England, bikes, and the complexity of chasing the dream

By | December 9, 2016

In case you didn’t know, I am in the United Kingdom right now. As much as I’d like to take credit for this achievement, it had absolutely nothing to do with me. My wife works in IT, and she’s here for an onsite assignment, and I joined the party as a dependent.

I’m writing this from a beautiful hotel room that overlooks the Milton Keynes marina. There are boats outside, and white swans, and beautiful exhaust notes of fast cars and big bikes. We’ll sadly have to move out of this place in a few days to a more permanent temporary home, but I’m sure that’ll be an experience in itself.

This article is in parallel with Shumi’s latest opinion, in the sense that it looks at the complexities of the act of “Chasing the dream”. The content of his post, and more so the title, does not give enough stress on the fact that not only is the process of finding “the dream” an extremely difficult one, even when you do happen to find something to chase, the end of the chase, and the chase itself, may end up being entirely different from what you’d imagined. A simple example would be fact that what Shumi is doing with his life is a dream worth chasing for a lot of other people, and yet the thoughts of someone in his position invariably go towards doing something else.

This article is also meant to be a place where I’ll try to organize my thoughts about what I should do here with the limited time that I have. On a deeper level, this is an attempt to understand the Things vs. Experiences debate, and to really grasp the complexity of this thought train, especially when it crosses tracks with money.

I apologize in advance if this post becomes too abstract, too intricate or too weird, I’ve been watching too many books and videos about philosophy lately, and although I believe they are helping me better understand the world and myself, they do tend to use too much jargon, and sometimes feel a bit elitist, which breeds in you this feeling that your knowledge of this knowledge makes you better than others, which it doesn’t.

As always, I’ll now try to break down my thought process into small, digestible parts, which by the end of this piece should hopefully bless us with a pleasing, heart-warming brain fart.

The situation

I am not certain how much time I have in this country, but it’s safe to assume that it’ll be roughly 3 months. My visa is actually for 11 months, but I can’t really expect to stay back here and chug chilled, sparkling beer with my English pals, while my wife flies back home, works, and pays for the aforementioned chilled, sparkling beer.

This is probably the worst time to be in England as far as the weather goes. The temperature outside drops below zero at night, snowfall should start sometime soon, and it’s just a generally foggy, wet, miserable time to be here.

My wife leaves for office around 9 in the morning, and comes back by 8 at night. My job is to provide moral support, take care of any tasks outside the office, and basically just be around. This means that I have plenty of free time, which is a good or a bad thing, depending on perspective.

The options

Since I have so much free time, I could do a number of things. The problem begins when you start comparing one of those things with the others, and then can’t decide what should be done and for what reason. The main assumption here is that I don’t want to use my wife’s Pounds, anything that I spend for myself must be earned by me.

Option 1: Just write

As of this moment, I have 31 different article and video ideas that I could pursue and finish. Yes, that’s thirty one distinct article and video ideas. Based on my normal routine of writing 3 articles a week, this should be enough material for more than 2 months, which should get extended even further as new ideas join the queue.

Advantages:

  1. A giant clearing of backlog, extremely OCD satisfying.
  2. A big help to my online revenue, which could use all the fucking help in the world.
  3. An overall growth as a writer, by spending a few months in pursuit of pure writing.

Disadvantages:

  1. Boring, majority of the time would be spent in front of this stupid laptop.
  2. No real chance of travel around UK or around, since travel needs money, and I won’t be making any.
  3. Distinct possibility of all that time spent to be good for nothing, in terms of the advantages above.

Option 2: Drive a cab

This is something I’ve wanted to do since a long time, to experience what it feels like to be a taxi driver. There could be no better place to try it, the roads here are unbelievably beautiful, the road sense even more so. From what I’ve read and seen, it’s not too bad money wise either, but nothing spectacularly good.

Advantages:

  1. An incredible opportunity to really understand the people of England.
  2. An incredible opportunity to really understand the roads of England.
  3. Money.

Disadvantages:

  1. Requires big initial investment, most cab drivers here own the cars they drive, which is important if you want to do it part-time only.
  2. Requires investment in time, money and effort to secure the necessary licenses and medical certificates.
  3. All this investment might be in vain if I get only a few days of driving to do.

Option 3: Work at restaurant, gas station, or shop

Another one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, it would be quite easy to get it done here. There’s such a huge lack of manpower in this country that any place you go to perpetually has a “Help Wanted” sign in front of it. The money is rather OK too, especially when converted to Indian Rupees, although it can be a bit dangerous to think of it that way.

Advantages:

  1. Guarantee of some interesting experiences.
  2. Money.
  3. Small chance of a life-changing change in perspective towards life by character development through a menial job.

Disadvantages:

  1. Greatly reduced chances of travel.
  2. Possibility of chewing more than I can swallow.
  3. Lack of availability to wifey.

