Monday, July 11, 2016

The need for Plan B

People often stress the need of having a plan in life. I have gotten away without a plan many times. What helped me is having a Plan B instead of an overall plan.

I timed my return to Germany from Kolkata to have my US paperwork ready. I would have been in Berlin this week getting a visa, and getting ready to move. But that did not happen. The paperwork is delayed and I must wait. Had I known, I would have spent more time in Kolkata. So what do I do now?

I spent the day staring at Google Maps until I had a plan. Sunday 5 am, I sleepily hopped on a long-distance train, and continued to sleep in the cramped seats until my neck was almost dislocated. I got on the road for a week, traveling in trains and seeing new countries. Hungary. Slovakia. Poland. Close your eyes and touch the European map and you could be wherever you please.

This was not even a part of my conscious until Friday, let alone be a part of my plan. But since Plan A is taking forever, I decided to make the best use of my time. And why not? I brought my work with me. I am seeing places I have no spiritual connection with and have no reason to see otherwise. The hostel in Budapest has an interesting balcony lining the inner perimeter of the building (If you have seen Julie Delpy's "2 days in Paris", this building looks exactly like that). A good looking young man was on the phone at the other end of the balcony for a long time this morning, wearing nothing but his boxers, unaware that he had a curious spectator. Imagine waking up to a view like that. Ma would have said, "Why are you spending money, you could have lazed around at home.” She has a point, but this might be a good plan to have at age eighty.

From perfect jobs to understanding partners, healthy and well-behaved children, efficient cars and cozy homes, we want to have it all. But life isn't perfect, mine far from it. I've set my heart on things that never happened, giving way to things instead I had never considered. Doing a PhD was my Plan B. Moving to Germany was my Plan B. Learning to drive was my Plan B (I was so scared that I resisted it for years). Learning to travel alone was my Plan B. It all worked out great. If life had been predictable, I’d be a resident of the Bay Area in California whose husband works in one of the software companies, owning a townhouse, driving a Lexus, rearing American children, taking them to piano and ballet lessons and celebrating Durga Puja with the fellow “probashi” or non-resident Bengalis, whining about how dirty India is and how corrupt the politicians are. But my life is not predictable, far from it thankfully. I can be homeless and jobless in a day. I can also plan a road trip to any European country in a day. My life is that steroid-driven. So Plan B for me is absolutely possible. Why possible, it is the Plan Bs that have kept me going, making my life interesting and different from the rest.


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