Thursday, December 22, 2011

I got it figured out, I got it figured out

"When a person says, in a foreign place, "I feel right at home here," he is making a statement about the nature of travel, not in the texture of the place he is in. I don't belittle this sort of travel, which I regard as Traveling As A Version Of Being At Home; but it is wrong to mistake it as the sort of travel that allows a person to make discoveries." - Paul Theroux

So travel may be a journey to "find a city, find myself a city to live in." I think a year ago I was bullish on this prospect; I thought there might be oases of urban prosperity like Seattle the whole world around. I pictured myself hunkering down in, I dunno, Amritsar, and trying to make some work as if I were at home. Hang out in 10 different homes over 10 months, make myself an insider in 10 different places, and thus broaden my life while keeping some depth.

Now I'm not so sure! I think there are a couple cities in India I could live in, and only with some stress. Dharamsala comes to mind first, Darjeeling second, and Bangalore third. The first two are romantic pipe dreams where I awaken to mountain vistas and Buddhist chants, churn out some code for a few hours, eat a delicious meal or three, and occasionally go for a hike. But I already get cranky when I can't work well; daily internet/power/water cuts, lack of computer parts within twelve hours' drive, and the slow Indian pace of life would drive me nuts. And let's not kid ourselves; there's not a big market for computer scientists in Dharamsala.

As another option, I could head for a tech hub like Bangalore. That'd bring a big IT job market and infrastructure, but I'd have to accept all the soul crushing of the Silicon Valley tech world times twelve. Suburban office megaplexes, huge commutes, and no walkability make Dan a dull boy.

We haven't even mentioned monsoons or cockroaches! I think India is not a place I want to live in.

Not the ultimate point of my trip (travel is about changing yourself in reaction to places, not molding places to fit you or discarding them otherwise), but nice to know.


  1. mmm monsoons and cockroaches.
    interesting post.

  2. geebee is my new name - for grandma bays-and i am learning to post comments.
    very interesting post....
    i read your posts all the time!

  3. we are missing you here at christmas. where are you now?

  4. Hi Grandma- thanks! Good to hear from you. (I mean, good to hear from you too, Cheryl :)

    And Helix- I'm in Kochi, Kerala now. Southwest bit of the country. It feels a little like Florida. I'll be here for the next couple days. I miss you guys too! (I mean, I think. I've lost track of the pseudonyms- who are you again?)

  5. Ha. Helix was fka Helicopter, if that helps. And Mr. T is, well, Mr. T, fool.
    Glad you're back in more comfortable places.
    We were imagining what it must be like to be in India at Christmas; no trees, no holly jolly Christmas in the malls, but then, no family gatherings either.
    Take care.

  6. I wasn't thinking it when I started, but I'm thinking about living elsewhere now, mainly because Singapore was so amazing. I don't think I'm going to go back to live in the US. I think it'd be nice to cycle between tech hubs and relaxing laid back paradises. For example, I could live in Singapore for a couple months, spend a couple weeks in Pai, then move on to another tech hub.

    Right now I'm sitting in a hammock on the beach in Koh Chang listening to the waves and working on building a website. It's pretty nice, but I definitely wouldn't be able to live so isolated without other productive people around me for very long.

    I'm kind of thinking of this trip with Raph (and you soon!) as scoping out places I want to stay in longer at some point.

    Maybe India just isn't your style? I think you should check out some of the other tech hubs at some point - maybe Singapore will make you think differently?

  7. That's possible. Moving to a place like Singapore would definitely solve a lot of the infrastructure problems. But if I were moving to a new place every so often, I think I'd feel isolated both socially and work-wise. The work thing would be a big deal for me right now (as I need to start even finding out what I want to work on) but that might get easier; the social thing would always be tough, I think.