There is no greater freedom than having a scalp full of uncombed hair, mismatched clothes, a handbag stuffed with enough meds to nuke your entire system + a cloth bag with a change of clothes and a toothbrush, chipped nail paint and 20 hours of sleep in the last 7 days. This is the point of no return. This is when you care the least, where there is no shame or discomfort in sleeping wrapped around a chair, in a coffee shop, at an airport for 6 maybe 8 hours.
I’ve always loved doing travel shows.
Let me rephrase that.
I’ve always loved doing travel shows…. in hindsight.
Never when they’re actually happening.
Every time I nose dive into one, I’m mad excited. Oh the places I’ll see! The crew I’ll get to hang with! The adventures we’ll have!!
All this elation does a quick 180-degree turn on day 1, hour 6.
And another 180 somewhere smack in the middle of the shoot.
It’s a 4 step quick and painful procedure.
First the potential excitement turns into chronic internal whining. My brain starts to bitch out the entire process almost immediately; the number of endless days/weeks ahead of me, the lack of food, the lack of cellphone coverage, the lack of sleep and the retakes. And because I’m with new people I have to have my game face on.
Smiling and waving on the outside, mixing Molotov cocktails on the inside.
Then the whining subsides giving rise to self-loathing. Was this an absolute must? Why do I have to get greedy? I’ve seen most of these places before, what was I expecting? Why is my alarm clock always stuck at 4:30 a.m?
Right after this comes indifference. The stage where, if a Unicorn came running out of nowhere and impaled me on its unihorn, I’d be all ‘Meh’.
Then the lack of sleep + strange, amazing new places put you in some sort of a bizarre adrenalin high that you’re not consciously aware of. It’s a low buzz at the back of your head. You realize it’s presence much later, but in the meantime you end up laughing a lot, yammering with all and sundry, taking photos of kids/goats/trees, humming songs, taking selfies and generally being that person that everyone else around starts to hate.
This is the runners flow equivalent of travel shows. Just when you’re almost ready to give up, the rhythm of the shoot shows up, when you least expect it, like the giant cocaine badger from ‘It’s all gone Pete Tong’.
One moment you’re swearing off working entirely and the next you’re sprinting up and down coffee estates.
It’s a pattern and I have no idea how I haven’t been able to recognize it. Hamsters have been known to show better cognitive abilities.
There was once a train ride where the roof of the train leaked and we were leaving a monsoon soaked Bombay only to enter a rare monsoon struck Delhi. A budget travel show meant traveling general compartment, second class. Like a boss.
A 23-hour flight to Australia with a sliver of that time to get rid of jetlag. I found myself in a polar bears pen the next day.
Sleeping in the car because we lost our way. Several times.
We ran out of fuel once and were stranded for hours.
Same thing with spare tyres.
Miscalculated the weather and almost got hypothermia because who carries a jumper when its going to be a pleasant 22 degrees? (Deceptive extra bastard 2)
Got food poisoning because the jalebis were glowing neon and I had to eat them. At a mela.
Either I don’t learn or the entire experience when gathered together and patted down makes for a fantastic sand castle.
Plus the breathless abandonment at the end of a work schedule that has been getting exponentially tougher is priceless. I don’t think I can afford to swap that for anything ever.