Barham to Swan Hill Cylce Loop

I’m heading out from Barham tomorrow. I’ve had a great couple of weeks here, but it’s time to get my legs on again. Before i go i’ve got some typesetting corrections to finish, which just arrived. So it could be a late night, but i usually can’t sleep before a tour anyway.

I’ve mapped out the following route, which i will probably discard within the first day. I like making maps more than i enjoy following them:

Barham to Swan Hill LoopAt around 400 km it’s not the longest ride you ever heard of, and i’ll be stopping at Kerang for a day to ride with Max and his friends, and i will stop around Ouyen to see the pink lakes at Murray Sunset National Park.

The only other relevant details about the trip at this time are that i will be visiting one town called Quambatook and another town called Chinkapook. No doubt everyone along the way will call me a nincompoop — not because i am stupid, but because they lack imagination and a sense of adventure. It can get a little frustrating out there that i am seen to be such a novelty. But then it gets me free steaks from time to time.

I am aiming to arrive in Swan Hill around the 21st of March to join a host family there who need help on their organic garlic farm. Check out if you’re interested in exploring work-exchange as a way to travel cheap.



dawn-time dawnings: i’m writing a memoir!

I think I really am actually writing a coming-of-age memoir. I’m coming of age, I know that much. And I’m writing about it. Bloody oath I’m writing about – I can’t friggen stop writing about it. Some friends are telling me I need to get out of my mind, away from the computer – and what?, into their car!? No way Jose. I’m on my own trip, and today I’m fucking thrilled about it. Yesterday and the days before that? Not so much. Tomorrow? Who knows. But today I’m really actually writing a memoir. I wrote down a summary as a potential pitch recently, when i got excited about an unsolicited email from an agent. But now i can’t find it, which is good – it’s the sort of thing that should be written and re-written from scratch, even as an exercise for writing the actual damn thing. It was something like:

High-school suburban stoner makes it good in publishing before growing disillusioned with the industry and the whole entire industrialised West, heads to Thailand in pursuit of peace, returns an alcoholic, has a nervous breakdown, finds God, travels to Turkey thinking he’s got this peace thing under control, does a lot of hardcore meditation but returns to alcoholism nonetheless, returns to Australia, has another breakdown, catches up with God again and decides to share his story.

Something like that. If i rewrite it every day as i approach the idea of thinking about maybe extracting these Adventures in Sobriety posts and developing them into a manuscript, maybe in ten years i’ll have the concept distilled enough to fit it on a blurb that people might actually care to understand.

The summary i wrote for the agent was a lot more succinct and far less sarcastic and it sounded like a cliché, but whatever.

I have long maintained that clichés are clichés for a bloody good reason – when enough people can relate to an idea easily expressed by some phrase, story or experience, it can become cliché. Cliché gets a bad wrap among the over-educated arts elite, because there is this obessesion with originality – as though using cliché is somehow shamefully derivative. Not necessarily – it’s not the nature of the boat, it’s how you use it. I’m not sure if that really works, but you get the idea.

My superego gets in the way sometimes, suggesting I can’t tell stories for shit and who would care about my story anyway. But then my ego chips and says, Abhijan, you’re fucking awesome! Write this memoir and share it with whoever will listen. Your story is great – you’re a fucking trooper.

I don’t really care what either of them have to say. I’m going with my gut. I’m going with feeling on this one. And right now, the hours I spend sitting down at my journal getting longhanded with my story – they are the most peaceful hours I get, at a time when my life is in a seemingly constant state of upheavel and change.

So that’s what Adventures in Sobriety is about for now. All of the above.

I worry sometimes about whether putting this all up online is a kind of narcissistic exercise – a cry for help, a plea for attention. But right now I don’t care about that either – in one sense because i actually don’t care, but in another: i bloody do need help. Help!, i’m a drunk and a stoner.

But also it’s a cathartic process for me, and I’m arriving at insights I might never have arrived at if I hadn’t been scribbling away at this. So telling the story is as much for me as it might be for you. Of course I’m keen to hear if it resonates with you – that would be grand. We can learn from each other in sharing our stories. So bring it. Yes, I’m looking at you!

desperate times

in which i discuss pooing and Buddhism with one breath

I just used my hands and a teaspoon to dig a hole in someone’s yard so i could take a dump, like some humanoid-cat-dog hybrid. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I am also sun-drying mushrooms on Massive’s back rack because they began to attract ants and sweat inside their stupid-plastic container. They were already reduced for quick sale. Should i eat them? I don’t know. Dodgy mushrooms have a bad reputation. I was going to make mushroom dhal.

deceptive lead image

deceptive lead image

This experience (the pooing one) is something that i’m proud of when, according to society’s standards of respectability, i should feel ashamed.

