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Figure it out!

Chris travels around the world to experience it firsthand. He talks passionately about how the world looks from the other side of the bar. Read on our interview #2 below -

Keshav: You have been away from home for 2 years now. What keeps you going, away from home? What brings you to different places, like India?

Chris: I get that question a lot. Most people when they go on trips and stuff, they go for a few weeks at a time, maybe 2 weeks, take off from work and you go and you see a little bit, not a lot. So I guess it goes back to when I was young. I remember going travelling couple of times when I was really young and seeing completely different parts in another country and when you see the differences, you compare to your home country and I didn’t know, I had no idea that people live like this. You figure everything is like where you come from. So that's where I got the bug, I guess. And I have always been interested in other cultures and traditions. So I always wanted to just travel. When I went to University and studied, I basically tried to find something that would lead me into travelling, somehow. And after that I got a job and one day, I finally said, No, I don't need to wait for a job. I don't need to wait for a certain kind of specific job. I can just go. I want to see the world, what am I waiting for? Why can't I just go? So I went. I just left. And the plan has been to see, as much as I can. You say what keeps me away from home. It's not like I want to stay away from home! I love it. I love Calgary, I love it. A  lot of people do these things and it seems like you are trying to figure out what it is you want out of life, what is it you want to do, and I had that same kind of mentality. Once I started it, I opened myself up, I changed a lot. I started opening myself up a lot to any kind of experience and just saying Yes, I'll do everything at least once and that way I know, I am sort of learning..The main goal is to know what is it you want to do but the way to get there is by knowing what it is you don't want to do and the only way to do that is by doing as much as you can and figuring out, do I enjoy this? Do I not enjoy this? Is this for me? Is this not for me? So, maybe I will find a place that I like to live in more than I do in Calgary, but so far I haven't.

Keshav: Aw

Chris: No, no. Everywhere has been amazing. If anything happened in Canada where I live, if shit hit the fan and I had to move, there are couple of places I would have no hesitation I will go to, by the way. But Calgary, I just love it. I actually grew up in another city and lived in Calgary only for about four years but as soon as I moved there, I just fell in love with the city and that part of the country. I love that part of the country and it is home. I mean it's the family, it's the people. It's the people who make the place. So my friends and family are there. It's one of the things with travelling - I go off and I want to see the stuff and make the most of it, enjoy it - people say, don't you get homesick? Don't you want to go back home? Of course I do! I would love to see. And then you are thinking, Yes I would love to go back home, but why would I want to go back home? It's to visit the people, it's to visit the friends and family, to see them again because I miss them, extremely, I miss them a lot. The reason you get homesick is there's a little bit of loneliness in travelling, you're on your own. You don't have that circle around you, that security blanket and you crave that every once in a while. People need that. But the way I see it is, it's always gonna be there. When I choose to finish this, as soon as I go home, I know it's gonna be the same and if I were to end this early just because of that feeling, I would go back home and then in a few weeks, I would be restless again. I just wanna leave again. I have seen these people now, and I am with them now, now they are starting to get on my nerves. I love them to death but there's still so much more I wanted to see. And I figured, why can't they come out and visit me? Why do I have to go back home? And that's one of the things I've been trying to do is to get people to come out and visit me. Everybody asks when are you coming home and I say I don't know, when are you gonna come visit me? You have got everything you need there. Take a couple of weeks off, just drop it. Why it is so hard to just drop two weeks and come travel with me in a completely different place and then go back to it. We get that thrill of what you want. It's been the best decision I have ever made.               

Keshav: It must have been a big and a very hard decision. You completed your studies, you had a job in your hand. You decided to leave everything behind and just

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Chris travels around the world to experience it firsthand. He talks passionately about how the world looks from the other side of the bar. Read on our interview #2 below -

Keshav: You have been away from home for 2 years now. What keeps you going, away from home? What brings you to different places, like India?

