Sitting on a sidewalk down a dusty street in Bangalore..
10pm Thursday night, riding home from the office on the back of a Royal Enfield motor cycle, manoeuvring cautiously around beeping rickshaws, stray dogs, and complacent cows strolling along the pot-holed roads. Pungent smells of small burning piles of rubbish littered along the side walks waft in and out. We pull up at a hole-in-the-wall corner store situated on a dusty back street, ordering small paper cups of freshly brewed warm chai over the counter, sitting on a plastic stool on the crumbling side walk, talking work, staring out… A colleague and I chat passionately about projects, the impact of the work we are doing, the excitement, enthusiasm, and determination of everyone involved… I’m suddenly conscious of my whereabouts after having been enthralled in the discussion.
I smile in acknowledgement as I take in the scene before me: 2 cows stroll along the road: thugs who own these streets, out to cause havoc. A rickshaw swerves to miss them. One cow knocks over a plastic container on the curb used for rubbish, digging into its contents- plastic bags and all. The shop owner shoos it away. .. “Oh, that’s right.. I’m in India!” I remind myself.
Pausing I reflect on my looming 31st birthday.. “Wow that sounds old. I was just getting comfortable with saying I’m the big 3-0 …where did time go?” I think back. My 21st was 10 years ago.. 10 YEARS!! …that was when the travel bug and its niggling itch to want to be more first took a BIG bite! As cliche as it sounds, winning that scholarship 10 years ago was my destiny, leading me to Paris, turning my world around, and changing my life’s course forever. .. Paris- where I met the first of the many inspirational people my journey would guide me towards.. That 21 year-old big dreamer with my bright-eyed vision of making a difference through paving the way for women in engineering… the twists and turns of events into the field of design that lead me to the big city and corporate high-life of VIP parties, cruises, flights, being wined and dined, .. yet always scratching at that chronic niggling itch searching for something more. The BIG gamble taken after years of career investment to find a new path forward with no real certainty on what that was and the sense that time was getting away from me.. journeying through South American countries and falling into eco tourism .. unknowingly stumbling across the scent of social impact whilst there.. returning to the land of OZ, still uncertain and feeling the pressure to fall back into line within corporate, but backing my instincts, which ultimately lead me here.. today. 10 years down the track… sitting on the sidewalk down a dusty street in Bangalore, talking “work” within this fast paced, dynamic, all encompassing organisation that seems to draw the most incredibly inspirational people everywhere I turn.
There’s no “off” button, work is no longer somewhere I go, it’s interlaced into a lifestyle and passion that swells up inside.. having always been there, dormant, waiting for the right trigger. It’s an addiction that creeps up with a heart-felt desire to give your all, to constantly strive to deliver your best, knowing that every increment you give, dominos down the line into a significant, life-changing impact on others.
I guess it HAS been a bit of a journey…
“Ok 31. I’m with you. Let’s do this!”.
I scratch my mozzie assaulted legs, finish my chai and collect my things, taking a deep breathe of the cool night’s air and thinking about my schedule for tomorrow.. there’s nowhere I’d rather be.