I feel proud because a vague reason i’m doing this Berri to Somewhere cycle tour is i knew it would force me to be more resourceful than i generally am. Also, one of my main men, Milan Kundera, convinced me long ago that we need to start talking about poo if we can ever hope to escape a life of kitsch.

I wonder what it says about me that i should feel proud for shitting in someone’s backyard because it makes me feel resourceful. It is a vague consolation for me that part of this experience is also about exploring the idea of “respectability”, which is (sort of, i think) one of the Eight Worldly Concerns described in the Dhammapada and expounded upon at length by Osho.


space cowboy promote

I found my passport. I left it at the shop, like a true space cadet.

Does finding my passport warrant a promotion from space cadet, or was that warranted by the misplacement itself?

And what comes after space cadet anyway? Space cowboy!?

I hope it’s space cowboy! Maybe then i will stop going everywhere without a cigarette lighter.


the last place we look

I have misplaced my passport. It was bound to happen one of these days, what with me being a space cadet and all.

Don’t tell Mum.

I have checked my emails, but it’s not there. Maybe it’s in the toilet.

Wherever it is, i am consoling myself with the sage advice of my father, which is that i will find it in the last place i look.

Often the things we really need are in the first place we looked, only we couldn’t see it then. Here’s to hoping that passports are not something we really need and i haven’t just overlooked it a hundred times, upturning my tent.

As one lady said, maybe it’s an opportunity to shed my old identity and begin to live anew. I like that. There’s an opportunity for learning in here somewhere—i guess i’m just not looking hard enough in the first place.


To Be Coming Home

I have changed my plans again, this time to stay in Greece for a few more months because i have a sense of home here, now. Something shifted when i decided to stay, which wasn’t as much a decision as it was a relinquishment, a letting go of some idea i had about the future.

I was going to Thailand and India via Australia, China, Laos and a few other places in between: back to Australia to get Mulga Bill Massive, my poor neglected touring bike, so i could cycle around in search of another community.

But around the thought of leaving Greece there was a feeling of an anxiety, which fell away when i knew i wouldn’t yet have to go back through Istanbul, Dubai, Adelaide, just to get my bike and ride to Byron or somewhere. I need community, communion, and here i have it, now, so why leave? Leaving a community in Greece to go in search of a community elsewhere is like going into a shop with a dollar and asking to buy a dollar.

When i realised this, the anxiety fell away and relief emerged, bright and luminous as the stars appear to be when you get out of the city for the first time.

Continue reading


The Wealth of Gratitude

I have been experimenting with frugal longterm travel here in Turkey, to explore simplicity and austerity while travelling abroad. I’ve been hitch-hiking and long-distance trekking and free-camping as a sort of pilgrimage, to experience the sort of interdependence we get separated from when we travel in boxes, only ever paying for things with money.

I have received a bewildering amount of charity, goodwill and hospitality over the last six months and it has caused me to think feel deeply about gratitude. Something i have learnt is that when you can’t (or are not allowed to) pay for some hospitable gesture or such a general act of kindness as someone going a little out of their way to show you around their town or get you closer to where you’re going, the gratitude feels greater because you carry it with you and feel compelled to pay it forward in other acts of kindness instead of just handing over some cash and feeling done with it.

When we pay for service with money it somehow squanders the energy of our gratitude, as a hole in the side of a hose reduces the pressure of the final output.

If we want to increase our appreciation of gratitude, it can be useful to put ourselves in the way of opportunities for others to express their natural desire to commit general acts of kindness in our direction, under conditions where we can’t just buy our way out of feeling what is really valueable about gratitude: that compulsion it creates, to respond to kindness with thanks and a resolve to pay it forward elsewhere.

If we all do this, kindness and gratitude will spread like wildfire. Hitching, volunteering, asking a local if you can camp in their beer garden … all good ways to enter a new way of living that is both unbelievably cheap in financial terms and immeasurably rich in cultural terms. Get outside it.