My Indian Pad

I moved to India and I finally got a place. I negotiated to rent the top floor room of a usually crowded working women’s hostel and it’s alright. As in alllright – not just OK. I was startled to find out at 5am the next morning it’s right next to a mosque.

I sleep on a hard mattress on the floor. I shower out of a bucket filled from the only running faucet. I wash my clothes by hand over a stone slab. The extent of my furniture is an ugly steel bookcase and a broken plastic chair. I cook from my mini Trangia and own a nice set of stainless steel crockery for one.

I complete most activities on the floor; hanging out, cooking, stretching and looking at the glow-in-the-dark stars on the roof, courtesy of the previous tenant. Apart from my mattress there are 3 rolled out woven bamboo mats covering the bare tiles. I try to get around the room jumping from one to the other like little islands – lest I get swept out to sea by the torrents running between them.

I’ve got a terrace. It’s good for breakfast and hanging out my washing. In the mornings and most evenings math tutoring takes place on the adjacent-terrace-cum-open-air-classroom. I listened for fun for a few days but quickly got bored – as I’m sure most of the students are too.

I have daily battles with common household pests. Those ants get into everything – score currently stands at 3-0. But I’m looking at options for retaliation. A large bug decided to go swimming in my shower bucket – I liberated him outside my bathroom window. I’ve got a mosquito net but it lives on my bookcase so I sleep cocooned in a sheet instead. I’d prefer it if the geckos talked and I just leave the cockroaches to their own devices.

The area’s pretty quiet. On my morning exploration missions I pass by wandering cows and goats, the other day I saw a donkey. From early dawn local ‘wallahs’ pop up vending their goods – dosa batter, fruit, milk, yoghurt, tea, coffee, the local paper and jasmine and roses which I buy to put in my hair. Coconut trees line the streets and houses are a pretty variety of faded pastels. When it rains there’s varying options for aquatic sport activities in the street – although it’s best try not to think about the sketchy sewerage situation.

All-in-all it feels kind of like camping. Which is good because it’s one of my preferred pastimes. Only now I do it everyday.

‘Life’s an adventure because that’s the way I live it.’ – Amber Adams

¿James Que Pasa?


Deciding to embark on a journey, which I had heard about long before I knew what it was called, found myself chasing my shadow and yellow arrows hundreds of kilometers across the north of Spain along a pilgrim route little known in the nearly-antipodes of my own home country Australia. As I looked out the window of a plane amidst another journey I felt a strong curiosity about the date – 18th of September. Quickly locating one of my many tattered journals I’ve kept along the way – I think this is number 6 – I flick back through my musings to see that it’s exactly two years since I set out to start the pilgrimage. I guess this should be an opportune moment for reflection. 

My route began on 18th September 2011 in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port just over the frontier with the Pyrenees in France walking along the Camino Francés passing through Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, Ponferrada reaching Santiago and continuing to the Atlantic Ocean over 34 days, covering more than 870 kilometers.

‘The way’ is to Santiago or better known as the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James). Traditionally ‘your’ camino begins at the foot of your home door as you make your pilgrimage by foot to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in the northwestern corner of Spain to receive your compostela. The route has existed for thousands of years receiving many pilgrims. Times of hardship such as the Black Death in the Middle Ages and political unrest in the 16th century with the Protestant Reformation meant that by the middle 1980’s less than 1000 pilgrems were arriving at Santiago annually compared with 180,000 in 2010 and over 270,000 in the Holy year of 2009.

Somewhere along the way