Chris: I get that question a lot. Most people when they go on trips and stuff, they go for a few weeks at a time, maybe 2 weeks, take off from work and you go and you see a little bit, not a lot. So I guess it goes back to when I was young. I remember going travelling couple of times when I was really young and seeing completely different parts in another country and when you see the differences, you compare to your home country and I didn’t know, I had no idea that people live like this. You figure everything is like where you come from. So that's where I got the bug, I guess. And I have always been interested in other cultures and traditions. So I always wanted to just travel. When I went to University and studied, I basically tried to find something that would lead me into travelling, somehow. And after that I got a job and one day, I finally said, No, I don't need to wait for a job. I don't need to wait for a certain kind of specific job. I can just go. I want to see the world, what am I waiting for? Why can't I just go? So I went. I just left. And the plan has been to see, as much as I can. You say what keeps me away from home. It's not like I want to stay away from home! I love it. I love Calgary, I love it. A  lot of people do these things and it seems like you are trying to figure out what it is you want out of life, what is it you want to do, and I had that same kind of mentality. Once I started it, I opened myself up, I changed a lot. I started opening myself up a lot to any kind of experience and just saying Yes, I'll do everything at least once and that way I know, I am sort of learning..The main goal is to know what is it you want to do but the way to get there is by knowing what it is you don't want to do and the only way to do that is by doing as much as you can and figuring out, do I enjoy this? Do I not enjoy this? Is this for me? Is this not for me? So, maybe I will find a place that I like to live in more than I do in Calgary, but so far I haven't.

Keshav: Aw

Chris: No, no. Everywhere has been amazing. If anything happened in Canada where I live, if shit hit the fan and I had to move, there are couple of places I would have no hesitation I will go to, by the way. But Calgary, I just love it. I actually grew up in another city and lived in Calgary only for about four years but as soon as I moved there, I just fell in love with the city and that part of the country. I love that part of the country and it is home. I mean it's the family, it's the people. It's the people who make the place. So my friends and family are there. It's one of the things with travelling - I go off and I want to see the stuff and make the most of it, enjoy it - people say, don't you get homesick? Don't you want to go back home? Of course I do! I would love to see. And then you are thinking, Yes I would love to go back home, but why would I want to go back home? It's to visit the people, it's to visit the friends and family, to see them again because I miss them, extremely, I miss them a lot. The reason you get homesick is there's a little bit of loneliness in travelling, you're on your own. You don't have that circle around you, that security blanket and you crave that every once in a while. People need that. But the way I see it is, it's always gonna be there. When I choose to finish this, as soon as I go home, I know it's gonna be the same and if I were to end this early just because of that feeling, I would go back home and then in a few weeks, I would be restless again. I just wanna leave again. I have seen these people now, and I am with them now, now they are starting to get on my nerves. I love them to death but there's still so much more I wanted to see. And I figured, why can't they come out and visit me? Why do I have to go back home? And that's one of the things I've been trying to do is to get people to come out and visit me. Everybody asks when are you coming home and I say I don't know, when are you gonna come visit me? You have got everything you need there. Take a couple of weeks off, just drop it. Why it is so hard to just drop two weeks and come travel with me in a completely different place and then go back to it. We get that thrill of what you want. It's been the best decision I have ever made.               

Keshav: It must have been a big and a very hard decision. You completed your studies, you had a job in your hand. You decided to leave everything behind and just go without a plan. Without a date when you are coming back home. So it must have been a difficult decision for you to make?

