As I type these words, I sit on a comfortable red couch overlooking the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. I am sitting on the 16th floor of Cinnamon Red in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, a newly built hotel from the stable of Cinnamon Group that promises elegance, intelligence and responsible luxury with style. Usually, I wouldn’t stay at the ‘so-called luxury hotel.’ If you have been following my blog for some time now- you’d know that I am more into authentic, offbeat and experiential stays. However, some how, I was determined to break this travel mode this time around and indulge in luxury.
As a dark carpet of clouds engulfs the Ocean, I wonder what made me do what I did. Why did I make a choice that is a detour from my usual repertoire. I realize, my hidden passions, secret dreams come to the fore. Sri Lanka is a truly affordable island destinations for a majority of the population in Asia- starting with the Indians. The currency valuation, definitely at work, ensures that an Indian, like me, can indulge in a bit of luxury, that we otherwise, usually see only on Instagram or Facebook.
Suddenly, a realization strikes me. Money. Money is so precious. Money is so important. Yes, someone said- Money can’t buy you happiness. But look at me. I am happy to indulge in a bit of luxury and there’s a smile on my face. Yes- probably, I am sitting alone on the couch, traveling away from family while they celebrate Diwali. I won’t like, but it does break a string of my heart, to feel may be, what a tiny little place I occupy in the Universe. May be my family doesn’t miss me and they can still celebrate Diwali. But I am still happy, sipping my morning Coffee against a foreground on one of the greatest and beautiful Oceans of the world.
Money cannot buy happiness. But money can help you buy experiences.
And that to me, this moment, seems just fine. When I look at stories by my Instagram friends across the world, I feel left out. “Why can’t I have such a life?” , my head cries out. My heart says- money is not everything. Probably. If you haven’t struggled much in life, may be money doesn’t buy happiness.
But if you have struggled in life, then money can buy experiences and that is pretty much equal to happiness. Being able to do, what you want, being able to go where you want, is happiness. And that definitely lacks on the Indian passport. I for one, have never really understood the hulahoo around weak passports. Never understood, what it meant. Till I came to Sri Lanka.
On my way back to Colombo from Ella, I was scanned by two railway officials at two different times. They couldn’t fathom the fact that I held a ticket to a first class compartment in the train, standing toe to toe, shoulder to shoulder with some of the foreign backpackers. I exactly knew what happened, but I dismissed the incident with my smile. That my friend, was my first brush with racism. That moment, I realized- money does buy entitlement. And that is next to happiness.
I come from a middle class family in India. I must acknowledge the fact, that my parents always tended to my demands. Never, have I been refused anything by my parents. But as much as my parents tended to my every demand, they couldn’t keep me away from the reality that the world is.
Now that I travel, I know the world for what it is. Today, I can acknowledge the world and myself for what we are. We are just human beings caught in a struggle of finite and infinite universes, wanting to rule, wanting to love, wanting to indulge. There is no point, brushing things as negativity or pessimism. The world is what it is. And we are what we are. I am a struggler, a fighter.
I didn’t live the American dream. I lived the Asian struggles. Travel taught me that. Travel taught me to accept the way I am. Travel taught me to accept the way world is. And that my friend, is the beauty of travel.
Despite everything, travel teaches you… “Don’t live at home.”