I just can’t think of anyone who enjoys routine. The monotony of everyday life gets to us, drags us down and we always seem to look for an opportunity to ‘get away from the routine’ and to ‘recharge our batteries’.
I am no different. In my life I have always wished that my life would be new and exciting each day and totally without routine. I never ever thought I’d hear myself think – “GIVE ME BACK MY ROUTINE”. I could have sworn that that would NEVER happen but the human mind is just so fickle and yes I am very human.
My life is totally predictable – I wake up, pack lunch for my family, leave home at 7am, catch the same train (same compartment) every morning, start work at 8am, finish at 5pm, catch the same train (same compartment) in the evening, come back home, eat, clean up and sleep. I wish my life away every week day as I count down to the weekend.
As a singer of some merit, I got an offer to sing for a dance collaboration and the offer included the lure of travel to Malaysia, Singapore and India, I literally jumped at it without a second thought. Bring it on I said!! Life was going to be fun – at least for one month when I travelled. I could not wait for the tour to start!
Sure enough the day arrived. A group of 7 of us boarded our flights to KL. The mood was really upbeat. We giggled and chatted all the way to KL completely oblivious of the racket we were creating. On arrival, we were taken to our hotel. This was to be our home for the next 15 days. The hotel couldn’t have been in a better location – right in the middle of all the action!
It was nearly midnight but the night was still young. We were so excited with our new neighbourhood that we decided to explore. At least 50 massage parlours on both sides of the street within 50 metres of the hotel, masseurs and masseuses soliciting customers for a massage (with promises of ‘happy endings’ if customers so desired), nightlife that never seemed to stop, buskers performing at midnight, artists drawing portraits of tourists and a snake charmer offering tourists the opportunity to pose for pictures with his pets draped on their shoulders. It was all so different and exciting!! This is what I need I told myself – a break from routine. Needless to say, I was very excited. The next morning, I was very happy that I could sleep in. I will recount our next 15 days day by day to take you through my fickle nature …
Day 2 – I woke up around 8.30am and ate breakfast. Breakfast excited me as it was all you can eat breakfast and someone else made it for me. The spread was amazing. So I ate as much as I could. I even jumped up and down for the food to settle so I could eat more. I walked around the shops all day and partied with the rest of the group until 2am. God this was the life. This is what I’d missed …
Day 3 – Ate breakfast, walked around the city exploring until noon. Went to rehearsal at 1pm. I didn’t get decent vegetarian food (it was hard coz the Malaysian definition of vegetarian and my definition of vegetarian were vastly different). Getting food at regular times was hard, but who cared. Food really wasn’t that important. I was having fun! I really looked forward to our performance in a couple of days. After rehearsal, I walked around the city again in wonder, walking into every shop, every alley – there was no fear of night. It was a very happening and safe city!
Day 4 – Woke up late, ate breakfast, walked around the city again. Went to the hall to test sound and rehearse, came back, explored the city at night again and started a new activity – played cards until 3am. I started whinging about not eating regularly and how that made me sick. On tour, there was no pattern to eating – we ate when we could find time between rehearsals or when we found something interesting. I started missing the routine of having breakfast at 7am, lunch at noon and dinner at 7pm.
Days 5 to 9 – Breakfast became very hard to eat. I wished I could just have my normal cereal and milk instead. I went to the hall each day and performed, got great feedback, went to dinner, came back at midnight and out of force of habit went out exploring again but what I saw didn’t excite me as much. It was beginning to look same old same old … Lack of sleep started to catch up with me and I was getting very cranky and irritable. I also missed my family very much. As I was feeling lonely, I played cards with the guys again until 3am.
Days 10 to15 – The monotony of the performances was really bothering me. It was a huge task to motivate myself to perform the same items with renewed energy. I sulked and said – I can’t do this over and over again. The rest of my group said – “We know, we feel the same way. Just 7 programmes to go acca”. The lack of sleep was seriously bothering me. I was getting sick of living out of my suitcase and getting my laundry done was starting to become a bother. I tried to start a routine within that existence but it was hard as I was at the mercy of my group of 7. The very same breakfast that appealed to me 10 days ago was suddenly very greasy and yucky. I craved simple food. Lunch and dinner which didn’t seem to matter to me earlier on was becoming a big deal – how many days at end could I explain my ‘quirky’ vegetarianism to the predominantly carnivore Malaysians who just didn’t seem to get it! I craved my routine diet of rice and yoghurt. My wonder at the night life waned too – I saw the same worn out masseurs, the same artists, the same snake charmer, the same activity and I was increasingly irritable. I was constantly on short fuse, reacted at the slightest provocation and did things uncharacteristic of me. I actually yelled at a lot of people on tour which is surprising because at heart I am a pacifist who abhors confrontation. The reason I figured was that I missed home. I missed my family, my bed, my balcony, my garden, everything associated with my home really. I was ready to come back home to my routine because this unpredictable lifestyle was getting to me.
Folks it took me exactly 10 days to do a complete about turn. It is completely different matter that I did another about turn when I reached Chennai but then that is my home. So while it was a break from routine, I was home and happy. I had my own room, my own bed, a washing machine and good vegetarian food but even so, I think I would have wanted to get back to my routine after a couple of weeks!
I’d always envied the lifestyles of jet setting pop musicians and performers but this trip threw a new perspective. Even though they probably had homes, a complete new wardrobe in every part of the world and food wouldn’t have been such an issue, I did feel for them. Singing the same numbers over and over again and living their lives in the hope that critics would be kind to them and people would love them can’t be easy. It would completely kill any joy in performing and seriously all the mass adoration cannot be worth the price they pay.
As I’ve just come back from this tour, my routine existence seems fantastic and I am thriving on it. I’ve even watched two movies in less than 2 days but I am sure that in 3 months I’ll whinge and moan again. Family beware!! I will know in my heart though that the grass is always greener on the other side!