Saturday, 22 May 2010

Not a rant about students



A nice little encounter with a student today. A large, slightly battered looking van is parked further down the street, and a young man with dreadlocks and some arty tattoos is often busy doing rather vague DIY-type jobs inside it.  I pass it as I walk the dog, but haven't done more than give a neighbourly smile. The word on the street is that he's converting it into a travelling home.

Well, that sounds thrilling! I thought with a tinge of envy, and very '60s! Today, seeing it parked in the back lane, wide open, with a portable CD player going, not too loudly, I stopped and spoke to him. And before I knew it, I was invited onto the electric up-and-down platform thing in order to step inside, and be Told All About It by an extremely pleasant boy, J, who was obviously delighted to be asked about his dream project. Yes indeed, he was turning it into his travelling home.


His parents had tried and failed to get to India in the '60s in a converted van, reaching as far as Turkey; J wanted to give it a go himself, also aiming for India. He was just at the stage of insulating the sides of the van, and sketched out for me with waving arms his plans for a small kitchen, windows and what he termed 'legal seats'. Touchingly, he said it was a good excuse to buy some great tools. 

He thinks it will take a year to get the van ready for the trip. I tried not to think about how old the van was looking now, and how it might cope with a voyage of more than 4000 miles, followed by the pandemonium of Indian roads.

I've been on Indian roads. Nerves of steel are required, plus an updated will and a resigned attitude. In 1991 I had all of those necessities:




At the end of our rather jolly 15-minute conversation, I knew quite a lot about J, and I came away with an invitation to keep looking in on his progress, but I also received a wonderful reminder of the power and reach of youthful dreams before the harsher realities of life impact on them. I've been thinking since of how easily that happens to us when we're young, the pressures to conform, get a job, make money, steadily overtaking and eroding the dream, the wide horizon, the actual living of life in pursuit of freedom.

I hope he doesn't lose that lovely optimism and energy; I hope he finishes his travelling home, and I hope he does make that trip. 

Later, I walked down the lane and left my old map of India on the platform of the van for him; a tiny contribution to someone else's dream.


16 comments:

judy in ky said...

Such an interesting encounter you had with the young man. I like your enthusiasm for his youth and optimism. It's nice to see, isn't it? How sweet that you left him your map. Very nice post. I hope you will tell us more about his progress in the future.

Do you remember my post about seeing the old 60s-style VW bus on a rural road here? It had a license plate from Washington State (a long way from Kentucky), a canoe was strapped to the roof, and the passenger was playing a saxaphone as they rode on down the road.

PG said...

That was a lovely thing to do, I am sure he was very touched! I'm also pretty sure he'll get to India and survive, there's usually a good network with these things. I'm glad I didn't give up my (once youthful) dreams now that they are finally happening, though I never imagined it would take 26 years to get there!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

It's a wonderful age to be ! He sounds as though he's thought of everything and I hope he can cope as well with any future hiccups , while enjoying the adventure thoroughly .

Pam said...

It is indeed a wonderful age to be.The optimistic "no problem" and can-do attitude of that age with a whole big future ahead. Good luck to him, and his wonderful enthusiasm.

Von said...

Lovely post! I hope he gets there and learns what he needs to.
Had a similar encounter with a young man who was a son of an ex-neighbour of my first Ma-in-law.He parked his van, showed us all his improvements, played his Didg for us and helped out around the place a few times in exchange for a shower and hot meal.Part of the gigantic unofficial network of parents and kids across the world..the kids adventuring, the parents hoping someone does the same for their kids.Peace and love live!

Isabelle said...

I've never had nerves of steel. But I'm glad someone has. Good luck to him.

And the mouse. How did you actually catch it, though? Or did it just give up? I can see that the choice between being chased by 4 cats and going, paws raised, into a cafetiere, might not be too hard.

Deborah said...

This was a wonderful little story, Rachel! I liked the map gift a lot - passing the torch from one adventurer to the next. You're my kind of person.

Rattling On said...

I recognise those roads, but from Russia. I was actually hit by a car when I was on the pavement! Hope he gets to India in his mobile home.

Lucille said...

That touched a few chords. I never took to the open road unless you count walking longish distances in the Lake District from camp site to campsite. I regret my present day timidity. I got in a tizz yesterday on a perfectly 'safe' walk because the sun was getting low and the directions were too vague for my liking. Lovely that you gave him your map.

Susan Frances said...

I know that you probably hope to have moved away to your " garden" before he sets off, but how about if you got him to email/facebook ( whatever) occasionally and you could then tell us how he is getting on. The unadventurous types among us could live the dream from the safety of our own homes, and he would know he had lots of " mums" looking out for him! Lovely idea to give him your map .

the veg artist said...

I envy the young man too. Not that I want to go to India in a rickety van, but to have that sense that all things are possible.

Sue said...

I hope he gets there too and that life doesn't get in the way.

Writing Without Periods! said...

What a great story. It is best to be grateful than to worry.
Thanks for the inspiration.
Mary

elizabethm said...

Great for him to have his dreams, and I am sure he will do it. Sometimes you just need to go for it. I liked the giving him your map too, pass it on!

Lesley said...

Awww, how lovely to be young and hopeful. Not that I'm ancient and pessimistic but I'm sort of heading that way....

More power to him and more power to you for engaging with him. Bet he was well chuffed to have the opportiunity to show off a bit!

Lesley x

Poshyarns said...

Oh you brought a tear of mixed happiness and regret to my eye. Beautifully expressed tale, the map was a lovely gesture.

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