Option 4: Pick up a bicycle and ride around

This is the option I’m inclined towards the most at the moment. I could pick up a super cheap cycle, like the shittiest one front some yard sale or from a dumpster, and then ride it through UK, Isle of Man, Ireland and Scotland, maybe even some parts of Europe, while surviving on goodness of mankind and a lot of couch surfing.

Advantages:

  1. Exploration at its best, slow, intimate, and a bit stupid.
  2. Big opportunity to see the life and understand the people in a post-Brexit UK.
  3. Cheap, when not free.

Disadvantages:

  1. Weather conditions might lead to serious complications, things that I am not even aware of, far from being prepared for.
  2. Extremely demanding physically, not sure if a fat fuck like me would be up for it.
  3. No time for wifey.

Option 5: Dedicate this time to books, learning, and knowledge

I currently have pending 8 audio books, 1 physical book, and millions of Youtube videos, it would be so easy to just sit back and try to finish some of them. I have recently developed interest in 2 main fields, philosophy and psychology, and the time that I have could be used in scratching the surfaces of these 2 massive icebergs.

Advantages:

  1. A beautiful opportunity to understand Plato, Kant and CBT in the serenity of Milton Keynes.
  2. Wifey should be very happy, if a bit confused by my attempts to psychoanalyze her.
  3. Possible growth as a human.

Disadvantages:

  1. Not something that can’t be done back in India, feels like a wasted opportunity to be in a different country and just read books.
  2. No money = No travel.
  3. Small chance of getting infected by a harmful idea and destroying my life.

Option 6: A combination

There could be a sort of middle path between these options, but I’m scared that I’d end up doing none of them rather than both of them. For example, I could combine writing with either working at a restaurant or reading about philosophy, however, I have realized over time that I need a clear mind and a lot of free time before ideas start converting into alphabets, although that is something I’d like to change.

Advantages:

  1. A chance to experience different things in a limited amount of time.
  2. To earn a bit of money while getting time for other things too.
  3. A good balance between personal goals and wifey’s happiness.

Disadvantages:

  1. Small chance of success, based on previous experiences.
  2. Might end up spreading myself too thin and feeling unsatisfied with the overall results.
  3. Will require planning, will power, and hard work, none of which I excel at.

In case you are wondering why I’m not thinking of doing something around motorcycles, there are a number of reasons for that.

First off, motorcycles need money, to buy and then run, along with riding gear, and I don’t have money.

Second, any plans to ride around in the upcoming weather are simply suicidal. Even if I do buy heated gear somehow, it’ll all be useless back in India.

Third, I do not want to be restricted towards the places I can see by my means of transport. This needs elaboration, which I don’t want to give.

Fourth, motorcycles are too fast for the kind of travel that I’d like to do here. England is a small country, you can technically “see” it all in a single day of riding.

Fifth, I did try to get a job at a motorcycle shop, showroom, website over here, just to be close to bikes, but none of them wanted me.

Sixth, and most importantly, I would like to stay away from bikes for a bit. They are brilliant, but life is about more than just two wheels.

Things vs. Experiences and the money problem

In case you didn’t notice this while we went through the options mentioned above, the basic question seems to be this.

Should my time, money, and effort be invested in acquiring more things, or should it be invested in gaining more experiences?

The answer is quite difficult to find out, mainly because a majority of the time experiences require things, and many things can also give you experiences. You may also have noticed that in every option, money plays a big role. I’m not saying that money is essential for all experiences, but it is an undeniable fact that a large majority of experiences require at least some level of monetary investment.

It is very easy to say that you shouldn’t worry about shiny things, that you should always choose experiences. It is also very easy to say that as a whole, your path in life should be one of moderation, something that lets you enjoy things, pay for experiences, and still save something for the future. The problem with both of these ideas is that they, like Shumi’s article, are very general, and do not consider the depth of the thoughts and the difficulty of choice that follows.

It is also very easy to say that this entire article is an exercise in massive overthinking, and I would agree with you on that. More often than not, the final choice that you end up making seems so logical, that you wonder why you were worried with other options to begin with. However, I enjoy the process of contemplation, I like organizing my thoughts, no matter how useless that might be in the long run.

My understanding of the nuances of the things vs. experiences argument aren’t fully developed yet, hence I’ll let them run their course and write something when I am able to put into words the fleeting thoughts as they are right now.

The brain fart

Thinking such thoughts can be a bit depressing, but there are also other thoughts that make you feel happier.

For example, yes it’s sad that I’m in a foreign country and wasting my time writing shit articles that make no sense, but I’m also happy that I’m not here as a student under debt. It is sad that I would have to compromise on outright travel if I want to make money for travel, but it’s good that I at least have the choice, unlike a lot of people with kids and dependent parents.

I’m happy, and that’s all that matters.

