Such an elegant word isn’t it?
I think most people look for it at some point in their lives, and conform to a path of least resistance and call it purpose. I been looking for it for some time. I think we as a species have been looking for it for a while too. Aristotle got kind of famous by writing about it. But I am at that point in a young adults life where the entire world is calling me to explore and an entire barrage of societal pressures are asking me to do things which are the “norm”.
This is a revolt. Against the “norms”
Welcome to Footienomads and if you are reading this, I hope, using this blog, I can add value to you in some way.
Defining “I” is the difficult part.
Act 1- THE SETUP
I was on a bus from Chennai to Ernakulam. Chennai cause that is where my college is. Indian Institute of Technology Madras ( Ok, that caught the attention of high schoolers and their parents). Ernakulam because that is where I live. Before IIT, I spend 18 years of my life there. Then one April night the results for an exam called HSEE( Humanities and social sciences entrance exam ) came.
It set in motion all of things which are about to happen over the course of this project.
That is what I study- Humanities. ( I know, humanities in IIT?, trust me, my thoughts too).
Yadukrishnan P, Seat J25, Orange travels.
You can call me Yadu btw, :p.
It was a window seat and the Chennai heat had made my T-shirt damp and itchy, that the guy siting next to me was visibly uncomfortable. I was too, but not with the itch in my armpits. But with an idea which had infected my mind. A thought which was troubling me for a few weeks.
Come the business end of my 1st year at IIT. I was asking myself.
“What value have I added to myself in one year?”
What all things have I done which I could be truly proud about, how have I impacted someone else for the better and most important of all, was I truly happy at where I was.
This set in motion an emotional rollercoaster which was making things look grim. I was in a college of my choice, met a lot of people who I called friends and traveled around a bit. Life was happening, but it was hollow. It was not fulfilling. Classes were chores you had to do and the curiosity which got me there in the first place slowly left the mind. The ultra curious boy who had filed an RTI to know why cigarets were not included in the basket for calculating inflation, but Phan was, was no longer there to ask stupid, but interesting questions. I have been here before. And I knew where to look for a way out of this illusion called “ living the college life”.
“Football, bloody hell”
– Sir Alex Ferguson
If I had done anything epic in my life or if I were to do something epic too in the future. I am sure, there will be 22 men following a ball trying to kill each other while abusing the poor mother of the ref and 50, 000 people following suit. Football, bloody hell. When I was at an another low point in my life. I did the same.
https://bit.ly/2M0z3cM – Check out that story there.
And I knew it was that time again to turn to football.
So staring out that window on the bus while we were crossing Tambaram. With the evening darkness slowly eclipsing the darkness in my mind, I took my phone out and did this single step.
If I had to look back now and say, what was one moment which made me believe. It would be this.
“ Rupee to Ruble conversion rate”
Jesus Christ, really?
I searched again on a finance website.
1 Ruble = 1.09 Rupee
What this means is, on paper at least. Everything in Russia should be the same price as it is in India. ( Which is not correct). At that point of time, it was like I can watch the FIFA WORLD CUP, the only difference would be that it would be in Russia. The expenses for everything else would be the same as in India. ( How naive) I FOUND MY PURPOSE. Honesty, I didn’t have an idea how my second year would be any better than the first for me.
But now I found something dangerous- Hope
Act 2 – The confrontation
Conflict is the precursor to any change. A resistance or a force is required to move anything from its natural state to an another state. ( There is a law of thermodynamics in there somewhere.) The FIFA U-17 world cup was coming to India. And in my own stadium, “Estadio Sankt Jawaharlal Nehru Camp Arena” ( You wont find that on google maps) or as well call it “ Kaloor stadium”. I applied to be a volunteer for the tournament. I was rejected. Naturally I was dejected as this was one of the very few times where I had a chance to be a part of the footballing story of India. That is why I call hope dangerous.
Then came the many sleepless nights of worrying how I was going to make the money to go to Russia. It was the closest I had come to depression in years. I was sleeping the entire day. Just getting up to eat and then staring at screens all night. I was regularly missing classes, that my profs had asked what happened to me. Old friendships strained and I was naturally feeling miserable.
