Kenya

This trip was not on my agenda at all. If you gave me an option to take a retreat, never in my wildest dreams would I mark out Kenya as a place to visit. In hindsight, I think that reflects my general inertia toward trips in general.

I really wanted to take a holiday at some point this semester, because I knew post February second week, I would be very exhausted, and needed a breather. Naturally, University has attempted to throw up certain hurdles such as a revised attendance policy. My parents were undeterred, and my mother planned out a seven-day vacation for the family all the way in Nairobi.

This was no easy task. It’s the middle of the year, so taking annual leave is difficult for the adults in the family. Plus, she had to cope with a child reluctant to participate in planning out the entire holiday, but with his own set of demands (wanted to see the cities I was visiting and/or bagpack/walk around places). It was a hectic time. Some verbal spats were involved. But she persevered.

My oh my, was it worth it.

I spent two days in the Maasai Mara, surrounded by wildlife and nature. A day in Lake Nakuru, with more wildlife and nature. And then two days at Mombasa on the beach.

In the middle, I met the Maara tribesmen, entered a village, partook in some dancing, and lost my luggage.

I also learnt that I enjoy photography. A lot. I have a really strange tremor that affects my hands, and usually end up taking very shaky photographs when given a phone camera. With a DSLR in my hands, that did not seem to be a problem. I think I’m going to try taking more photographs in my free time. Just walk around Ahmedabad also a little more and get some good clicks. It’s something I believe I can really enjoy.

The hospitality in Kenya was incredible and is possibly one of the things I loved about the trip. Caring comes very naturally to people. Our tour guide, James, was fabulous – in terms of understanding limitations we had as a group of vegetarians, or with my grandmother’s arthritis. Remember how I said we lost our luggage? A female taxi driver volunteered herself to go collect our luggage from the Mombasa airstrip and bring it to us at the Ukunda airstrip where we were at – which is a distance of 3 hours one-way, including a trip on a ferry.

It was incredibly heartwarming.

On the trip, apart from seeing some incredible things, I got a lot of time to reflect on things, and I’m hoping to really get into the flow of some lifestyle changes again. Especially doing charity work. I forgot how nice the art of giving makes you feel. Or generally, working toward putting a smile on someone’s face. I think I’m going to be more active about that. My aunt and mother, through their NGO donated some clothes and other material to the Maasai children, as well as children affected by HIV in Nairobi. That really touched me – I didn’t know it was an agenda on our trip at all.

All in all, a 10/10 recommendation to go to Kenya and spend time in the middle of the jungle.

I think seeing vast expanses of arid, dry land (somewhat like a scene from Lion King), makes you realize how insignificant we are. Seeing animals up close and personal – including some very natural interactions like feeding, was very, very heartwarming. It made me realize how much we sacrifice for urban development, for example, or commercialization. That’s given me a lot to think about – stuff I can’t really put into words just yet.

I’ll probably go back to work on some animal conservation project I think. Even if its just for a short time.

All this stuff was great, honestly. But what I’m most grateful for is that I got 10 uninterrupted days with my family. It’s something I cherish the most – even though I don’t quite show it as much when I am with them, I don’t think. I’ve missed out on a host of things since Grade 10 – because of exams and some academic commitment or the other. I also have workaholic genes, which provide convenient excuses to miss out on stuff. Throughout this, my family has been supportive and understanding, so to be able to go on a holiday with them was fantastic.

My last takeaway was that I got to think about my relationship with my parents a lot. There are a couple of experiences I’d like to financially be able to provide for them once I start earning, so let’s see if that plays out. They’ve managed to give me some experiences that literally make up who I am as a person, so giving that back will feel wonderful, methinks.

That’s all for today.

Finally writing again. I think I’ll start to do this more often. I missed it.

Curd rice out.

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