  • Gaurav Chopra

    choices,choices and more choices-exactly what most of us face all the time-and in your case in current situation,not one is regrettable-so go on an have a life

    • Akhil Kalsh

      True 🙂

  • Vishnu Kumar

    Haha trying to squeeze out the maximum in the limited time 😀
    When I was onsite last year, it was supposed to be for 3 months. So me and my colleagues were like, let’s rest initially and we can visit places later on.. we were too lazy after one week’s work that the weekend we used to laze at home and walk to nearby places. We used to visit one place every 2 weekends, the other weekend being lazily sitting at home and watching movies on the laptop..
    Then, a month and a half into the internship, we were being sent back (because the main project that we were supposed to work hadn’t come and it was too expensive to keep us there for longer). Initially I was very happy, in 2 or 3 days I could go home ! But then it hit me, so many beautiful places were there nearby and I couldn’t visit them! All it took was a simple bus ride to and fro (well connected public transport) and we never did it. We were planning to visit these natural formations like caves and forests and stuff, hence it wouldn’t be that expensive. But, sadly, postponing it meant ultimately we couldn’t go..
    So yeah I regret it even now. If you want a suggestion, it would be to go to nearby places which have bus connectivity.. like some rock formations or national parks.. the buse fares are reasonable and they aren’t as jam packed as the ones that ply on our roads.. even the journey itself is through country sides and you get these Epic views of large farmlands and stuff. And also, Some stunning views and greenery you can get in national parks . Don’t regret that you couldn’t visit the places later on, when your back in India. I still do :/

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Makes a lot of sense.

  • Dr Kanishq

    I distinctly remember when I was about be broken into halves amidst an excruciating internship where I had to work 48 hours straight twice a week for six months – In medicine wards and emergency surgery.
    Then I just took off one day, with a measly sum of one stipend of 7000rs in my pockets, and packed the spares, few books and boxers in the tailbag.
    I rode aimlessly for a couple weeks, shamelessly stayed at places of people I barely knew and ate in the shittiest looking local restaurants.Whenever I saw an agreeable pond, a plush tree, I stopped, opened up the book and read as much. Even wrote a few things.
    I’m sharing this because I think that to combine a little of everything tends out very well in pinchy situations like these.
    Motorcycles, yes, brilliant but sometimes they can be a little too fast for our concurrent cognitive speed. Biycle is just the set of two wheels which matches that one. Packing a few books again, and cycling away to places in UK is a wet dream for me.

    I hope you find the answers to the questions you’re having and find even more questions worth finding answers for.

    🙂

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Thanks man 🙂

  • Doga

    Wow! a bit rare to have a husband as a dependent.You lucky guy!
    you say roughly 3 months but from my experience of these onsite assignments 3 months become 6 then 12 , so on and so forth. In my case the initial 6 months is now 2 years and may be an year more lol!
    Btw didn’t see buy a bike and ride around as an option. That should be the first option and in your case should be a no brainer since your Indian license can be used for an year from the date of arrival, plus you are not in god forsaken London as I was so it makes ‘sense’.
    You ride left here as well, so makes even more sense no?
    Only problem is rental-renting a bike on an Indian license would be a tough job plus like every service here would be expensive.So ny suggestion would be, just buy a very high mileage Ninja 250 or may be even a 1998 -1999 hornet 600. The hornet will be cheaper and 30000 Plus mileage ones may be ~£1000. Work out the per diems vs outlay calculation and you should be good 🙂
    I am in Bournemouth so not far from you btw, so if you fancy a cup of coffe together and my circumstances permit can ride down some weekend!

    • Akhil Kalsh

      I’m not too keen on getting a motorcycle just yet for many reasons. I don’t have a thousand pounds for a beat up Ninja 250 🙂 Even if I did, I’d have to get gear as well, and heated one, which’ll not be cheap either, not to mention useless when I go back to India.

      There’s an event happening at Goodwood in March, if I’m here by that time, I’ll come over, and that’s quite close to your location. Please send me a message on Facebook, if we are connected there.

      • Doga

        Hmm.now that I think of it getting a beat up Ninja or Hornet doesn’t make much sense given the cost of insurance. First of all very few would be willing to cover you on an Indian license and the small number which do would give you awful quotes.
        The best thing for you to do is then(sorry I keep on giving advice) get a provisional driving license from DVLA(£30-£40 something)do a CBT course-1 day costing ~£100- and then buy a rusty old 125 cc(duke 125 or a yamaha YBR 125), slap an L plate on it and ride around. That way you have a UK(provisional)license and looking at insurance of ‘only’ £300-500 range.
        Or just shop around for a good rental company in London who are willing to accept a foreign license 🙂
        Oh and you don’t need heated gear mate, at least not where you are.Milton keynes is barely midlands and though it gets cold there not as cold to get heated gear.Gear with a lining will be fine and shop around on ebay to get very cheap deals, sometimes for less than what you’d get in India
        Goodwood is nice but mostly cars though.I’ll try to look you up on fb and send a pm.I use the same handle on xbhp if you have an account there btw…
        Good luck and enjoy your time in the UK.Cheers!

        • Akhil Kalsh

          That makes sense.

          I’m not on Xbhp 🙂