Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Magical Himalayan Odyssey - Transition

The Magical Himalayan Odyssey - if I have to split this journey into 3 phases, it would be preparation, execution and transition. The previous 5 posts were mainly about the first two phases and this post is about the last one. I have asked myself as to why should I be sharing this post, does it add any value at this point of time or for that matter, does anyone care? I don't have clear answers for these, but I know for sure that I need to share this for my own sense of completion.

Now, when I look back, the transition has been the most challenging of all the 3 phases. Thanks to this phase, my respect and admiration for people who pursue multiple travel breaks has increased drastically.

So, what was the first challenge? The travel hangover. Remember the feeling of returning to the routine after a week long trek/vacation ? I used the past experiences as standard and was well aware that the hangover will be lot intense than any I had earlier. But, honestly, my estimation was way below the reality. I was pretty much blank the first week I returned home. The change was too drastic – from backpacking in the magical Himalayan belt to being stuck in the chaotic Bangalore, all in a matter of less than 48 hours.

Thankfully, one of the wisest men I met during the journey gave me a timely warning that the biggest challenge I would face immediately after returning home would be the lack of people who seem to understand or appreciate the journey. He could not have been more accurate. Imagine attending a 3 month sports camp, say football. Throughout the camp, you are surrounded by people who enjoy football and discuss it with passion. You return home and continue talking football to all around. But, not many would be interested. Even if they show some interest, the conversation would just not be the same as with friends from the camp. One cannot blame the people around. Am quite sure I will not be in a position to have an interesting conversation about an hobby I don't pursue. Sounds simple, but it still took me a couple of weeks to accept that the days of randomly bumping into exciting and inspiring travelers are over.

My break was not over yet, the great Indian dance of democracy was around the corner and I got a chance to work with some enthusiastic, well read and passionate volunteers working towards the elections. Maybe, the next post should be about this experience. The elections in my state was in mid April and its completion also officially pulled the curtains on my 9 month long break.

Then, what next? With time, I guess a few weeks for most, one accepts the reality and eventually start focusing on the task of rebuilding one's life. The career is possibly the most significant part of the rebuilding process for most. The fact is that being away from work does not add much value to one's resume. Might sound harsh, but that is the reality. Actually, I feel one of the most misunderstood idea about a travel break is that it adds value to your resume, irrespective of the field you are working in. The skills acquired and the experiences gained does not really contribute to one being a better engineer and it is naive to expect it to. I can safely assume that it goes the same for most professions. The bottom line is that being away from work puts one at a slight disadvantage and better be prepared for it. The impact might vary from field to field, but it is not something which is insurmountable.

With time and required efforts, the rebuilding process will be complete and one gets back to a life which might not be visibly different from what it was prior to the break. So, what has changed? Would it have not been the same if I did not pursue this break? Does it mean that the journey has had no or little overall impact? Maybe, it all comes down to one significant question – was it all worth the efforts ? Have asked this question myself many times and the answer has always been an YES. I would not trade the experiences and the memories for anything else, in spite of all the associated risks and challenges. Am I proud of this journey? Definitely yes, but more than this, I am just glad that I pursued what I believed in and this has been a very satisfying feeling. One thing I know for sure is that for any reason if I did not pursue this break, I would have ended with a truckload of regret and the regret would have possibly lasted forever.