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From Bangalore to Bangkok

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From Bangalore to Bangkok

After a month stuck in transit and six months on the road, here are details of my journey from Bangalore to Bangkok. 

After a month stuck in transit and six months on the road, here are details of my journey from Bangalore to Bangkok. 


Wherever you go, becomes a part of you somehow. The destination is no longer a place, instead it's a new way to see things and tests our basic instinct for survival in a complex world.

It's been challenging for me to express what this part of my life has been like and I can only sum it up with the word "Journey," for there is never a journey that doesn't change you. 

There have been many times that I've felt insignificant amongst the constant chaos of the streets, powerless in front of the humbling poverty of people, useless in understanding what exactly I'm searching for on the road and simply lost in accomplishing what I thought I was set out to do.  

Since I've had more time than ever before for reflection, I decided to share some of those thoughts & conversations that I've been meditating on for the year overseas. 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE WORLD THAT MAKES US FEEL LOST?

Is it our imagination that leaves us wondering about the different realities that we are inexperienced with OR is it our ambition that pushes us to see the world in all its beauty and suffering

OR perhaps it’s through travelling the world that we truly learn who we are and then by continuing to wander the world we truly learn how to co-exist with one another as better humans.

Whatever the reason or purpose may be, being lost in the world will change you forever. 

Not all those who wander are lost. - J.R.R. Tolkien

Not all those who wander are lost. - J.R.R. Tolkien

A TRAVELER SEES WHAT THEY SEE

It's hard to imagine that I've been on the road for six months chasing the life long dream of making the world my home.

Well how exactly can six months on the road measure up?

I've slept on hard floors and cozy homes from one coast of India to next in order to learn and appreciate the story of my family's heritage and roots. 

Some nights of mine were sleepless, where I would reminisce the about home and friends I left behind in order to chase this crazy dream of mine. 

But there were more countless nights that had turned to mornings, where I toasted to life with great friends both new and old along the road in the Asian continent,

I've prioritized my time to learn about people, culture, heritage and issues in order to create more meaningfully as a storyteller and an artist who is making his mark internationally.

As a photographer I made more conversations than captures and learn the art of being present by making the switching from digital to film during part of my tour

There was early mornings wake ups that reminded me how beautiful life truly is, from seeing the sunrise across one of the great world wonders in Siemp Reap, Cambodia to attempting to run up an 11km mountain road in Chiang Mai, Thailand just because the locals said it was good luck to do so.  

I've gained more heart in my hustle by finding focus & waking up daily to spend hours training mixed martial arts from Fitness Fight Club in Bangalore to Elite Fight Club in Bangkok  

I got stuck in transit for a month in Thailand waiting for a return visa to India only to come out with a new business partnership that would help to continue building my vision for Hard Knock Leadership. 

For me my journey has been dotted with movements, memories and lessons that will forever define the way I choose to live my life. 

We can only measure a journey of a thousand miles by each single step that we take to live differently 

You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.

You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.

WHAT IS ABOUT TRAVEL TAKE MAKES US WANT TO WANDER MORE?

From the moment that I began my journey at the start of this year, I felt that returning back to settle down in the home I knew would no longer be an option for me. Once I opened my eyes to the world I could no longer turn a blind eye to the humanity that it holds.   

After a month of living in Bangkok, Thailand and splurging quite a bit in the comforts of the city of angels, I returned back to the hot summer streets of Chennai, India.

I'm mentally burnt from the months on the road so I spent three evenings running over 12k with my older cousin through the chaotic Indian streets. Dodging both moving crowds and vehicles, we navigated the concrete coastline of Southern Chennai. Running through the a smog ingested city is not paradise for runners but for me the chaos is a reality for the world that we have created. 

We would pass a number landmarks that my cousin would identify as milestones; the fish market and its mongers selling the last of their catch as their children play amongst the crates with self made toys, the low rises under construction with temporary labourers who work and live with their entire families on these sites for food and shelter. Each corner turned was the story of humanity waiting to be heard. 

