Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The shock of the new

It's wet and misty in Shimla. It took me a long day of uncomfortable bus travel to get me and my bicycle up here from Delhi, but from here I should be able to get on the road into the mountains. I wish I could say that I'm excited and inspired and stuff like that, but mostly I'm shell-shocked, sad and full of tears.

48 hours ago I had a well-paid job and now I'm unemployed; 48 hours ago I had a beautiful girlfriend and now I'm lonely again; 48 hours ago I had friends and work colleagues in an environment I understood and now I'm an alien; 48 hours ago my children were a couple of hours away instead of another continent. I feel utterly out of place and the tearful goodbyes at Heathrow were crushing and too, too memorable. I'm not sure I really know what I'm doing but I hope it gets better soon. Knowing it may be a long time before I return home just emphasises all my feelings of isolation. I think it must take a very strong and determined mind to wander around the world, unsure of where or what tomorrow will bring. Perhaps I haven't appreciated just how much mental toughness is required, and I'm not sure I've got the right stuff. Dreaming is one thing, doing is definitely another!

I know, I know, this is all just the shock of the new and the pining for the comfort of the old. I'm not usually this negative, but it's a lot harder than I imagined to get into the right frame of mind and, at the moment, there's too much time and not enough scenery to stop me dwelling on what I've left behind. However, just writing this blog in a dusty internet cafe on the Shimla Mall (together with power cuts) helps me put things into perspective and feel more positive so please forgive me feeling sorry for myself.

I'm hoping the rains will stop tomorrow and give me a chance to cycle north without a soaking. I'll be heading into the Spiti Valley and somewhere along the way an Australian friend of mine manages a holiday lodge. I might stay for a couple of nights to acclimatise to the altitude before cycling further north to Leh and west to Srinagar. It will be nice to talk to people and feel less out of place. Let's hope so.


  1. Paulo - you may be in a very different environment, but you're certainly not alone. You have people all around the world thinking of you and rooting for you!! (and you better believe everyone else is sitting at their desks at work wishing they could trade places!) x

  2. Hello Bro !!

    Chin up - you're doing what you've dreamt of for years and what other people are still only dreaming about. It will soon feel easier I'm sure, especially once you've talked to your Australian friend. Take care and watch out for the wild animals. Looking forward to your next blog.
    Love, Lynn and Chloe xx

  3. Paul its only a journey you haven't gone forever, you don't have to stay for a long time if you don't want to, It's always strange when you arrive somewhere alone I'm sure once you start chatting and meeting people things will change. I think it's fascinating and look forward to all the stories, you would have always wondered if you hadn't done it, keep us posted.xx

  4. On almost every trip, when I first arrive I think that I have finally made a mistake. What am I doing here? This trip is a bad idea. Nothing is right. And so forth and so on. Then I rest and get a bite to eat and walk around and get the lay of the land and think maybe this may work after all.

    You have bit off a whole lot more than I ever have in my trips, but I wouldn't be surprised if a similar psycho-dynamic (I've never used that word before; I wonder if I am using it right) might be at work with you.

    Cut yourself loose from home. Burn your boats and set off into the interior. Have your adventure. You'll be better for it when you get back home.

  5. Hey, don't be so hard on yourself. As soon as you've picked up a dent in your Sigg bottle and have cut in that cyclist tan you will become part of the landscape. You have a right to be there, shake off city life and breath free.

    Anyway, when I went to Delhi all I saw was the office, the inside of a Taxi and the hotel. I want to know what it's really like!

  6. Thanks for all the supportive comments guys. I'm still on the road and still getting northwards, the homesickness is incredibly disabling though. Not sure how to deal with it at the moment and I'm in two minds about how or if to continue. I'm sure it will get better as I spend more time on road, and the routine of cycling takes my mind off it. One day at a time!

  7. Paul!! The begiinning of your journey will be very disorientating, but once in the swing of things you'll realise you've made the right decision. Don't fret me and Neil will be stalking you soon! :-) and as Ruth says you can always come back whenever you want, doesn't mean you've been defeated. It means you follow your heart and that's the most important thing. If its bad now, it means it's only up from here. :-) safe journey. Even if you're ancient and not ugly. Xxx

  8. Well, I think the fact that you've even gone as far as you have shows you have plenty of "the right stuff". Packing up and making the leap away from everything you know is no small thing! Dealing with culture shock and homesickness takes up a lot of physical and emotional energy. And I've never gone out on a bike, by myself, in India, in the rain and mud. So you're excused for feeling a bit sorry for yourself :) I hope it will ease up soon for you, and you feel better.
    Can you call/skype/email back home more often, to get you through the initial homesickness? Write letters or a journal? Or blog more!
    Will be thinking of you and wishing you a break in the weather.