Any meaningful journey in life begins with a succinct and detailed starting point. Mine began when I was 15. I remember fervently praying to not only my god, but to the gods of any other religion, recognized or not – that would offer me salvation from what I feared to be an imminent death at the hands of my parents. Specifically, my parents upon returning from a meeting with my 10th grade English teacher who felt that I was becoming complacent with my writing skills. She believed that I was “cruising” on my laurels rather than continuously putting in effort. Of course all this garnered barely more than a stifled yawn from the aforementioned complacent 15-year-old in question.
Hearing a bellowing screech of my name, as I flew down the stairs to greet my parents upon their return, I expected any of the following outcomes: 1) grounded for life ; 2) a stern discussion on my priorities in life; 3) banishment to my parent’s ancestral home. What I got instead was a cheery greeting from my father who said “Pack your bags Kiran, you are leaving for France in three days.”
“What?” I remarked incredulously. Although I had grown up continent hopping by my parents’ side, they never let me so much as sleep over at friend’s homes let alone travel!
“Yes, time to grow up. Time to experience the world. Your English teacher thinks you are bored in life and need to see more of the world.” My father remarked cheerfully, my mother nodding in approval by his side.
Was this really happening? Was I honestly being rewarded for being a lazy little punk? Or were my parents onto something grander? A thousand thoughts raced through my mind. I hadn’t ever even thought about traveling. I didn’t know how to pack or do laundry. In fact the only skill relevant to traveling I had ever acquired was photography at my father’s knee.
“Where am I going?” I asked my voice cracking.
“She said Geneva, the Swiss Alps, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Provence, and I believe you finish in Paris” my father offered, scrolling a list he had jotted from the brochure my teacher had offered before taking their handsomely written “payment in full” check.
Blink. Blink. Blank stare. It sounded exotic. It sounded like a movie. It did not sound like my life.
Little did I know then, it would become my life.