We ran towards the marina overlooking the Indian Ocean, allowing the sea breeze to blow against us as a form of resistance training. A stretch of the city that seems to be slowed down by the joy of lovers, children and families who are taking a break to find their peace of mind. 

We slow down to trek past a village that dots the Southern Chennai shoreline and stop by to visit one of the fishing families who we have become close friends with.

The mother smiles at attempts to speak tamil and helps us quench our thirst with some water. Her husband pounds my fist as a greeting as his three young sons joke around playfully with my cousin. 

This is a family whom just earlier that day provided us with some of their freshest catch, a family that welcomes us into their hut daily to feed us some freshly fried fish, a family who only knows life by the sea. 

I saw their sons much younger & snapped their picture many years ago, it was a relationship I first made in 2009 but despite the years apart the love is still very much the same.

(Click here for the story of my first visit to Chennai's Fishing Villages shared on instagram) 

As we parted ways to cover the rest of our run I took a moment to pause. My eyes got lost in the wasteland of nets and boats that powers the economy of Chennai's fishing villages and I realized  

Here is life, here is reality in all its complexity and beauty and here I am with the ability to experience and share this reality with the rest of the world. 

 

Travel brings power and love back into your life - Rumi 

Travel brings power and love back into your life - Rumi 

WILL YOU TRAVEL FAR ENOUGH TO MEET YOURSELF?

I may consider myself more of a journeyer who travels with purpose and can see the world that exists rather than a tourist who sees the world he expects to see. I want to have an impact in the world as much as the world has had an impact on me

This has been one of the longest journeys on the road that I've taken and it has strengthened the principles and values that carries me today as a hard knock leader. 

The fact that I rather live in a place than just visit is a defining factor for the type of traveler I would like to be. Even if I have to return back to place many times over, building a relationship with the people and place has become more important to me that just seeing the sites are listed on the tourist route.  

It's not the road for everyone but I have chosen this as the road for me.

The question that now remains, what is the road for you?

Well whatever the road may be and wherever it may take you, I ask that you... 

travel far enough to see the world but also allow the world change you.. 

Get lost in the beauty and struggle of the world and it will make you appreciate life a little more.

Make the most out of circumstances that challenge you by making your time count 

Look back at where you have come from and realize that movement makes you more stronger and adaptable to the chaos that the world commands. 

Become humbled by the world experiences you encounter and very often it will impact your life's message.

Chase the inspiration that continues to fuel you and  you will surround yourself with the people that move you to make greatness happen.

So let your journey be your catalyst,

Let the world be you canvas,

Let movement free your soul,

AND one day perhaps we shall share our stories with the whole wide world. 


 NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

A year ago I decided to slowly start stepping away from the reality I knew in Canada to begin a new journey. Today I am miles away from where I first started, knowing that this journey is nowhere close to being done.

I asked myself if I was willing to choose a life where I could do more on my own to build a better foundation not just for me but for the communities I surrounded myself with & then took the dive.

This post was created as a travel writing piece and reflection to put into words what the last six months on the road has felt like to me before coming home for a summer in Toronto. 

Leave a comment below & share if you believe someone else would like to read this

Photo Credits goes to my Canadian creative partner in Bangkok - Rod Tasaka of Surface Collective

Photo edits & writing by @thekidsid


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A Goodbye Letter to India

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A Goodbye Letter to India

A nation's culture resides in the heart & soul of its people | Mumbai, India - Sid Naidu Photography 2015

A nation's culture resides in the heart & soul of its people | Mumbai, India - Sid Naidu Photography 2015

Dear India, 

I feel like I'm finally getting to know a bit of you, after visiting your states from Karnataka to Kerala, Goa to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu & back. You provided me with family that sheltered me with love in your cities from Bombay to Margao. You gave me a home in my parent's childhood town of Bangalore.

I know you sense some tension between us and I have to be honest that I've not yet made peace in living with you. You've told me to accept the way things are but I know your potential is more. I can't accept the way things are because it's hurting you. 

Your roads are reckless and chaotic and so it blisters your feet. Since civic responsibility has been lost to survival your hands have been tied behind your back. Your population living in poverty has become normalized and it weakens your bones. Your streets are littered with garbage and it hides your beauty. Your environment is being abused and it slows down your heartbeat. Your resources are being wasted and it drains your blood. Clashes of spiritual and state lines has divided your soul. 

