All that glitters is not gold...

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July 18th 2008
Published: July 18th 2008
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Maharaja's Palace through the arched gateway
This is going to be a much more personal blog than I mostly publish, even though I have seen and done a bunch of things again, they failed to catch my excitement due to something of personal nature which overshadowed everything else...

Instead I am going to write about the downside of the wandering lifestyle that I have chosen and especially one part of that downside.

When I tell people about my life, the fact that I have been traveling more or less continues for the last few years, they often reply how jealous they are. What a great life it must be and how they wished they could do the same. I think it conjures up a life of adventure on the high seas, exotic countries, total freedom, no worries and all that. But there is no such thing as an ideal lifestyle, there is a drawback to everything, to every choice you make in life. I made this choice simply because I really love traveling, I knew that it involved making sacrifices, but I decided that it was worth it... Just liking traveling is not enough to do what I do, you really, really need to love

And from the gate
it, to be a continues traveler. You also need to be the kind of person who kind of lives by the day, who doesn't think too much of the future.

Now there are several downsides to traveling like me. One of them is of course that you have no financial stability, no steady income and you never know if you will be able to find a job when you need one. There is no pension plan either with my career, so if you are the kind of person who thinks about what the future might be and are worried about what will happen when you get old, then this is not for you.

But while financial instability can at times be something that really gets you down, especially when you come back broke and your planned job doesn't materialize straight away, it isn't that which I am going to talk about. After all it is just money and money doesn't rule my heart, but what I want to talk about does at times.

The real downside to my lifestyle is relationships! When you travel like I do, keeping up a relationship is, I would say almost impossible.

Statue of Maharaja Chamarajendar Wodeyar
Unless of course you find a partner who is willing to lead the same lifestyle as you, and I can tell you I haven't found that person yet and I think it is quite rare to find somebody like that. It's like fishing in an almost empty sea, there might be a few around, but even if you find that person who travels like you, it still has to click and you need to be able to get along and be attracted to each other...

So of course you do meet people you like but are not into the amount of traveling that you do. The option is to not get into a relationship or try and see how it goes. In the last few years I have had several relationships and I haven't been able to sustain any of them for a longer period. Sometimes it is me who after traveling a while discovers that the love has gone or that I don't miss her anymore, or you might find somebody else who you are attracted to. Sometimes it is the other way around, the girl back home falls out of love or finds somebody else.


Details on the Jaganmohan Palace
I have seen both sides of the coin.

In my last relationship, it was me who fell out of love. I discovered that I didn't think of her, didn't miss her and didn't have the same feelings any more. When that happens it can be quite tough, because when you break up, you want to do it in person. That is the least you can do if you respect your partner. But what do you do when you are on the other side of the world? I personally grappled with that question for several weeks. Do I wait till I am back and tell her personally when I see her? That didn't feel right to me, because it would mean keeping up a facade in my mails and conversations. Every time I would end a mail with 'I love you' I would feel like the most hypocritical guy in the world, because it would be a lie! And it wouldn't be fair to let the person hang on, totally unaware of my change of heart, till I come back. So that meant breaking up via mail or telephone. Both are not the best ways to do it and when

Colours at Devaraja Market
the phone lines are constantly busy or there is a huge time difference a mail might be the last resort. With it comes a feeling of total guilt at hurting that person and doing it in such a nasty way too! I always felt that mails were a coward’s way out, and know I was doing it myself! But I also think that breaking up shouldn't be easy. It should be the hardest thing you ever do, and it should make you feel guilty and bad. You are after all breaking somebody else's heart!

Hard as this is, the other way around is of course much worse! Because if you are the one doing the breaking up, you are the one who made the decision, and doing the heart breaking. Guilt and feeling bad and sorry about it may be the only thing you have to contend with. But if it is your girlfriend that breaks up with you when you are on the other side of the world it is you who is the one who is getting hurt, it wasn't your decision and it always takes you by surprise.

And that is exactly what happened about

Fruit and vegetable vendors at Devaraja market
a week ago. My girlfriend told me that the relationship was no more. Now as a traveler I try to prepare myself for things like this, because I know how hard it is. But it doesn't matter how much you try to prepare yourself for something like this, when it happens, it hits you just as hard! Let me just clarify that I don't hold any grudges or blame her for doing what she did. How could I? I have done the same to others! Neither am I looking for sympathy from anybody, I just want to show what one goes through when it happens.

