Yesterday I went skating for the first time since we came to Sri Lanka. That was the last time as well:
It's probably for the best, as there's no good place to skate in Matara and right now I'm focused on surfing anyways. So like that my first skateboarding season is over!
I started skating in June. I skated before but never took it seriously. I used longboards and penny boards for transportation and even owned a legit skateboard but didn't manage to come over the fear of smashing into the asphalt so I didn't even learn the most basic trick — ollie.
I love activities that tire me off and allow to challenge myself. Several years ago I started surfing and later snowboarding and fell in love with both sports. These are very season, and location-dependent so felt bad far from mountains or ocean. Skateboarding was a good solution for the problem as if there's no snow or waves then there's always asphalt!
Skateboarding is a tough sport to master. It takes a lot of time, patience and bruises to learn basic tricks. It's tough not only physically, but also mentally. Especially when you're 31 and when bystanders see you, they stop to look at what you're up to. Instead of sick shit they saw in YouTube videos, they see a guy that barely pops his board and then trips over. It helped me to learn to give up the comfort zone and focus on what I do but not how others perceive it. That's definitely a great skill to have
That was quite a productive half of a year: I learned to ollie, front 180, started nailing pop shove-it, basics of ramp skating and different small tricks such as slides and turns. That was also six months full of injuries: bruises, scraped knees, elbows, and palms, but luckily no fractures. Once I was very close to breaking my arm when I felt from a 6ft ramp on my shoulder and popped it out. I was sure that the arm is broken because the pain was so intense but after visiting a hospital for an x-ray, it turned to be okayish.
I learn much slower than I anticipated, but it's always like that with any new skill. The skateboarding taught me that progress is not a new trick but the chunk of time that you spend trying:
According to my birth certificate, I was born in USSR, the country that ceased to exist before my very first memories. Unlike my parents who are genuinely Soviet people I don't have much of it in me. However, the Soviet education and growing up in the nineties left few marks on me. One of them is a special attitude towards lines.
Queues were a necessary evil where people had to spend hours to get essential products such as bread or meat. I don't have many memories of USSR lines, partially because I was quite small and partly because it wasn't a nice place for a child. Yet, the queue etiquette sits deep down in me somewhere next to the basic instincts. The spot in the line is a sacred right. If you stood there for a while, you deserve it, and nobody dares to take it from you. Yes, it's that serious because you always could be that person who didn't get the chance to buy the food.
Whenever I see someone violating a queue rule, the righteous indignation starts rising in me against my will. I can't help myself, and eventually, I'm turning into an animal ready to protect my rights with words and fists. I'm exaggerating, but fights aren't rare in Russian lines, even nowadays because there's always someone trying to cheat the system.
Knowing that you'll understand how I felt when I first time met with the Asia lines.
To be fair, they aren't all the same in every country. Koreans wait for buses in straight lines. Thais are crazy serious about food, so many restaurants have automated queues: you get a ticket with a number and expected waiting time so you don't have to swarm outside. Or take this famous pictures showing the Thai sabai:
But there're extreme examples, like Vietnam. Queues there are practically nonexisting. Instead of lining up they find a spot closest to the target and start from there. People not only avoid staying in lines but will even try to get in front of you if there's enough space. They use all different type of techniques to get around you. They hustle and actively play a live version of checkers.
At first, I tried to be civilized (in my notion of it) and always find the actual end of a queue. When I realized that it doesn't work, I tried to make sense into surrounding people, making faces and showing where they should stay. The only thing they do in return is a smile. It looks like a mockery and causes even more annoyance.
After months of living there, I accepted the rules of a new game and eventually even started enjoying it.
When I first time visited Sri Lanka, I was shocked at how often people cut me in queues. People would come in front of me with cash in an outstretched arm, pay for the purchases and walk away like nothing happened. I thought it's because I'm a tourist, so I took it personally. I tried to teach them good manners, but it didn't work as well. They were puzzled but not enlightened nor sorry.
It all changed when I came to a supermarket to quickly buy something like a pack of salt or oil. When I got to the line, people in front of me noticed that I had a single item and rushed me to be first.
That was a hard pill to swallow. I was angry at all these people only because I didn't understand that was clear for them: if you have just a few items, you have a right to go first.
