The Earth Explodes

I was reading through some of my journals from India, and I stumbled upon an impression that I’d recorded that made me happy.

My first view of the Taj Mahal

The first time that I unexpectedly wandered into sight of the Taj Mahal in Agra, from a quiet spot across the river behind it, the first thought that my brain felt like pushing to the front of my consciousness was: “Wow, it looks just like it does in Commander Keen 2: The Earth Explodes (a computer game I used to play when I was maybe 5) when you see the pictures of the major earth landmarks that the Vorticon Mothership is targeting.”

A screenshot of the death ray machine that’s targeting the Statue of Liberty in Commander Keen (I couldn’t find one of the Taj online)

Sometimes I really wonder what the hell is going on down there in the depths of my mind.

Mr Cool

It might be a good idea to think twice before packing a ‘Mr. Cool’ shirt as one of the only five shirts that you decide to bring to India.

I don’t know what it is about it, but it seems to have some sort of mysterious power over Indian men that compels every single one of them who is capable of reading English to joyously shout “Mister Cool!” as they pass by.

Me and my Mr Cool shirt, in Korea though, not India.

One day I was out for a walk in Dharamsala with Joanna, a tall, blond Swedish girl that I’d been travelling with for a short time, and after about the ninth “Mister Cool!” that was shouted at me that day, one of the men passing by yelled out “Mister Cool… and Mister Hot!”

He paused a second, embarrassed by what he realized that he had just said, and then quickly corrected himself, continuously yelling “Mrs. Hot!” after us.

When we finally got home, Joanna noticed for the first time that my shirt said Mr. Cool on it.

We were walking home with a bottle of beer we’d bought that had been wrapped in a newspaper featuring a picture of the Dalai Lama – who we’d just been to see earlier that day.

“Oh, your shirt says Mr. Cool! That’s why they were all yelling that at you.”

No, I always get that actually. Something about me just happens to conjure the exact phrase “Mr. Cool” to the tongues of dozens of men that I pass every day. It’s just a coincidence that I happened to be wearing a shirt with those same words on it that particular day.

Ramble On!

One of the hardest things about travelling for (in my case inadvertently) years on end, is that you get to a point where you start to long for home no matter where you are – although it gets exceedingly difficult to say where exactly home actually is. A backpack that you used to live out of as you traveled endlessly from one new place to the next? An oceanside apartment on a tropical island where you taught scuba diving? Dharamsala, where your days were spent in philosophical conversation in various hippie laden cafés and restaurants, with an occasional classroom full of Tibetan refugees thrown in for good measure? Back in Toronto where you and all your friends are continually bouncing around from one creative project to the next? The list could continue…

Every few months I suddenly get hit with an overwhelming longing to be in about 10 different places simultaneously. So many little fragments of my soul that I’ve left scattered behind in so many strange little corners of the globe start to call out to me all at once. So many places where I struck out on a new path, environments that I used to change who I am, modes of existence that seem to have worked their way into the fabric of my being in some way or another.

A Tibetan Buddhist stupa in Kathmandu

I remember the exact moment I first felt this sensation. I was in a wide open area, soon to be a new housing development, in Kathmandu between the central city and a Tibetan district that I was walking towards. It was a quiet spot.  Anywhere would have been a quiet spot after months of the relentless bustle of India though maybe!  I’d sunk into a bit of a reflective mood over the course my afternoon walk, and the sound of an airplane flying overhead called me to question the reality of my situation.

Here I was, wandering around with perfect familiarity, in some well distant spot on the complete other side of the world from where I’d spent the rest of my life. Or was it the rest of my life that was now so far away behind me? If I were on that plane, how many different heartbreakingly familiar places could I find myself in within just a day? Ever since that moment, that feeling has never really been too far away. No matter where I make a home for myself, there’s always another one off in the distance somewhere whose absence I can feel.

For a short while though I thought I had it – somewhere that I did feel like I had roots. I’d found it in the form of a person with whom, no matter where I was and what I was doing, I always seemed to be in the place where I needed to be – even if that wasn’t the easiest place to be at times.  But like every other thing in my life in past years, it was all too soon before I found myself adrift again, leaving yet another destination behind and wondering if somewhere in my future lies somewhere that I can happily settle into.

George Harrison (or was it Lao Tsu) was certainly onto something when he said “The farther one travels, the less one knows”.

The rooftop view from my new apartment in Busan, South Korea

Half a year later, I’m still picking up the pieces, and have been creating a new little home for myself here in Busan, South Korea where I’m teaching English at a high school and looking for the next thing to get off the ground. I’m loving the mountains scattered everywhere throughout the city, the beaches so close by, the great food and drink, the cinema centre, and most recently and particularly the live theatre scene that I’ve become involved with. But more of that soon! And enough of this seriousness! Stay tuned for more tales of creative projects, life in Korea, flashbacks to past travels, and whatever other thoughts decide to rear their ugly head.

If you’re interested in any tales of my past endeavours, check out my previous blog chronicling my early travels after university as part of a bid to become an extra in The Hobbit at: hobbitdoc.blogspot.com.