Chris: It was probably the hardest decision. Haha..definitely the hardest decision I made. I realised that that's the only way to…how do I explain this….The reason that definitely helped me move and go, is that I knew I needed it. I needed it in my life. I am not gonna kid you, I had a great life growing up. I had a wonderful family, great country to live in with a lot of opportunities. My mother sacrificed tons so that my siblings and I could have every opportunity we needed to go to school...I had a good life and I was happy but I knew I wasn't as happy as I wanted to be. There was something that was missing and there was a sense of restlessness. I knew I always wanted to travel and I just had that I have to go do something. I have to leave. So that's what made it easy but the hard part is always taking that first step. Where am I gonna go? How long am I gonna go for? The biggest thing was failure. To me that was the biggest hurdle that scared me. If I do this, what happens if I fail? What happens if I leave and it doesn't work out the way I have it in my head and two weeks from now I end up back here at home and I have to explain to people I couldn't do it. I couldn't. I thought I could and I couldn't. And that was the biggest thing that was stopping me from doing it. It was the fear of failure. But I knew that if I didn't do that, it will be even worse. The failure hurts you for few months at most, being generous, if not couple of weeks but you can bounce back, you know I can probably get my job back, get back in the groove, find something else that I can do. Whereas if I didn't do it, 60 years down the line, I will still be questioning myself, Why didn't I? I think about this, when I was 18, I was pushing to go into school. That's the whole mentality, go graduate from high school, you get into a school and you study for four years, get good grades and then you go out and you find a job, and you find a good job. And then when you find a good job that you're gonna do for the next 50 years of your life, you find a family, and then, that's it. And I just wanted to travel and I had been pushed into going to school. I wanted to travel back then and even now I question what if I had said no and travel when I were 18. I could have all this 10 years earlier. And who knows where I would have been now. But in hindsight, it's twenty-twenty. This was probably the good time for me to do it, not only because I am more responsible and I am more appreciative, I am more stable and I actually have funds to do it whereas if I would have done this at 18, I would have had a good time but most of it would have been partying and be a reckless 18 year old as we were. So I wouldn't have appreciated going to these different places and seeing these different cultures as much back then. So I guess it kind of worked out, somehow.        

Keshav: You said you often think why can't your family come and visit you instead of them always asking why don’t you come home. Is it all in your head or you actually have this kind of conversation with your family and is it a very pronounced rebellion against them?

Chris: My family so far hasn't. My older brother, he wants to. He's incredibly busy but he is the one actually trying to figure out how to come visit me. My younger brother just graduated from high school and he has nothing but opportunities. I am trying to get him to come out and we are trying to plan something too. But it's my mom. If there's any guilt that I feel for leaving, it's for my mom. My friends, whatever, they are friends. They are gonna see me, I am gonna see them. Most of the people, even though they miss me and want me to come home and visit them, are generally excited of what I am doing. My mom is too, she's hell lot more supportive than I thought. She is excited but every time I talk to her, I can tell she just wants me to be near her, be back home. It's a mother thing, right? So I feel most guilt out of that. I feel like I left her. I feel bad. But I want her to come out. Come out so we can see each other finally and you get the sense of relief a little bit but also travel and see the other part of the world. She hasn't travelled that much. I would love to see the look on her face. I want to really get her out specially to south east Asia. She loves nature. She loves rivers and things like that. So if she would have come to Vietnam or Phillipines, I know she would have loved it as it's so beautiful out there. Then may be it would have given her a better understanding of why I am doing it, why I have to keep doing it and why I have chosen not to go back home, so give her like an Ooo Okay like that kind of eureka moment Aaaah...I see. I see why he is doing it. I try to skype with her, I try to talk to her every day. But the main goal right now is just try to get my mom to get out. So once I am in Europe, if I end up in Europe, I would like to definitely have her come out.          

Keshav: What do you think keeps your mom from going out? Why couldn't she be in South East Asia when you wanted her there?

