit of touristy sight-seeing. In the middle of all this, I bumped into a classmate from middle school in India who I had not seen in almost a decade – a story for another time though. 

7 days after reaching NYC (7 days too long if you ask me – I’m (sort of) kidding, America), I left the US on a red-eye back to Paris, checked in to my two-month long Airbnb, caught up with a friend who I was unsure when I’ll be meeting next and picked up my baggage from said relative’s. Jetlagged and sleep deprived from having flown on a low-cost carrier trans-Atlantic, the next day, I started my summer internship at a Paris based company. Two months passed – I spent countless summer nights by the Seine, equipped with a bottle of rosé, good company and a playlist. Work kept me busy, though mostly in Paris, apart from two work-trips to Calais and Dunkirk. 
After having worked in June and July, I dashed to the South of France in the beginning of August – as any true Parisian would. 

 

A couple of days later, I returned to Paris, tidied up my Airbnb (maintaining a good personal rating is a must!) and packed my life’s worth of belongings into three and a half bags and a backpack which thankfully fit into a cab that took me to CDG. Nervously waiting at the check in counter, I considered myself lucky to have been allowed to not only check in an extra piece of luggage but also that two of them were awfully overweight – all free of charge – on Air India, the airline I sarcastically call our ‘national pride’. 

 

Once back ‘home’ in Bangalore, I had no time to waste. My semester long internship had begun almost the second I got on my flight. Thankfully, I was working remotely - I had a flexible schedule but a set of deliverables to achieve. Fortunately, or unfortunately, those deliverables included a lot of travelling. In the six weeks I was ‘home’, I clocked over 3000 km on the road, apart from a weekend trip to Kolkata (an additional 3000 km) for a friend’s birthday. Apart from travelling to coastal and northern Karnataka, meetings in Bangalore were plenty, and any Bangalorean will know how hard it is getting from A to B in the city. My (now injured) left leg, perpetually pressed on the rock-hard clutch of our Renault, stuck in traffic moving at snail’s speed, attests to this.

 

Six short weeks later, I was (once again) on the national pride, towards the national capital – on work. Luckily, a friend had an extra room at his apartment, and I did not have to undergo the hassle of finding short term accommodation in a major city – a topic on which I can write a book, after having spent a staggered 4 months in Paris and 2 weeks in Delhi and 4 upcoming months in London.
Notwithstanding the sub-par quality of flying said airline, there were some benefits of being a frequent flier – I had accumulated enough miles for a weekend trip to somewhere and had to get rid of the miles, fearing the (now announced) merger of said airline with its sister airlines, and the potential impact it could have on the loyalty program. Amritsar was the destination of choice – two days were earmarked for binging on butter loaded Kulchas, chole and the heart wrenching stories of Partition, apart from witnessing first-hand the banal nationalism at the Wagah-Attari border – a long overdue blogpost in itself. 

 

Back to Delhi, and another week’s worth of meetings. After saying my au revoirs at the CSH/French Institute where I was working out of, I caught the next flight out of Delhi to continue the same internship in Paris. The cycle continued. Airbnb'ed for a month – unpacked my bags. Failed to find accommodation through the rental market (due to municipal laws banning short term rentals), resorted to Airbnb'ing again, packed my bags, moved everything, unpacked. Four weeks later, packed, dropped off bags at said relative's, flew to the US for winter break. Return to Paris, pick up bags, take the train to London (for my exchange at King’s College London) and unpack. The cycle persists. Upon having written this down, I now understand what my friends have been meaning when they start every conversation with, “Where are you right now? It’s hard to keep track nowadays”.

 

However, as some may have already caught on, the aim of this article is to write about far more than my travels, jet-setting experiences and carbon footprint over the past few months. There are 3 themes I wish to delve into – identity, community and flexibility- and the importance of having all three.

 

January 2023


Over the last two and a half years, it has become increasingly difficult to answer a simple question, “Where are you from?”. Well, “I’m from Bangalore”. “Do you live there?”. “No”. “Ah, you’re from Paris”. “Ummhh, not quite, but sort of?”. 

Just like my friends and Twitter bio who can no longer keep track of my constant location changes, today, nothing feels like home. Sure, Bangalore is “home” but each visit to the city makes feel a little more alien. Le Havre used to be home but no as much anymore. Is Paris home? Not quite, I’ve been there for about four months in total! But is that necessarily a bad thing or a rite of passage for someone keen on building endurance to the constancy of change? 

 

In the midst of this muddled identity, I cannot but stress on the importance of community and building one, wherever you go. I am grateful and thankful to all those, in each of these cities, who have made an alien city, feel like home – be it my friends in Bangalore, Le Havre, Paris, or soon, I hope, London. It has made me realise the importance of finding a community, a set of people to fall back on, enjoy your Friday evenings with, in any city you find yourself in – temporarily or (semi) permanently. 

 

Lastly, the importance of flexibility – the flexibility of living out of a suitcase – literally and metaphorically. 

The last 7 months or so have taught me to pack light, get rid of unnecessary and materialistic items and carry only what is needed - airlines after all, have ridiculously low baggage allowances. Metaphorically, it has made me realised the importance of building relationships in the moment and letting life play out its path. Living in the moment, lacking clarity on what is in store next has has been daunting, challenging, confusing, exciting and adventurous - all at the same time – this has had a whole bunch of learning experiences. For this, I’m most grateful for what the latter half of 2022 has taught me and I look forward to what 2023, hopefully with an ounce more of permanence, has in store for me. 


Onwards to London!

