As the title so very clearly indicates – I am heading to India!
To my surprise, getting a visa for the country wasn’t as straightforward as I imagined! Having worked in the field of immigration, I was aware of how complex these proceedings can get, but had not anticipated waiting to receive the result of my application for a worryingly long time.
So I didn’t allow myself to get excited or even make any concrete plans until I had that lovely sticker in my passport… and now we’ve been sorting everything at lightning pace to be ready for our adventure which starts on Monday!
We are very lucky to have some amazing friends living in Delhi. Knowing that we will be greeted upon arrival by friendly faces is so reassuring. We have not yet heard one consistent view of what to expect in this vast country, but what we certainly gathered is that we should expect the unexpected. Therefore we’ve so far packed our open minds and of course lots of Imodium!
I realised recently that it’s been more than 6 months since I’ve had my last Real Monday… In many ways, it feels much longer than that. Not one Monday has been the same ever since and I’ve come to love the unpredictability of it all.
Recent developments on the professional front have given me even more confidence in the “No Plan Plan”. It seems that the hardest and scariest part is to make the choice to take a different path… but once that is done, everything kind of falls into place and opportunities arise.
I hope that we can continue sharing this journey together in the months to come! And I hope you enjoy reading about our journey to India! Of course – lots of pics and impressions to come in the following weeks!
I didn’t want to leave without finishing my little assignment on my favourite books, so here is one more portrait and a few other of my favourite books.
I read Gabrielle Roy’s “La Petite Poule d’Eau” (Where Nests the Water Hen) in high school during a time where my view of education was shifting from a burdensome chore to a way out… a ticket to something better.
In her book, Gabrielle paints a soft image of rural life in the Canadian prairies. A life where without education, the potential aims of children become limited to the few trades available to them.
The story is beautifully simple. But what struck me the most is the author’s own story. Gabrielle Roy was a French Canadian author from Manitoba. Youngest of eleven children, she successfully completed her schooling and became a teacher. With her wages, she helped the family through the hardest years of the Depression and continued progressing in her field. A secure job during those uncertain times was rare…
But Roy surprised everyone by quitting her very safe job and then moving abroad to follow her passion for writing. She risked in all despite resistance from her family, the uncertainty of what lay ahead and a crippling economy… A massive risk that paid off grandly in the end.
Roy is to this day celebrated as a massively influential author and her books are often studied in school… and inevitably, the ink that she bled in such difficult circumstances has had positive ripple effects on people of a completely different generation. And that, to me, is true genius.
And here is my ode to Ms Roy with ink and pastel.
Below, you will also find a non-exhaustive list of other books that have inspired me through the years.
Happy reading everyone!
Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali (A Sunday at the pool in Kigali), by Gil Courtemanche. A violently real account of the events that shook Rwanda in 1994. Having met the enigmatic Mr. Courtemanche in person, I felt even more attached to this powerful read. The book was eventually adapted for the big screen.
O dwóch takich co ukradli księżyc (The two who stole the moon), by – Kornela Makuszyńskiego. This is the first book I can remember. My mother read it to us when we were tiny and I feverishly awaited bedtime to hear the next chapter. When the story ended, I felt like I had lost two good friends. All three of us, mother, sister and I, cried when she read the last page. In the story, two troublemaker brothers who shy away from work go on an expedition to catch and steal the moon… You can imagine what hilarity ensued!
The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. A powerful call for each individual to re-discover our creative selves. Week after week, the book guides the reader towards an acceptance of our artistic selves. It was a paramount tool in my journey toward making the decision to change course in my life and I highly recommend it to anyone, even if you’ve never picked up a paintbrush in your life.
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I have mixed feelings about this book. Its Christian tone may seem a bit unappealing to some, but the core message resonated with me when I read it. I would say that for the most part, it’s a very inspirational book for anyone. You just need to take it with a grain of salt (…pun!)
Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo. I reluctantly chose this book for an assignment in school. Reluctantly because I was in a Stephen King-ish phase and this long French tale seemed like a bore. But I absolutely devoured it and aced my presentation on it. The genius with which Hugo was able to paint a scene left me in awe.
How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric. Thinking of a career change? Need some intelligent and compelling encouragement? – get this book. Read it, underline it and re-read it. Then buy 10 copies and give it to your friends. It’s amazing. The catalyst in my decision to steer in a different direction.
The Sorrows of Young Werther, by Goethe. If there is one book that made me want to drop everything, rent an attic room in Paris, start chain-smoking and drinking wine at 10 am while pondering the foibles of life it was Young Werther… I mean that in a positive way of course! The book has nothing to do with Paris and wine at 10, but it’s that kind of book. If you’ve read “that kind of book” you probably know what I meant. If not, just ignore me and read it anyway 🙂
Walden, by Thoreau. I read Walden while fantasising about living in a tiny house striving to be self-sufficient. To me, that kind of life seems of the purest kind. In a pursuit of such purity, a man abandons (almost completely) the comforts of “modern life”, retires to the woods, lives simply and writes. His day is punctuated by the schedules of nature and the deadlines of the rhythms of his own body. Simply writing this has relaxed me and reminded me that all is well in life. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants more of the fiery red sunsets on lakes and less of the fiery red lights in traffic jams…
Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse. Another one of those “10 am wine in an attic apartment full of cigarette smoke” kind of books. A contemplative spiritual journey that will leave you craving for more. Hesse’s honest and somewhat autobiographical account of the search for truth is rich in poetry and time for reflection.
and if like me, after reading it you are still craving for more there is…
Steppenwolf, by Mr Hesse again. Written at a time of personal crisis for the author, Steppenwolf is equally as mad as it is mystical. It draws you in and revolts you at the same time. It’s like the German 1920ies answer to sex drugs and rock and roll… kind of.
L’Art de la Simplicité (The Art of Simplicity), by Dominique Loreau. Declutter your life, simplify your days, enjoy the moment. Read the book and learn how to!
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. If you’re like me and love to hop in a dusty car and hit the road to nowhere, you will love this book. I read it during a time of travel drought and was just bursting with anticipation for my next trip when I put it down. A real classic that seems to keep its freshness and relevance despite the passing of time.
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. A strong story of family, pride and village life in Nigeria. The richness of local customs and sometime brutal beliefs are suddenly marred by the intrusion of colonisation. This is a man’s story, but seems to be all men’s story as well.
The Millenium Series, by Stieg Larsson. Simply could not put them down.
Of course there are countless other books that have been my faithful temporary companions through the years. On the bus, on the train, with tea in bed, on the couch with snacks, in the park, on the beach and anywhere else where the mind can wander.
What’s great about books is that they can be very fruitful distractions in sedentary moments, they can inspire new horizons or provide an escape. They teach, influence and help create new worlds… but most of all, they smell damn good.
Signed – a bibliophile 🙂