That Time I Discovered The Power of Disconnecting

For the first time, since high school, I decided to enter a writing competition. World Nomads had a fantastic opportunity to win an internship with a Lonely Planet writer in Australia that I couldn’t pass up. Even though I haven’t tried to write “story telling” style pieces in years, I thought I may as well give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

Unfortunately, my piece did not get chosen for one of the three scholarships. But I thought I would share it with you anyway. It was a bit of a challenge trying to find a story that fitted in with the theme that I thought was worth telling. I procrastinated until a few days before final submissions were due, even second guessing my desire to enter the competition in the first place.

But true to my tenacious nature, I stuck it out and ended up writing about a moment on a rooftop during my trip to India in February this year. I really enjoyed taking a break from my usual “listicle” type posts and would love to know if you would like to see more of this on my blog!

And of course, I will be entering again next year.

The Power of Disconnecting

Here I was, standing on a rooftop in the middle of Chennai. I was completely swallowed up by the blatant poverty, pollution and culture that gave India its unique ambiance.

As the sun began to rise, the city below slowly came to life. A rooster cawed, elderly people began to make their way to the temples, cars started to make their way through the narrow streets and smoke rose from people’s homes as they broke their fast. It’s not a sight that many travelers would find on their Instagram feeds, but the view hit me with an unexpected raw intensity.

I took out my phone ready to take a picture of the scene unfolding before me – when I stopped myself. How was a picture going to capture this moment? To others not sitting here with me it would just look like another dirty city skyline. How would I begin to convey the smells, the thoughts it invoked and the rawness I was feeling right then and there? 

In a world where we are so connected all the time, it can be lonely to experience something on your own and not be able to share it. But at the same time, it brings with it a certain power. This moment was mine. I had finally found an authentic experience I always craved, one that no one else could ever replicate in the same way.

As I sat there and let my eye wander over the horizon, I reflected on what my trip to India had been like so far. It had been an unexpected eye-opener that forced me to take off my rose tinted glasses and discover the real world. I couldn’t swipe left to avoid the poverty, the destruction of pollution and the claustrophobia of over-population.

This realisation helped me see that this isn’t a negative. It shouldn’t hinder tourism to India, but rather grow it. We need real and intense experiences like this to connect us to our humanity and help us grow as global citizens. A global connectivity that goes beyond just changing our profile pictures when tragedies strike, to developing a culture of wanting to do more than just sharing a photo to make a change in the world.

On that rooftop in Chennai, I discovered a fleeting moment that had a profound impact on how I saw the world. I saw beauty and found wisdom amongst the ugly facets of daily human life. I learnt to sit through the disconnected pieces of time and simply allow myself to discover.

Discover more about myself, how I wanted to travel and the people I share this planet with. 

READ NEXT: A Quick Guide to Train Travel in South India


Lauren is the co-founder of Wanderlust Movement. When she isn’t writing about her adventures around the world, she is preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
Or stalking penguins.

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