Being dumped is hard enough as it is when you are at home surrounded by friends and family. When you are in some far off country, in a different culture, it is far and far worse. Suddenly everything becomes meaningless to you... The beautiful palaces, seem rather dull, the bustling markets not interesting and the people around you just too much to handle. Traveling looses it's luster...

A thing like walking around the city becomes something you dread. All you want to do is be left alone, but people will still come up

Flowers for sale at the market
to you, as always, asking you where you are from, what your name is and why you are traveling alone. And then there are the people trying to sell you something or get something from you... While just the day before you might have had a good conversation with some of those people or laughed away those that are trying to get you to spend too much of your money, it now is just all beyond your capabilities. The alternative is staying in the room, and if you are on a budget it means an empty room, with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling fan going round and round and think about what happened! And that is also not something that you want to do.

In the meantime you also still have to go through all the logistics of traveling. There are still busses and trains to catch, hotels to find, restaurants to eat in, water to buy and all the mundane stuff that normally wouldn't be a problem. Life goes on, but you want it to stop for a while. It is a very, very, hard time I can tell you. I haven't had much sleep,

Hoysaleswara Temple
I have spend a lot of time in hotel rooms thinking too much about what went wrong and where, and being generally depressed. I have gone through all the emotions that come with it, sadness, loss, anger, hate, blame. I have blamed myself, I have blamed her, I have been incredibly angry at her, I have felt frustration, felt insulted, rejected and I felt more lonely than I have in a very long time.

And all this time everything is done via the mail, not the greatest medium for breaking up! There was no other possibility though for her or for me, the time difference is just too big. So she dumped me via the mail. I replied via the mail. She tells me how sorry she is via the mail. I tell her of my confusion and anger via the mail. And every time you have to wait a day for a reply. In the meantime you are wondering what she might say, what might be in the next mail and what you will reply to that.

While being dumped while traveling is very hard, I have discovered that you also, or at least I was able

Details on the walls
to, cope with it much faster then I had expected. I went through all the different turmoil’s of the heart in about three days, after which I had reached the stage of acceptance. I think this is because I didn't have much choice, I had nobody to talk to, I still had to contend with the problems of traveling, so basically I was forced to get through it quick. It seems to me it is very hard, but also very quick! That doesn't mean I am over her, not by a long shot, it just means I am not looking for any reasons anymore, I am not frustrated or angry anymore. That part is over. I still am sad and my heart still aches, but not the whole day any more, it is just in cycles now and they will get less and less frequent as time goes by.

When you are alone and have to go through all this you also do a lot of soul searching and I realized that in the end I can only blame myself for what happened. I am the one who chose this life, so when she was sad and lonely and

The gods
was having a hard time at work, I wasn't around to comfort her and help her and be there for her. Instead I was away traveling. It isn't hard to realize that nobody wants to be in a relationship like that. I think many people don't realize what it means to be in a relationship with a guy like me.

But does this mean I will change the path I have chosen? No, even if this is hard and at the moment I am not in any mood to travel, that will change. I love my life and wouldn't give it up for anything in the world! At least not yet, maybe one day I will decide otherwise, but that time has not come yet.

They often say the best part of traveling is coming home, and I agree with that in part. Happily I will be home in a few days where those who love me await me, to comfort me and help me!

Additional photos below
Photos: 39, Displayed: 29



Beautiful statue

Very intricate

The grim reaper, Hindu style!

What a hat!

Inside the temple

Channekeshava Temple

More great statues

And more

Surprise, surprise

You don't want to meet him in a dark alley!

View of the town

18th July 2008

Hi mate, I have been following your travels through your blog for a while now. Very sorry to read about your relationship. I guess this ain't the best time for it, but whilst you are in India, why not travel to Bhopal? It's a nice city, not very busy and is much cleaner than most other Indian cities. And from Bhopal, you can travel another 200km to a hill station called Pachmarhi. You may have already been to these places as you have travelled India before i know. So if that is the case, ignore my message. I hope you find happiness, it takes enormous guts to do what you do and as you rightly said, its not for everyone. All the best.
21st July 2008