So tell me why should I accept this as your reality when you deserve more. I've dreamed of the potential for positive change in the world but today I need to dream specifically for you.  

Yet despite all the difficulties you face, you've still given me one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive; the chance to start understanding the stories of my parents. You have allowed me to learn about how they grew up during a time when you were young and free and you've allowed me to accept their life story as part of my own legacy.

This alone has made all the difference for me.     

So I've come to understand that it must have been your plan all along. To let me live with your challenges so you could bring me closer to you. To simply be in the shared reality that our people face & help me make sense of my own stance in being the change I wish to see. 

I've been pondering here quite a lot and there is some truth in my thinking. 

If I was a storyteller, how could I truthfully tell the stories of others if I cannot not speak of my own story of the land from where my ancestors came from and to the roots from which I grew. 

If I was an artist, how could I meaningfully without learning how and what my culture had created before me, with the detailed heritage that influenced many generations but also got lost in the pages of history. 

If I was a community builder, how could I significantly raise a generation without living amongst the obstacles and barriers that the youth battle with in our vast world of complexities. 

So thank you India

For sharing with me your rich history and culture that is still a mystery to many, for making me uncomfortable by the chaos that you command, for challenging me to not accept your flaws as forever. 

You've humbled me on more than one occasion and showed me the complex simplicity of life here. 

I might be packing my bags to leave but this is not goodbye India, this is I’ll see you see later. 

Thank you India for the months that you have carried me through. 

Note from the author

A year ago I decided to slowly start stepping away from the reality I knew in Canada to begin a new journey. Today I am miles away from where I first started, knowing that this journey is nowhere close to being done.

I asked myself if I was willing to choose a life where I could do more on my own to build a better foundation not just for me but for the communities I surrounded myself with & then took the dive.

This post was created as a short travel writing piece to close my travels in India over the last four months of 2015. 

Leave a comment below & share if you believe someone else would like to read this.

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Defining India

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Defining India

When I decided to leave Toronto, I left knowing that there is more for me to do in this world. I had accomplished many things   through my work as a community leader and knew it was my time to dig deeper by chasing those dreams built of possibility and potential. I've always longed to make the world my home and I knew that in order for me to accomplish more, I would need to fulfill the life goal of exploring the word first. 

When I decided to leave Toronto, I left knowing that there is more for me to do in this world. I had accomplished many things through my work as a community leader and knew it was my time to dig deeper by chasing those dreams built of possibility and potential. I've always longed to make the world my home and I knew that in order for me to accomplish more, I would need to fulfill the life goal of exploring the word first. 

It's been almost two months and over 12,000 miles traveled since I left Toronto in search for something greater. I've had numerous friends both congratulate my decision and share their envy with me. A few more provided their well wishes for me to find what I'm looking for on this year long (and possibly longer) journey. Yet the honest truth is that I don't even quite know what I'm looking for by leaving home.  

I've tried to make sense of it many times over by pondering upon what I hope to gain from living overseas but always feel like I'm coming up short when trying to piece together the mixed feelings that are running through my mind. So in order capture and share these moments of deep thought while on the road I've decided to create a new blog for 2015 that provides an outlet for dialogue on my travels as a hard knock leader. 

This is me defining the journey. 

Have you ever felt like there was something more to life than the way you've been living? 

When I decided to leave Toronto, I left knowing that there is more for me to do in this world. I had accomplished many things through my work as a community leader and knew it was my time to dig deeper by chasing those dreams built of possibility and potential. I've always longed to make the world my home and I knew that in order for me to accomplish more, I would need to fulfill the life goal of exploring the world first.     

During my past travels I've always aimed to learn about the realities that exist in the world by being a part of the solution rather than the problem. Finding solutions requires one to be fully aware about the issues that differ from region to region. This is the type of work that requires one to be closer to the ground by experiencing the realities instead of just reading about them. If I really wanted to make an impact on the places I touch down in, I would require to be there for a longer time. 

