My ancestors were nomadic pastoralists. I’ve traced our history generations back to when we were Afghani warriors, who migrated over the centuries to Pakistan, to north-west India with trader caravans, and eventually to the Kutch desert, always with their loyal camels, goats and sheep. After being converted from Shakti worshippers to a Shia sect of Islam, they moved to certain Gujarati villages. My great-grandparents migrated from India to Kenya, one of the spiciest countries of East Africa. They started off as maize traders in the little town of Webuye in western Kenya. After years of hard work and growing their trading business, they moved to settle in green Eldoret. My parents migrated to the capital city Nairobi. I have definitely inherited that nomadic gene. I am most at home on the road, not knowing what lies ahead.
Growing up in Kenya as an Indian
This mixing pot, this land of many narratives, is where I spent my childhood, navigating the intricacies of a racially privileged minority to which my heart and soul did not belong. I never quite fit in as a ‘real’ Kenyan, nor was I able to fulfil the Kenyan-Indian stereotype that was elitist, racist, and aloof from the rest of the population.
I did not understand these divisions of race, wealth, and class. I was constantly questioning these inequalities and injustices that were obviously not right, but we were all accepting and taking advantage of – or suffering on the other end. The answers I received were not satisfactory. I was instructed to face the ‘real world’, lose my idealism, join the game of ‘man eat man.’ I couldn’t. I retreated into my own fantasy world of fairies and dragons, which I found in my books and in games with a few other fellow odd kids.
Free spirited as I was, I wandered my own way, drifting hither and thither… until eventually, years later as an official ‘adult’ I actually found my tribe. The artists, the activists, and the spiritually conscious were fellow oddballs, radicals and weirdos on the society’s margins. Race did not matter, gender did not matter, religion/lack thereof did not matter, background did not matter, ‘class’ did not matter, ethnicity did not matter. Only love mattered. They embraced me as a fellow soul. I found home.
Meeting the Sinners
Rewind a few years prior to when at 18, and I headed off to Montreal, Canada, for college. Imagine the culture shock, moving from a tiny religious Indian community in Africa to a big, bad and beautiful city in the West. My biggest shock honestly was that the average person walking the streets was white, not black – took me years to get my head around this. And here, in Montreal is where I met all the people I had been told were sinners – gay people, atheists, bastards, druggies, communists, anarchists, you name it. And…. lo and behold, these people weren’t so bad after all. In fact, they opened my eyes to their realities, and I learnt oh so much. Soon my best friends were all these labels that society has put on, often more enlightened and aware, folk who are really made of the same blood, bones, organs, and love as anyone else.
My First Backpacking Trip
Fast forward to 22-year-old me in California doing my Master’s degree. I had heard of this solo backpacking thing, so decided to give it a try. I crossed the border to Mexico on foot and wandered around for a month, barely enough to taste a fraction of the immense natural beauty and cultural heritage that this country holds. I barely spoke a word of Spanish when I started, but that didn’t stop the wonderful Mexican people from making me feel at home and making me want to move to Oaxaca!
Bitten, Smitten, Never Turning Back
The bug had bitten. The beautiful poison had been drunk. I decided that one day, I would leave everything behind and buy a one-way ticket to Colombia, a country that many people had told me would steal my heart. 5 years later, back home in Kenya, I had saved enough money to last several months on a budget, so I quit my job and bought that one-way ticket. February 2017, I landed in Colombia with tears in my eyes.
So much for a few months. 3 years later and I am still on the road. I took budget travel to another level – anything to keep me on the road. Since that crazy decision, I have backpacked in Kenya, Ethiopia, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Cuba, U.K., Thailand, India, Nepal, Vietnam, across the East African coast, and Zanzibar. Next stop: West Africa. However, I need to refuel the supply of coins that a human needs to survive this world…
I cannot bear the thought of going back to a 9-5 job, being a slave to the system, working for some institution’s manipulations and greed. So I am now delving deep into passion projects. My work will be work no more. It will be doing things that make my heart happy. What makes me happy?
- Nature. Sitting on a rock and meditating.
- Traveling, obviously. Meeting amazing people and sharing beautiful experiences with them.
- Writing. I really need to isolate for few months ASAP to write a certain fiction book that is burning my core to get written! Hit me up if you have a place or want to split rent in a cottage in the woods.
- Playing my bansuri (the Indian bamboo flute)
- Playing the Tibetan singing bowls – for meditation, for healing,….
- Sharing love, joy, peace. Vibrations!
So this is my journey now. This travel blog will be half my life, and my work in sound healing and yoga will be the other half – and with these gifts I will continue to wander. It’s nerve-racking to imagine that this is possible, surviving off love and passion, outside of the system. Come along with me chasing this dream, and I hope it gives you inspiration to break free and fulfill your own heart’s desires. And if you are already on the same path, let’s encourage each other and do what we came to this earth to do.
As for You and Me
I also specifically hope my journey can inspire more people to defy the narrative that backpackers are all ‘white males from the West.’ There’s a growing tribe of society’s oddballs everywhere following our hearts. I encourage you, whoever you are, to gain the courage to break the bounds of societal expectation that stifles us in so many ways.
Exploring the world on a budget is for anyone who has that dream, that burning desire. If I’m doing it, so can you. And I’m going to help you however I can through this blog, with tips and tricks to guide you, and stories to inspire you. (Subscribe button below)
- THEORY OF INDIAN DIASPORA: DYNAMICS OF GLOBAL MIGRATION
- UK Lohanas from asian-voice
- Lohana History from mylohana.com
- Interviews with the older generations of my relatives in India and Kenya