Quite true.
Sorry to hear about your recent troubles. Travellers like us are always making a sacrifice either to travel and deal with long distance relationships or lack of them, or to sacrifice travel for more fulfilling relationships. Its almost impossible to decide what is the "right" thing to do, we just have to take every day as a beautiful gift and enjoy it no matter what our circumstances are. now. Dont dwell on the past, our minds make us suffer! This would probably make for a good forum topic about loves made and lost while travelling those who manage to travel with each other and those that have given travelling up to be with their partners, its a very poignant discussion.. Speak soon!
26th July 2008

how ya goin now mate? hope all is well! since u dont wna any pity from me over ur lost relationship, i wont give u any. of course, i always hope the best for u and keep u chin up! look on the bright side...i still love u :)
26th July 2008

You're right. One piece of bad news can turn all the beauty in the world into pointless crap. But the good thing about the future is that it's ahead of you and it's yours. You don't know me, but I read you blog, been to many of the places you're visiting, and I absolutely love everything you write. Agnes
30th July 2008

I have been following your blog and enjoying India through you, as you go along in your adventures, taking me with you to all those wonderful places through your stories, photos and your great sense of humor. Having a broken heart is the worst, but it always heals -even though at times it may seem as impossible. You are living a great live! It could be worst, you could be living a boring-sedentary life and still risk having a broken heart! Hang in there Your Dudeness!
11th August 2008

I'm looking at all these cool pictures you've taken in this post, yet there's no mention of the cool places you have visited. Cheer up, Ralf! Hey! You could be like a Dutch Ibn Battuta and have a dozen wives and countless concubines, at least two in every country over the course of three decades. And if no-one wants you, I have you! :-*
1st September 2008

Where did you disappear from Gokarna?
Ralf, After you last blog from Gokarna you have not posted any more blogs. Just wondering what happened to you and if you are still in India.
1st September 2008

Thanks for all the kind comments!
I would like to thank everybody for the nice reactions to this post, the wise words and positive remarks! And as for where I am now... At home, I will write another blog in a month or so, the usual in between travel blog... I should be on the road again around half october!
16th September 2009

honesty not always the best policy ;o)
Thanks so much for your honest blog. I am one of those who wonder what it would be like to do what you are doing. I have a very stable life, great pension, home, money to burn, but often dream of throwing it all away to see the world. I appreciate hearing the other side. Your blogs are great, pictures amazing and there are many of us living vicariously through you. Maybe a trip home to decompress will help. All the best.
3rd February 2010

Thank you
Thank you your Dudeness, I related to your blog very much and was deeply touched. Just wanted to thank you for sharing all this.
30th January 2011

My stupid mistake
I just needed someone near while I made money to continue traveling. My heart still hurts and I am sorry things worked out this way. xxx
11th December 2012

I've just run across this very personal blog on my way to reading your blogs about Central Asia...
and note that the last comment was a Sorry and xxx's from Tori. I've read your Intermezzo's with no mention of her since then. I note you have other female friends in your life...single mothers seem to be a was wondering if the circumstances that led to your breakup may have led to new approaches in relationships. Perhaps I am getting too personal, but I do care about those TBers I Follow, and want them to find happiness. Anyway, have a great trip to Asia, once again. Perhaps on this trip you will finally achieve your goal of overlanding to Australia...with a few boats between Malaysia and there. Perhaps you can cross paths with Travel Camel who will be in Malaysia shortly.
12th December 2012

Tsja, me and my relationships
Tori was the last girlfriend I had. After that I eschewed relationships for a while, giving myself time to reflect on what went wrong. Well, for starters my lifestyle isn't great for relationships, but that is not the reason I am not in any now. I just haven't found the right person. I am rather picky about whom I want a relationship with, so there have never been many in the first place. As for the lessons learnt, well, I can't say until I find myself in a new relationship. Hopefully when that happens I will discover I learned something from past failings. As for Tori, I still am in contact with her, we are friends now. But I haven't seen her since, hence the reason of not seeing her or her being mentioned on any of my Intermezzo blogs. And about the single mothers, yep seems to be a theme. But actually I think it is just coincidence. Or maybe I am old enough to have them. When you are young, naturally, you have less friends who have children, as you grow older you see your friends finding a partner/wife and getting children. And in some cases the relationship doesn't work between the partners so you have a few single mothers as friends as well. It just so happens that I see them more often than some of my other friends and so they get mentioned more often in my blogs. On the whole I seem to get along better with women than with men. Or perhaps it is that my female friends are better in keeping in contact with me than my male friends. Don't worry about my happiness. I would say I am happy and have been happy most of my life, with a few downs in between to keep things in perspective. Thanks for asking and caring.

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