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January 17, 2013

Every country has an Underground

Picture credit: DerSpiegel Online

It was 2010 and I had been working and traveling in Asia for three years filled to the brim with excitement, discoveries and cultural experiences into the ‘Other’. Time was going slow, and it was a good sign: I learnt that when you start feeling that you have more time than you can handle, it means that you are living your life to the fullest. However, after a while we all need a traveling break: so I decided to go deeper in that new tropical relationship I just found, try to slow down and look for a job, and pursue all those kind of things everybody is running away from before he/she starts vagabonding. Life is a circle, after all, and as much as we want to chase away those ghosts, they sporadically come back to pull our feet at night. I needed that pause: the over pollution of random backpackers in Southern Thailand planted the seed of deja-vu, tiredness and however you want to call it deep into my soul.
So I stopped. And for a little while, I thought I was leading the perfect life, having a routine, but being away from my genetic home.  Well, as I wrote just a few lines above, life is a circle, and once again I crossed its edge and felt miserably restless in Malaysia. There had to be something else that I did not experience, that I still had overlooked. Something worth staying longer, besides the pleasures and obligations of a not-so-new, already consolidated relationship.

When I got sick of looking straight ahead, I remembered that back home, I used to look underground. How could I have been so limited by just concentrating on the upper layer of things? Brandishing a cultural shovel, I started digging deep underground until I hit a rock. Well, many rocks: hard rock, punk rock, heavy metal, black metal, crustcore, grindcore and God save me how many more rocks!! And they had not been hidden so deeply. I had just overlooked them, not fully concentrating on the place I lived. I learnt that, to be happier when traveling long term, I had to watch the world with the eyes of a fly: multidirectional, spherical vision. The lesson I learnt has been able to keep me here, as I reached a comfortable niche at the bottom of that underground well, propelling serendipitous occasions for the greatest cultural insight.

I am not preaching that in order to be traveling happy you have to play heavy metal or punk rock music with the locals, BUT if I found my particular special niche, and my own way, I argue that everybody can accomplish the same with a bit of multidirectional determination.  

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Category: Asia, Expat Life, Notes from the collective travel mind, On The Road, Vagabonding Life

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