Jan 1st: Pondicherry + Rishikesh — Day 100
So much has happened! This post is mostly about the places I went during the last two weeks of 2017, so lots of photos and a few stories.
- Pondi is a beach town that was colonized by the French, so you can see some of their influence there. There are tons of foreigners from everywhere there and hipsters are everywhere. Talking to a dude who worked at a little food store, he told me that “Some came to visit and stayed, some wanted a place to retire, some didn’t have another option.”
- Before I left to Pondi, I decided to download the Coursera app on my phone. Turns out it's freaking awesome! I never managed to follow more than one lecture in an online class until this. Whenever I was bored or not doing anything doing the trip, I'd pull out my phone and watch some of the lectures.
- We spent Christmas there, and the holiday is not as big as I'm used to. We just went out to have dinner.
- In the middle of the trip, João and I decided we should apply to Y Combinator with one of our ideas for programming education, so we spent a whole day writing up a huge application. The chances of us getting in are tiny, but it's always worth a shot.
- Some people told me to go there and that I'd find a good mixture of a place in the hills with a spiritual vibe. This trip was solo because everyone else was their families for New Years. I didn't have any expectation, but this turned out to be one of the most amazing places I've been to.
- Rishikesh is a town at the foothills of the Himalyais, known as The Yoga capital of the world and as the Valley of the Saints.
- I got to my hostel at 5 am only to find out that I check-in was at 1 pm. I took half a nap at their café and at 7 am and then headed out to explore the city. That was the start of a +15km journey walking all over the city. I was so grateful for packing everything in one small backpack.
- The morning in Rishikesh is hectic for the locals. I saw guys guiding their donkeys through the streets, ladies guiding their goats, monkeys jumping around the buildings, and cows hanging everywhere.
- I was astonished by the beautiful view I had of the Ganges.
- I walked to the to Beatles Ashram, a place where the Beatles had one of their most productive periods. Once I got there, it was too expensive to get in, so I didn't go. From there, I saw a temple far away in the middle of the woods, and I decided I should walk there.
- When I got to the temple, a dude who worked there asked my name and my country, did some prayers, gave me some stuff to eat, some stuff to drink, tied a band around my wrist and stamped an orange trident on my forehead.
- Then I went back to my walk, where I had to go in the middle of so many cows. At some point, I was on Wikihow reading about "How to avoid or escape a bull", just in case I needed.
- After the morning walk, I got back to my hostel, The Hosteller. A huge part of my positive experience in Rishikesh was due to this hostel, so I strongly recommend it! The people are insanely cool and the hostel itself has a solid structure.
- I could go on and tell in detail how each of my 3 days in Rishikesh were, but I figure I should just stick to more general lines. So in general: I did a lot of really long walks, and that allowed me to see a lot of the place. I met so many cool people from all over India and other pars of the world, with whom I had super interesting conversations and played some music. Some of them had been there for a while! I met about 10 people who went to Rishikesh to spend a couple of days and ended up staying for weeks if not months. It's a truly magical place that reminds me of the song Hotel California: you check in any time you want, but you can never leave. The touristy part is truly beautiful and the energy is awesome. One day I ventured myself in the places that are less touristy and I eventually got to a very dirty place full of trash, where pigs, goats, kids, and adults working all shared the same space. It's important to see that and remember how messed up the world is.
- While there, João texted me saying "Yo, we should work on the programming academy before the year finishes!" That text made me super happy and confident. It's key to have a co-founder who pushes you.
- While traveling, I often asked myself: "Am I at the right place? Should I be living this life with middle to upper class 20-year-old hippie that's definitely not mine?" I haven't really gotten to any conclusions, but I think I'm learning is not an either-or issue. By that I mean, I don't think I have to either be a dude from Capão (the neighborhood where I grew up) who has to work insanely hard or a young hippie traveling around. I've been experiencing being parts of various communities, and I think I'm just adding up all of them. I'm extracting the best part of each and using that to build myself.
- I find that every time I put in some very intentional time and energy into figuring out my life, it works. During this trip, I did a lot of that, trying to answer questions such as "What should I do for the rest of the gap year?", "How can I best spend my time?", "What if everything fails?", etc. Once I stop to think about those things, I try to simplify them as much as possible, focusing on the things that truly matter (which is really hard to do).