In December 2007, I had the privilege of attending one of my first proper British Christmas Parties at the East Anglian Gliding Club where I used to regularly fly gliders. It was a long night of amazing home cooked food, great company and endless discussions about life. At one point fairly late into the night, I felt unusually brave after a couple of pints of cider and decided that it was time for me to have my first taste of a wee dram of whisky. As I gulped the fiery liquid in one go, I shuddered slightly, having never experienced the joy of whisky before. I cannot recall the particular brand of whisky but I can still vividly recall the feeling of fire flowing down my throat. My friend Gino noticed me shuddering and winked at me and asked ‘First whisky?”. I managed to nod a ‘yes’ before being enveloped in the warmth of the delicious liquid, much needed in the cold English winter.
We continued talking and Gino asked me what I wanted to do in life. I, albeit slightly under the influence, eagerly replied that I would most likely end up working in a financial firm or a consultancy because that’s what my degree would lead me to. He asked me the same question again ‘What do YOU want do do in life?’ I laughed and said I liked taking photos and while I would like to be a photographer, it was not a “practical” option. He composed himself, stared me in the eye and said something that has been at the back of my mind ever since. “Do what you like. Don’t live your life for others. If you want to be a photographer, then be one. If you want to be an astronaut, then be one. Put all your efforts into it and you will be a great at whatever you choose to do. Follow your heart or you will regret it one day.” I casually smiled it off at that time but I have slowly grown to realize the true value of his words.
Follow your heart. So easy to say. So easy to comprehend. So easy to preach. So hard to practice.
5 years ago, had any one told me that I would one day eventually get elected to the post of the President of the University of Essex Students’ Union, I would have burst out laughing. 3 years ago, if any one had even remotely suggested the idea that I would up choosing photography as a career path, I would have thought it was a good joke. But both situations have proved true, much to my surprise. What lies 3 years ahead, I have no clue but I cannot wait to get there. Regardless of all the plans and goals we make, life continues to surprise us with unexpected twists and turns in this journey.
Spending the past week in the United Kingdom after a couple of months in India opened my eyes to a harsh truth that I would rather avoid. That I am greedy. I wish to have the best of both worlds, UK and India at the same time in my life, hardly possible given the current rate of development in teleportation technologies. However, it also opened my eyes to another fact of life that all humans, by nature, always feel that the grass is greener on the other side. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing – it keeps us motivated, it allows us to reach new heights and continuously conquer challenges. But it also makes us feel that the people on ‘the other side’ have a much better life than us when in reality, the other side also envy you for leading what appears to them as a nicer life. Taking this in to consideration, it is important for us to asses our lives, ask ourselves what the ideal lifestyle we want to lead is and if we truly believe if it is change for the better, what action we can take to improve our lives. Of course, this evaluation has to be done regularly in order to keep pace with the change in our evolving perspectives of life. Before you ask, I did assess myself and right now, I think living in India with a few trips every year to England should keep me satisfied.
It has been an emotional week of farewells, but I leave the United Kingdom with full intention to return so I will not say goodbye. Rather, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’ll be back.
Currently listening to – Atmosphere by Joy Division