Then destiny decided to shine a light on me. ( Okay, I am being dramatic). One evening, I spotted my senior, his girlfriend and a mate of mine riding out of campus. They invited me to tag along and go to this new Decathlon which had opened near campus. I was a bit reluctant to cycle, but it would be the first time I am leaving the campus in well over a week. So I hopped on my cycle and we went to Decathlon.
3 weeks later I was the last man standing in the endurance test for the recruitment at Decathlon. That was an important moment as I was in no way fit and was smoking at the time too, so I proved to myself how much I wanted it. That my body is all in for anything if my mind showed enough hunger and desire. Which I did. And after a week I was in the store. The front line of a business, showing users value in the products Decathlon makes. I was in the mountain sport department at Decathlon Perungudi.
This was also the time when I tried my hand at selling Bolis ( A south Indian sweet) in campus. I made my best mate from Kochi, Jeevan ride all the way up to Chennai in his Royal Enfield with the Bolis I had bought from another friend in Kochi. He believed in me when even I didn’t. We sold just enough to reach breakeven. It was the most stressful period we ever had and in the end, it just gave me more proof of just how far I was willing to go to get to Russia. You wont see IITians going door to door trying to sell sweets. But we all got to start somewhere.
VAMOS BOLIVIA BOLIS
One other job I had was at my grandfather’s print shop during the summer break. I worked as a delivery/cashier/ designer/ wash the dog walls/ anything he asked me to do, for a month and. A half. Helped get some initial funds in the pocket.
Lucky CITU didn’t spot me.
This was some time around October and then the semester came to an end. I had failed in half the courses I was doing due to lack of attendance. It was a slight disappointment, but by now I had my priorities set. I received my first salary. Just over 3k Rupees. Then came December. The most defining month of this project. I was changing stores from Perungudi to Teynampet. And it was the winter break in college and I didn’t have a place to stay. We have to vacate our rooms. I ploughed through as long as I could until I was threatened with being locked in my room by the hostel authorities. I took a look at the possible people I could call and ask for a place to crash for a few days. This was around the same time I realised that just because you know a lot of people, it doesn’t mean that all of them are your friends. I picked my phone up and called someone who would change me so much over the next 6 months.
Meet Illamthendral Gajendran.
( That has got to be the most Tam, Tam name ever)
We were just acquaintances at that point of time. But something inside me said. Call him.
Then began the happiest period of my time in IIT. He said no problems Macha. And I was sharing his room during December. He was there as part of the organising team for an Inter IIT sports tournament. After that came Saarang, the cultural fest of IITM and we decided to go out for drinks. Siting on the pavement, with a mix of Signature and coke, he told me how his core wanted me out of his room during December and how he fought with him to keep me in the room. I didn’t have any clue about all this, but he put his position on the line for me. For what?
The answer to that cant be found on a quid-pro-quo logic. It goes into the realms of a higher level of thought where love and friendship are a force which makes people do things for others without even thinking about themselves. That is Illam, that is what he epitomises and everyone who really knows him knows that. I am lucky to have met him.
And after December he invited me to stay in his room even though I was allotted an another room.
I accepted with eagerness but also a little guilt that I am leaving my other roommates, but priorities were getting clearer and staying with Illam would help me get to Russia more than staying with the HS people.
ROOM NO 138
That was our room. So many memories in there. From laughing at the most random things, to losing my virginity ( NOT WITH ILLAM) and chilling with Amey in the afternoons and was just a happy place, where we would talk about life at 3 am if one of us weren’t sleepy and then miss class the next day. ( Just me, that bastard always got to class, eppadi?) It was the best time ever.
This was also the time when I changed my store to Decathlon Teynampet. I will write a whole article about the Decathlon experience by itself. It was a little difficult at first. I was in a new team and was one of the more experienced members( actually at the time the most experienced after the department manger). But I slowly grew into it. And I was surrounded by people who inspired me on a daily basis. From a guy and a girl who play ultimate frisbee for India, to a semi- professional footballer who is big on the Chennai scene. To a girl who boxes for Tamil Nadu state, to a former volleyball player for the same. Then there are people who you look upto, real life role models. Which I have been lacking for quite some time. People that actually walk the talk. Put their money where their mouth is. I have been missing those people and I finally found a space where I can be surrounded with those people.
