When I was three years old and living in Singapore, I would go to the Berenstein Bears section of the bookstore and, reciting the my parent’s bedtime stories, pretend to read out loud to onlookers. I don’t remember these incidences - they were recounted to me with amusement by my parents years later. But I don’t doubt them. It’s not hard to believe that even at an early age I was a pretentious twat.

When I was nine, and my sister seven, my parents declared a new household rule: no reading at the dinner table. My sister and I, grumbling beneath our breaths, never stopped stealing glances at books placed covertly in our laps. This ruse never went unnoticed, but every now and then, it was ignored.

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This is how I travel

Yinka Shonibare, Refugee Astronaut

“I’m teaching my last class at 8PM tonight,” he says. “You should drop by!”

I check my map. The venue is an hour away by train. The return journey, after the train stops running, will take close to two hours. The route includes stretches of walking through a couple of neighborhoods I’ve been warned against walking through.

I hesitate.

In the privacy of my mind, I’ve painted a portrait of myself as a sort of romantic traveler. A spontaneous, adventurous type who doesn’t care where he’s going or how he gets there. Someone who scoffs at traditional itineraries, who isn’t afraid to show up in a new city with no accommodation, no travel arrangements, and no plans.

A cherry picked record of my travels might present such a face, but many of my adventures are more a result of poor planning and mismanaged finances than an actual devil-may-care attitude to exploring the globe.

Most days, I’m Christopher Columbus discovering India on the wrong side of the world.

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