The initial excitement of my trip to India still burns strong. But, as the new year proceeds and the date of my departure draws closer, I have to say the enormity of this adventure has started to feel very real. The realisation that, as the UK winter brings colder temperatures our way, they won’t be a patch on the cold harshness and subzero temperatures I'll face when trekking alongside the mountains of Kashmir. As I left for the gym this morning, shivering like a grown arse baby, I realised just how comfortable life has become over the last year.
If I've been up late of an evening writing, I’m brought fantastic coffee in bed the following morning. I enjoy cooking great food at my leisure with every imaginable ingredient available. The local shops are close by, as is the train station. I only pop to the West End for meetings when necessary, as I’ve grown to dislike crowds. I’ve swapped nights out partying for quiet nights in watching travel documentaries or reading a book. I watch the boxing on TV at home nowadays, and not in the pub getting pissed with my mates. Even the rugby is generally watched on the sofa, in my comfies with a beer in hand. To say my life has become comfortable, too comfortable in fact; would be a massive understatement.
The other day I found myself trying to rearrange a meeting because it meant I would have to travel in the rush hour FFS! I could understand it if I was an ageing seventy year old, but I'm not. I'm a fresh faced, forty year old guy, who lives, works and breathes the hustle and bustle of London. At least I used to. Nowadays, I find myself shunning large crowds, choosing pubs over clubs, and opting for an easier more peaceful way of life whenever possible.
The realisation has finally hit me...
The harsh reality I’m faced with is a huge, gigantic crazy arse adventure. A gigantic, fucking monstrosity, of a challenge. Starting off in Kashmir is going to prove extremely problematic. For starters, the temperatures are going to be extremely cold. Suddenly, the picturesque houseboats floating on the lake on a summer's day, are replaced with dark grey, ice cold mountainous landscapes, looking hostile and particularly uninviting. What roads there are will be treacherous and high risk, made worse by the erratic driving of just about every Indian who steps foot in any type of motorised vehicle. Suddenly the idea of plotting up roadside in a tent, cooking dried ration food, seems less appealing by the minute. Wild animals, stray dogs and bandits? Could I be eaten alive while taking a dump in the wilderness? Worse still, caught by ISIS or some breakaway protest group hellbent on taking charge of Kashmir.
OK so let’s imagine that I stay alive and make it through, then what? There’s still the small task of actually walking the 2,300 miles it’s going to take to complete the adventure. If my calculations serve me correctly I’ll be walking close to 30 miles a day. That’s over a marathon a day for three months. To say this is no walk in the park, would be an understatement. Let’s also not forget, I’ll be on my own, with no support team, guide or fixer. This is no easy feat I can assure you. A whole host of things could go wrong - altitude sickness, malaria, heatstroke, infection, or simple exhaustion.
Harsh conditions but what about my toe nails - will I lose my toenails?
I’d call myself a man’s man. A man of integrity and adventure. I’m bloody English for crying out loud. And don’t forget my ledgendary status as one of the most decorated Cub Scouts of all time. Name a badge, any badge, I've got it. Done it, completed it mate! There is no knot I couldn't tie, tent I couldn’t erect, or tin of baked beans I couldnt heat over a fire.
When you were as successful as me in the Cub Scouts you are built for adventure and the unknown.
But that was roughly thirty-three years ago, when I was seven, and sometimes you forget things. You become less resilient to certain conditions. You become used to creature comforts and the nice things in life, now I live my life as a civvy outside the brotherhood of the Cub Scouts.
What I lack in manual skills I make up for in knowledge and wisdom...apparently.
However, the reality is that’s about all I have got. My DIY skills are pretty much non existent. I was shit at wood work at school (how unmanly is that), I use half a bottle of lighter gel to get the bbq started. I like to cleanse, tone and moisturise before I go to bed each night, and I always cuddle a pillow to get to sleep. I wonder what the hell I was thinking about when I came up with this ridiculous idea of walking the entire length of India. There will be no tour of the Golden Triangle in Rajasthan, pub crawl in Delhi, or Ayavedic yoga retreat in Kerala. No, this is a straight up expedition across some of the harshest terrains life can throw at you.
But isn't the the point of an adventure.
Where is the fun in it, if it where easy? What would you learn about yourself? Where does personal growth come from if you stay in your lane?
Who put you into that lane to start with?
Have you followed a career path because YOU wanted to? Or have you succumb to outside pressures, such as parents or financial restraints? My life growing up was far from perfect, but when it came to deciding on a career I wanted to pursue, I was left to my own devices. Sadly, this isn’t the case for many people throughout the world, particularly my Indian brothers and sisters whose families have already set out and planned, not only their careers, but often their future spouses in advance for them.
I'm not saying you have to do something as far fetched as I have done, far from it. But do something. Take action, feel uncertain in your endeavour and ensure you stand out from the crowd. Make a commitment to yourself to change something up in your life on a grand scale, whatever that may be...