My eyes glazed over as the perpetrator continued his relentlessly probing. I tried my best to shelf my bucket-load of British Reserve but it just wasn’t happening.
‘Err…I’m a travel writer’, I mustered quietly in response to his latest inquiry.
Oh no here it comes, I thought, the onslaught of a rejuvenated barrage. I was well-acquainted with this scenario by now, despite having spent several hours trying to avoid answering the million dollar question.
Never one to miss a cue my new acquaintance (if only!) – a red-faced Aussie on the same Balinese cookery course as me – decided to fund his predictability. With the edge of his apron disappearing somewhere into the depths of his overcooked sauce my companion set upon his verbal tirade, entirely ignorant to the teacher’s obvious distain.
‘How exciting! I bet you have been to so many exotic places. You must have heard of Yakutsk. My son and I went there last year; it was just remote and beautiful….’
I smiled and nodded, wishing that mental power alone was enough to end the conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against the kindness of strangers. Someone offering me a seat on the tube or a passerby telling me the time never goes amiss. However, the tireless oversharing that goes with a travel writer’s job description had suddenly become a bit too much.
As I silenced my companion with a single glance that ensured him the conversation was well and truly over, I went back to stirring my saucepan in blissful silence. My mind trailed off and I began to wonder when talking about travel had become such a chore. Of course I still loved it; the thrill of adventure, the lure of something new. I even relished the challenge of verbalising a near-inexplicable experience. Most of the time. However, it was the inability to simply breathe in a place without first reaching for a pen and paper, the lack of exploration minus the constant camera-click and, of course, the blatant oversharing that had begun to grate.
I shook my head and suddenly scolded myself, for multiple reasons. Firstly, I had managed to burn my onions. Whoops. Secondly, I realised that I wouldn’t trade my job for anything else in the world. The prospect of staring at the back of a boardroom or some Balinese rice terraces made things all a little clearer.
Suddenly, I decided to throw British caution to the wind and engage my newfound friend.
‘So what do you do, then?’ I asked attentively.
His indignant eyebrow raise told me everything I needed to know.
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