Comments

  1. Love love love this. It made me laugh , think, even feel a bit sad - but most of all, feel
    Immensely proud of who you are - and your journey through life

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Visiting the Kasturinagar (KA-03) RTO - a tumultuous but manageable experience to get a Learner's/ Driver's License without an agent/ driving school

Ask anyone, and I can guarantee that they will have a story (and in most cases, many stories) about their trip, or rather, numerous trips to the RTO for something as simple as getting a Learner's License (LL) or a Driver's License (DL). In this blog, I hope to make your life a tad bit easier by guiding you through the entire process, which may seem easy at first but is full of (overcome able) challenges if you know what you are doing. I turned 18 in January this year, and besides cutting a cake, I worked on my LL application online. I challenged myself to complete the entire LL to DL process by myself and without the help of an agent or a driving school, unlike what the majority do. The lengthy application process and multiple visits to the RTO, impressed upon me why most people decided to pay a little extra to get an agent to do it for them. Still, I was determined not to pay a single rupee more than the official cost. I succeeded.  Do note that this answer is concerning the K

iOS 7 Update for Apple Devices

There is an OS update for iPads, iPhones and iPods (only for some generations). In this update there are many changes. The button on the right side of your iPads and iPhones now can be used to either, lock screen rotation, mute, pause or play your music. Lock Screen: In the older version to unlock the phones/tablet we had to swipe at the bottom part at the screen. Now we can swipe anywhere on the screen. As you can see in the picture, I have circled something at the bottom. If we swipe upwards we get many shortcuts. We can pause, play, change music tracks, increase/decrease volume, put the tablet/phone into airplane mode, Turn On/Off Wifi/Bluetooth/Do Not Disturb Option and mute our device.We can also view the current time in different time zones. The keypad that we see when we unlock the phone is also different.Changing the brightness is also an option.Here is a picture of this shortcut panel and the unlock iPad keypad. Control center Different Keypad in lock screen

Opinion on the Tax Rebate - Budget 2019

Source The Union Budget of India that was presented on Feb 1, 2019 was a populist-vote bank driven one filled with proposals to woo all possible stakeholders who are eligible to vote. Be it farmers, the middle class or the economically stronger ones, all sections of society after a brief glance at the highlights of the budget will be content with what Piyush Goyal has to offer in the sixth and final Budget of this term of the NDA. Although I found many parts of the budget a questionable waste of money to fuel populist schemes, I did enjoy certain parts of it, especially the newly introduced tax rebate. The proposed tax rebate  in which income upto INR 5 lakhs is essentially tax-free is one that I wholly welcome for many reasons. The tax-rebate proposal and terms is something that I welcome unconditionally but the way how the Finance Minister has portrayed income up to INR 6.5 lakhs tax free (with the disclaimer that this is only possible if all the 'right' investments ar

Beating the winter blues - Morocco

  After having spent just over two months in England, with short trips to America’s east coast on work and Paris for Diwali, I was itching to travel somewhere new – somewhere I hadn’t been before.     I found myself in one of the study rooms at university, unable to focus on my readings. Winter was setting in. The days were getting shorter, London was getting greyer, and the sun had gone into hibernation. An important question was running in my mind – one that would determine how I would overcome the impending winter blues – what will I do during the Christmas break? A typical international student’s response would be simple – book a return ticket to your home country. However, as a seasoned international student, my response had to be different, right? With a not-so-powerful passport in hand, I grappled with my options. Limited by choices of visa-regime friendly choices, I first laid out a bunch of criteria for an anti-winter blues holiday of choice. I wanted three things - the sun, w

Life during the COVID-19 lockdown

The past three weeks have impacted people around India in different ways. The migrant labourers and daily wage workers have unarguably been affected the worst. It has been an interesting three weeks in which the concept of privilege was spoken about vastly in the media. Even though the salaried middle class is also affected, their lives have been phenomenally better than, for example, those they employ to clean their houses or wash their dishes. It is at times such as these that I realise how lucky a majority of my friends and I are. While most of the country is suffering (suffering in the real sense of not being able to afford and procure three square meals a day and NOT because a shop ran out of imported cheese) in lockdown, my parents could work from home, without intruding into each other’s personal space and could carry out some, if not most of their work from the comfort of their house, unlike the majority of the country. I have been reading articles about the shortfalls of in

A few questions we must ask ourselves about the situation surrounding the Babri Masjid/ Ram Mandir controversy

August 5, 2020, was a historic day in India for two reasons. First, it was a year since the special status of J&K was revoked, and the state was converted into Union Territories; it resulted in it being directly controlled by the Central Government in Delhi and no longer controlled by an elected government under the federal setup. It was simultaneously followed with a year-long (and still ongoing) internet and communications blockade. Second, it was a day celebrated by right-wing Hindu nationalists because of the  ground-bre aking ceremony (Bhoomi Pooja/ Puja) that was held to begin construction of a temple for Lord Ram; a temple being built on a land where a mosque that was demolished by close allies of the BJP in 1992 lay. Reaching this point was not easy. It was a struggle that lasted for decades, multiple cases in court, contributions from the Archaeological Survey of India, claims of Muslims invaders building a mosque over a temple etc. The court finally ruled in favour a temp

The Young Adults Series at the Bangalore International Centre

 November 2020 With France reimposing lockdown restrictions, closing universities, and restricting people's movement to just 1 hour per day, I decided to fly back to India. My rationale was simple; rather than attending online classes in a foreign city, with no roommates, no extra-curricular activities during which I would have usually interacted with people, and it being illegal to meet anyone you are not living with, it made more sense to return to a safer environment in which I could enjoy more freedom, as Bangalore was in a pretty good state, at least compared to France.  While waiting to board my flight at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and came across a post published by the Bangalore International Centre . Clickbait-ly titled  'MUN Ki Baat'  (for those who don't get the reference: PM Modi has a monthly radio show called 'Man Ki Baat'), it piqued my curiosity, and I found myself watching a recording of it. When I in