When you travel to a new place, your everyday life is inevitable changing. You go to different groceries shops, buy unusual products and eat new meals. You get used to new ways to move, a new place to sleep, work and exercise. The weather, local language, and manners are all different.
We don't like change, but when the environment radically changes we have nothing to do but embrace new routines and adapt to the new conditions. I believe such moments is the best time to introduce new habits. The brain will not notice yet another unusual ritual and won't be pushing back too much.
I was trying to start meditating for years. I tried everything but never managed to practice more than once. Some time ago, right after we traveled to Bali, I decided to give a meditating app Headspace yet another shot and to my surprise started meditating every morning. I came so naturally and effortless, so it made me think about travel as the best new habits builder.
Although there's a catch: when you leave the place where you built a habit you need to force yourself to carry it to the next location. When my meditation streak was over 100, and we had to leave the island, I missed a single day because of the flight, and the streak was gone. It frustrated me, but I promised myself to return to it the next day. Then I skipped another day, then another. I think you already know what happened next.
We just got to Sri Lanka and I started meditating every morning again. As easily as it happened the previous time. This time around I going to be careful when I travel to the next place and make sure that I stick to this habit. I've also set a goal to write a blog post every day and this one is fourth in the row.
Let's see how it goes.
I just got back from a vacation in Italy where I didn't use a phone for the whole week. I did it against my will and would not advocate for that, but it was a fascinating experience.
I've drowned my primary phone (iPhone 7) a few months ago in an Amsterdam channel and was using the backup phone (iPhone 5) since then. These months were liberating. Because of the backup phone being slow and partially broken I started using it less and less. I didn't have any social network app installed on it, so I stopped checking the phone from time to time. I often was leaving my phone at home unless I had to have it on me. I so used to not using a phone, so I stopped getting local sim cards with the internet.
I was finally free!
When I broke my backup phone, I didn't want to buy the latest and greatest with a large screen that I would likely break in no time and decided to get classic iPhone SE. It turned out to be challenging because nowadays a two years old phone is junk that nobody wants to sell.
In meanwhile my vacation started and I flew to Italy where I was planning to find it but won't succeed until the very last days of the vacation.
I've been to Italy before but never in Rome, so initially it was bothersome not to be able to take a picture. Whenever we stopped by something interesting my first thoughts were "damn, I wish I could take snap a photo." After a while, I stopped bothering and started appreciating it.
You can be sure that whatever you see, has been captured thousands if not millions of times. What's so special about your photo? It won't be as good as it could be because of obstacles, other tourists, bad weather or light. It will never be as good as you see it. So why bother?
You might say, but what about showing your pictures to your friends? That's a valid point but in my experience, such moments are rare and often awkward for you and your mates. The pictures are never as exciting as you remember them, it takes time to find the exact photo that breaks the conversation flow. Unless it's a unique moment, you always can find the object you want to show on the internet.
It also gives you more time to enjoy the thing you'd like to depict. While others were reaching their phones, trying to get the best angle and waiting for bystanders to pass by, I was thinking and looking into details that others weren't able to see because they were busy.
Whenever you go, to the Vatican or Colleseum you'll see thousands of people staring into their phone or looking for the best spot instead of being in the moment. Taking the photo became a habit, a necessary ritual that we do unconsciously.
I'm not advocating to stop snapping photos, but offer to think if you need a picture of anything you encounter and be more conscious about it.
I usually not read much about places where travel to, but this time it was extreme. Because my wife and our US friends planned the trip, I didn't know much where we were going. Furthermore, I didn't even know the locations on the map set aside facts about the places, so I was able to look at everything with pure eyes.
When we got to Naples, I was surprised to know to that's suited by the sea. When we climbed the Vesuvius, I was stunned by the view as I didn't expect anything.
I know that it's not possible in every situation but try to read less about the destination and discover more with a fresh eye. And remember, the best way to explore is to get lost.
In addition to being an extreme introvert, I have some sort of social anxiety. I know that every time I meet new people, it's always a pleasant experience but every now and I then to lower the stress I would try to escape to the internet. It's never a solution and instead of helping it repels the people.
Our vacation companions were my wife friends that I never met before. Because I didn't have a chance to hide in the phone, I embraced the reality and got a lot of fun and pleasant moments that I wouldn't have with the phone.
By the end of the trip, we've become good friends, and I'm grateful to share the experience with them.