The impact that had on me was immense. From sleeping till noon, I went to waking up excited and staying up late to work. There have been times when I stayed at work till 11, 12 ,1 …..even slept in the store. All this while, I was fucking enjoying it. When was the last time you enjoyed “work”. Exactly, if you enjoyed it, you wouldn’t call it work. It was what I would call right now, MY LIFE. And for the first time I had a life outside the iron curtain of IIT Madras ( Okay, we have 4 gates which has a policed force checking you, what else would you call it). New friendships blossomed and I found people who cared about my well being. This was exactly what I was missing in my first year. I felt like I was part of this beautiful city called Chennai. This amazing place filled with so many different beautiful people. That feeling. That was something which I missed. I found the closest person to a brother I ever had . Okay he would hate when I say this, but he is my boss :p.
Rajashekaran Gunashekaran( or after I Mallu baptised him – Rajappan). He is the department manager of Quechua( mountain sports ) in decathlon Teynampet. And it has been a pleasure to work under/with him. His advice, his attitude and his bike ;p have all been of great value to me. I owe him so much and he always made sure my studies never suffered due to work. ( Unfortunately I didn’t :p). He amongst others, were the people to look up that I needed.
Another blessing came in the form of a tragedy was when I lost my phone. I got too drunk at a party in Mahabs and when we got back my phones been gone. Then some dude randomly started messaging people from it and I had it blocked. But what this meant is, I was without a smart phone for close to 6 months. As a consequence of which I didn’t have WhatsApp. And trust me, it has been the best 6 months of my life without that cancer. All my priorities just aligned themselves and I didn’t lose any energy or thoughts on stuff which didn’t matter. People that didn’t matter and most importantly I learned. If it is that important. They will call you.
I started the blog around that time. I had two of IIT Madras’s best tech wizards to help me out. Ajmal and Jibin and with their help this website came to life. I have only posted one article so far, but over the Russia period, I am looking at exciting days. I had four objective when I started this blog.
- Get someone else to join on this journey.
- Create a following
- Generate income
- Inspire other college kids like me to do something epic
I completed part A of the mission.
K2K and beyond – Introducing Amar
Remember when I was talking about being surrounded with people who inspired me on a daily basis. Well, he is THE INSPIRATION. Amar set on this cycling trip in 2016 where he cycled from Kanyakumari To Kashmir. A journey of about 3000 km over 2 months. He did it uphill taking the Sri Nagar route to go up. When I met him in B.O.A.T.S ( Restro-bar in Elliots beach) I was taken away at how awesome this guy was and I told him then. If you making any plans, count me in.
The reverse happened and it was I who made the plans and I seduced him in :p using this blog. He was also adamant that he wants to leave the country this year for an epic trip and now he too is coming . Amar being the saddle addict he is. Made me think it was possible to carry our cycles to a foreign country and cycle there. What a legend. So that is exactly what we are doing. We are carrying our cycles to Russia and are gonna cycle in the Artic circle. I know right. Fucking crazy. We are two people that inspire each other.
So in a few months time, I was making money and was saving up for the big trip. I booked my tickets without even knowing which fixtures were out yet. I revised 12st standard permutation, combination and probability to arrive at a fixture list which would have as much awesome teams as it possible could. I used my mate Abhijith’s credit card for that. ( Yes, there is a vodka with your name on it coming from Moscow :p) The booking window opened on the day I had my end semester exam. It was the most tensed I had been before an exam in years. Not for the exam, but for the anticipation of getting the tickets. And I was lucky to get 5 tickets then.
Now came the best lottery of my life. When the world cup group draws were being taken. I took a day of off work and started streaming. I never been so excited to see grown men fondle balls and open it to read whats inside( Okay, wrong picture). And when the groups came out, I realised I was the most luckiest man on earth at that moment. I had
Argentina vs Iceland
Germany vs Mexico
France vs Denmark
Portugal vs Moroccoo
And the big daddy of all my fixtures……….. England vs Belgium.
In the next phase I got Brazil vs Costa Rica and then a Semi- Final too.
Act 3 – The resolution
Act 3 is yet to begin. It will start in Russia and hopefully it will be the best act of this story. Like how Christopher Nolan said it
– “ Every great story DEMANDS a great ending”