This journey is about realizing change. 

 

Change should always starts with yourself, it starts at home. There is a lot of people who want to change the world but perhaps not enough who start in their own backyard. For me returning to India to learn about this land was a must. It is a land that is my heritage and one that I've been disconnected from for far too long. 

The beat of India is like magic and chaos; a forceful undercurrent to its incredible history, humbling poverty and the new age developments around every corner. It's a land where countless religions, languages, cultures and identities all come together. My journey start here, in my ancestral land, where I focus on the stories and issues of people that exemplify and define the unique power of what it means to be a part of the world’s largest democracy.

Starting my journey with India as a destination was necessary for me to understand part of my own cultural heritage. Families migrate to Canada to provide a better future for their children but how often do young people create the opportunity to return to their families home and learn about the future of their parent's past. 

Capturing the Streets of India 

Capturing the Streets of India 

Here is an excerpt from one of my first instagram posts documenting my journey to India 

I'm living a couple of blocks from St Charles, a school my father attended in his childhood. As kids they nicknamed this area Harlem, it was an uncharted territory of turfs reserved for a simple life.
The only way to enter is by passing through the underpass of a flyover that seems to marginalize these neighbourhoods even more. Underneath you will see another world come alive with vendors, auto drivers, bikers & dwellers moving around in the shadows. The loafers I walk around in may only last another month or two on the broken down dirt roads.
The air is thick with enough dust to power a sand storm in the desert. The odour of burning ashes is waste management. Garbage is a problem here & every abandoned space is a dumping ground, there is not much care to pick up the litter and trash bins are a rare sight. It took me three weeks before I saw a lorry come by collect & shift through the ashes and trash.
Water does not run freely in most homes throughout the day and often must be rationed. Pollution and population are understated words. Solitude is a luxury and privilege not often found in this concrete jungle.
Welcome to the new world. Hopes & Dreams Still Live Here

I never expected the road to be smooth, luxurious or comfortable. This environment can be harsh and the realities even harder. Yet people still survive here and make do with what they have. Here you find the stories of survival at its most realest. Here you find the story of humanity.  

This journey is about understanding identity.

 

A large part of my time on the road will be dedicated towards my freelance work as a photographer & community organizer 

A large part of my time on the road will be dedicated towards my freelance work as a photographer & community organizer 

In the last two months I've covered a lot of grounds but not without its challenges. The hardest adjustment for me on the road is finding a flow allows me to be as productive as I was on home turf. For me staying busy is what keeps me sane even if the pace of the country is different. I needed strong reasons to make this journey worthwhile, so I gave myself work that is worth committing to while on the road. 

Part of this work is community building, part of it is selflessness. I'm learning about the movements that are redrawing India and the many change makers behind them. I'm looking at the different problems, searching for the answers and probing the possibility of collective solutions. As always I ask how my work will engage audiences that have been deemed disengaged, those who are seen as marginalized and underprivileged in a place where survival becomes a daily task.

Part of this work is artistic, part of it is self engagement. I've immersed myself in the arts & culture scene here in by spending time learning about traditional art styles and paying homage to creative works in both local museums & international arts festival from Kerala to Mumbai. I'm looking to create bodies of photographic work that are influenced by my ancestral lands and one that can find a home here, I'm looking to create art for social change. 

My freelance work as a photographer & community organizer is what I'm hoping will help fund my time on the road but more importantly its what I hope will make this journey more meaningful. 

This journey is about finding purpose

 

While the truth is that I may not entirely know what I'm searching for on this year long journey, what I do know is that I will find a richer life at the end of it. Not the type of riches that accumulates in your bank account until you retire but instead the profits that are gained from the life experiences of living differently and learning all over again. 

So for my family, friends, colleagues, readers and fellow journeyers; I ask you how will you let your journey define your life?


The journey is a new blog of the Hard Knock Leadership initiative: sharing stories from taking the road less traveled

Comment with thoughts & share with others if you've enjoyed this read.

If you are interested in learning about ways to define your own journey as a Global advocate  

Contact: hardknockleader@gmail.com

 

 

 

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