Previous Episode: The Beginning
The next few days are a complete blank. I laid on my bed staring at the ceiling for hours, as day turned to night. I wanted to get out of this situation as soon as possible. One of the toughest parts of my former regimen was food control. From breakfast to dinner and snacks in between, every spoonful I took in for each meal was formulated by my nutritionist, Alessandro, and I ingested it like medicine. I sat at the table gnawing on a protein bar while slowly sipping a protein shake as I remembered food I had ate a few years back. This was at a roadside food stall in India while sitting next to a cow on the street. I could re-imagine the kids of my age playing cricket on the road. They didn’t wear shoes nor shirts and they played their sport without any other purpose but to enjoy it thoroughly. Sports should be for enjoyment, I realized, and not a stressful experience.
As all these thoughts clouded my brain, I slapped the table and stood up, I couldn’t take it anymore. The next day I woke up and told my parents I’m going to India for two months. I borrowed five hundred dollars and an economy class ticket from my dad with the goal of escaping not only from my miserable state, but also from what I felt was my parents’ financial shadow that I was living in.
On June 17th, 2017, I boarded an Emirates flight headed straight for Chennai airport. I didn’t know where I was going to stay, or what I was going to do the next day, but I felt a unique rush of independence and nervous excitement. Despite the daunting tasks ahead, I was committed to not seeking help from any family or friends in India. Before starting the trip I had reached out to a few room sharing locations. Reaching Chennai airport at three in the morning, I waited a few nervous hours not knowing if I would find a place to stay or would end up on the street. When I finally got through, the house owner on the other end of the line coolly stated that he had given the room to someone else who had paid more money. This was where my nightmare started.
After multiple desperate phone calls to many places, I finally had some luck. Since I didn’t have the luxury of time or money to take a sightseeing tour around the city to find places to stay, I frantically jumped on the first opportunity I got. But, only after taking an overpriced taxi to the address did I find out that I would have to pay four hundred dollars for two months of rent! I couldn’t believe it. I was only left with one hundred dollars to feed, transport, and take care of myself for two months. “Ok I’ll somehow manage,” I thought to myself. “At least I found a decent place to live in.” But oh was I wrong! I was expecting a small room with a regular bed, that’s it. I enter inside and find myself with barely enough space to take even two steps. The “bed” wasn’t even a real bed. It was one of the ones they use in physical therapy clinics and my six-foot frame barely fit on it. Thinking my accommodations couldn’t possibly get any worse, I slowly realized that there was no microwave or refrigerator. Next, I stumbled upon the restroom. It was shared with many other “lucky” people just like me, and it didn’t even have running water most of the time. Looking around I didn’t see a washing machine so, like a primitive, I had to wash my clothes by hand. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something scamper across the floor. I soon realized that it was a rat! I couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into.
Next Episode: Earning My First Penny