"Feeling back... Never left"
I arrived at this quaint village that felt like I was on a Greek Island - the dry fields with the unfinished blue and white houses - the cobblestone roads that lead you through a labyrinth or maze.
I walked further up this village and arrived to a large gathering of people and ... a bed! I asked what was going on to these men with drums, who then made a sleeping gesture. Captain Snooze hadn't marked down a 50% clearance sale. I had walked into a funeral procession.
The attention then turned to me as the men with the drums started playing with vigour, accompanied with these enticing smiles - baiting me to have a dance. The whole crowd turned around - I didn't know how to react.
I had just crashed a funeral.
I couldn't start dancing or smiling. So I just awkwardly stood there with no idea what to do with my arms, praying they would stop. It was like this piece had been written by Mozart - it just wouldn't fucking end.
I'm an awkward dancer at the best of times - l normally like to just chill and maybe find a wall and get my drunken trex arms out. Dancing is one of the most awesomely weird things we do. I have a few mates who tear up the dance floor. You can just see all the woman in the room undressing them with their eyes. Me, I'll just stick to the wall looking like a registered sex offender.
Eventually the music subsided, I thanked them and then weaved through the crowd to go on my way.
It was approaching mid afternoon and still wasn't sure where I was walking to. This was until I was stopped by four women who ran into this house to grab an older farmer. Nallasamy approached me with this calm and loveable demeanour. It was like he was the total boss of this village. He invited me in for a cool drink -a freshly squeezed lime mixed with a Mountain Dew of sugar.
Despite our language barrier and age difference we hit it off immediately. Banter back and forth - we laughed as he called me out for being soft as he looked down and compared our feet. I have no doubt he could walk over burning coals or broken glass without even a grimace on his face.
He then invited me over for lunch at his eldest son's home across the road. I was greeted by his son's wife and 13 year old son who acted now as the interpreter. They provided me with a banquet of food - all vegetables from their garden - will never forget the taste of this simple tomato sauce.
I still haven't mastered the fine art of eating with my hands.
"Mix, mix, mixxx, mixxxx," they laughed as they barked instructions.
The son arrived back from the field and promptly invited me to stay the night at his father's house. An offer too good to refuse.
Nallasamy took me on a tour of the farm and explained how he split his land 50/50 with his two sons once they finished their higher education. He shared stories about his wife who passed away suddenly 20 years prior as he proudly showed off his way of life in the fields.
At dinner we all sat around as his grandson translated all of our conversations - we talked about our lives and exchanged pictures - genuine interest in my family, friends and hometown. Their wedding photos came out - "small wedding" of 2,000 people. Have to love the professional post wedding shoot photos. Special.
There was a moment as we flicked through the photo album that got me thinking about our own phases of life we go through. A friend of mine poignantly said "I want to get better at appreciating the different life stages that my friends are in." An honest reflection of the frustrations we can face when those around enter a new phase - mostly courtesy of Facebook.
Yes, it can be a depressing day.
However, if anything I have realised a new phase should be met with love and support as we all 'grow old' differently. Some, including me, will enter panic mode as they find themselves inexperienced and underprepared for their latest life development.
Embrace the moment you're in now. Things are guarenteed to change. Be grateful that there is no correct formula to live your life - despite the internal / external pressures we can sometimes feel. Build a life that you can look back on and be proud of the memories that you are making.