Chaotic Indian Street

Not in control? Or out of control?

Failing to accept that there are things that are beyond our control? Just deal with it.

“This is not funny anymore! We’ve been sitting on this bus for 12 hours, and all I want to do is find a cheap, clean hotel and collapse into a horizontal position… Now we’re here why is it taking so long to open the luggage compartment? Come on mate, you’ve apparently got the ability to drive a bus down dirt roads and then navigate some serious Indian city traffic, rickshaws and camels; why can’t you manage to get a key in the lock and twist it to open the door?… Hey fella, shoving me so you can see what’s happening isn’t going to help things. STOP. PUSHING. ME.”

That is a vivid memory of a 10 minutes episode from a six week long trip to India, about 20 years ago. One tiny little snapshot that sticks out sharply from the many good memories that have softened over time. Why? Because it showed me that as a traveler I was ill prepared for not being in control of situations. Not having lost control of them, but for failing to accept that there are things that are beyond our control in the first place, “so just deal with it”.

As Melissa and I prepare for our big adventure there are many things that we have no control over. We are waiting on the black-hole of government bureaucracy to process a visa application that stands in the way of everything we do next. We are going to be couch-surfing with friends while we sit this out and wait; being a guest in somebody’s house means ceding control over much of our personal time to others. Our employment and commuting situations in the meantime are full of annoyances. Control is something we don’t have right now…

I know myself well. I lack patience at the best of times. So if I pluck myself out of my regular life and plop myself in the middle of a strange place with lack of personal space and some minor annoyances (in the grand scheme of things) then sometimes my brain’s Rational Behaviour app just crashes. I don’t turn into a remake of Psycho, but I might shout, feel angry and look like a spoilt brat.

We all know how ridiculous tourists can look when they don’t get their way. I don’t perceive myself to be a pampered tour-bus drone who hates that “they just don’t do it like we do at home”. But I do recognise that I can fall into a trap when tired, grumpy or unnecessarily stressed. For Melissa as much as me I want to learn to stretch my short fuse. When it comes to it, I hope we can both raise ourselves above some random unfolding situation. Knowing that ten minutes of our lives getting emotionally worked up could be better spent opening our eyes, observing and absorbing the chaos around. Soaking up these moments as an experience, rather than getting stuck in our own heads.

It’s a lack of control and the adrenaline rush that comes with it that can give us the most vivid, long lasting memories. So I want to make sure they are good ones.

Got any tips for not “losing it” when things go wrong? Write a comment here, or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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