“This inner adventure took over my life” – Subhuti
Some people are driven by the search for adventure. I guess I must be one of them, but after exploring the outside world for a while, I discovered there was a more interesting, unexplored territory, inside myself.
This inner adventure took over my life, so much so that, for a while, I left everything behind – career, family, friends – and became a stranger in a strange land.
But it wasn’t always that way. My life started out conventionally enough. I was a “baby boomer,” born at the end of World War II, and had an average, middle-class upbringing in the United Kingdom.
I went to Bristol University, where I chose to study Politics & Philosophy – never dreaming that I would actually use either of these two subjects in “real life.” As it turned out, both came in handy.
Leaving university with a degree, in 1968, I was confronted with the sobering and rather shocking realization that I had to get a job and go to work.
It seemed puzzling to me that earning a living had to take up so much of my valuable time.
My fellow students were starting careers in business, medicine, law, education, but none of it appealed to me.
Journalism, as they say, is the last resort for the unemployable. In my case, writing came easily and news reporting didn’t feel like work, so that’s where I felt attracted.
I suffered for a couple of years as a trainee reporter on a small-town newspaper called the Swindon Evening Advertiser. The suffering came mostly in the form of boredom.
I could sense the dynamic scene bubbling away in Swinging London, a short train ride from Swindon, but was obliged to write about local council meetings instead.
Then I landed a job with The Birmingham Post, which at the time was a daily morning newspaper, serving the business community in the West Midlands. I was stationed on the business desk, which turned out to be only marginally less boring than my stint in Swindon.
Writing about ball bearings and car seats didn’t exactly challenge my creative potential.
In 1972, fate blew me a kiss, the sun came out, the winning lottery ticket dropped in my lap. How? Well, since The Birmingham Post aspired to rival the London dailies, it required two reporters in Westminster to write about national events.
My editor had been impressed with a couple of Shakespearian quotes I’d used in my business articles, so I was chosen, I assume, on grounds of cultural literacy.
I bought my one-way ticket to London and never looked back.
Buying a couple of trendy, Village Gate suits and easing into an apartment in Marble Arch, I reclaimed a lost girlfriend – she’d dumped me a year earlier, having deemed my Birmingham postcode to be uncool – and began to live the life.
I could hop into a taxi at Hyde Park Corner and be down at my office, right alongside Big Ben, in minutes. I could shake hands with the Prime Minister and stroll down Whitehall like I belonged there. My ‘significant other’ worked for Thomson Holidays, so on the weekends we were jetting around Europe for practically nothing.
In short, I could legitimately sing “everything’s going my way” and tap dance my way to success – or at least tap the keys of my typewriter and head in the same direction.
But, alas! What kind of curse is it that afflicts an ambitious young man, when he comes to realize there is more to life than writing witty, sarcastic articles about the antics of British politicians?
With the long-term goal of being political editor of The Times, The Telegraph, or The Guardian in my career sights, I astonished myself by giving it up. I simply walked away.
Instead, I started contemplating my navel, in a strange and unfamiliar practice called “meditation.”
Soon thereafter, I packed my bags and headed East.
And this, dear reader, is the point at which you need to pick up my book.