Chris: So our whole family is from El Salvador, Central America. She is an immigrant from there. I am a first generation Canadian.  That's what I am saying, I got my bug of travelling at a young age because we used to go back to visit our family. I was five years old the first time I went and then almost every year we would go back for Christmas celebration. And that's how I got that bug, introducing to other culture and things like that. When she travels, it's to go El Salvador, to visit family, to go back home to see her family. She's gone to a couple of weddings like she has gone to Cuba, Mexico, but for the resort thing. The past year, a lot of family stuff has been going on, so she's had to go back a lot more often than usual and I mean, it isn't cheap to go back, right? So the funds are down for her to come out and visit me, I can understand why she hasn't. But now, within the next year, it seems like things should work out at some point. If she doesn't come out and visit me now, then I'll be wondering what excuses I'll be given! Come on, you have no excuses now, there's no reason for you to not come out and visit me. Yeah that's pretty much it.

               

Keshav: Do you see two different lives - one which you have had in Canada and one which you could have had if you grew up in El Salvador? Are you grateful or any regret?

Chris: Ooo I mean no, I am incredibly fortunate to have grown in Canada because the situation in El Salvador is….it's just terrible. If I would have grown up in El Salvador, who knows if I would have made it till 21. I wouldn’t even be alive at this point.

Keshav: Why do you say so?

Chris: It's incredibly dangerous. Lot of gang violence there. They (my parents) left because there was civil war in the 80s. After the civil war, there was bit of an economic and power void, which got filled up by very corrupt politicians and drug trade. So you have cartels like you have in Mexico and you have the drugs in South America and Central America, the middle part is kind of like connecting the two. So you have the gangs which have got in there and took control of situation with a lot of money involved, and they have come to power, and they run the place but they are incredibly violent and incredibly dangerous. The difference between lower class and upper class is massive. It's massive. My family came from a far lower middle class, so if I was born there, it would be incredibly difficult for us to get out of there. That's the thing - a lot of younger people, they have no choice but to turn to gangs as a way of surviving. So I know I am very fortunate to have been raised in Canada.              

Keshav: Canada is generally known as a country which is very much open to immigrants and very friendly. Do you have any childhood memories or instances when you faced any difficulty as an outsider or you gelled in right?

Chris: Where I grew up, no! Actually it's surprising. So Alberta is like Texas of Canada. We got tons of cowboys. The industry is basically cattle ranchers, grain farms and oil. So you figure a place like that would be very conservative, especially to foreigners or outsiders. When I grew up, my friends were from all over the place. Most of them were born there but their parents were from Vietnam, parts of Africa, the Middle East, other different parts of Asia, all over Europe plus Central and South America. The city I grew up in is very close to few of the First Nation Reserves. So we have a huge first nation population. So it was a very diverse, diverse situation. So you just get used to it. But it's weird because I remember going to Vancouver and Toronto, the bigger cities, you assume there'll be more of it, I think it’s because people stick to what they know, what feels safe. You are in a new place, you don't know the langauge, you don't know the culture, so you'll gravitate to people with similar interests. So you go to these places, you'll find that these communities are thriving, they are amazing, whereas in my city, there are not enough of each one. So these people for some reason went to this place, there's not enough of other people like them, they're pretty much on their own. They had to assimilate to the rest of the culture very quickly. The kids grow up together with no bias, no prejudice, no barriers at all brought down on person like you're different than I am. So I am gonna stick to my kind of people. No. If I don't wanna be with your kind of people and if I want to be with just my kind of people, I'll be lonely.     

Keshav: What did you do before you started out on travels?

Chris: For employement?

Keshav: Yes

Chris: I was a bar manager

Keshav: How is it being a bar manager?

Chris: I learned a lot working behind the bar. A lot about people and about myself also. It's funny - people tell you to go to school to learn things, right? But it's all technical - read out a book etc. How do you get experience? Experience is what you need. During these years of travelling, I have learnt more than I did four years at school. And I learnt so much about people when bar tending, nobody could have taught me. You're basically there and your whole job is to ensure that people have a good time. You want people to enjoy themselves so they keep drinking more, they keep spending more. You have to learn how to connect with people, how to read people and how to deal with people and all sort of situations. I knew liqueur and that helped a lot but I what I had to learn very quickly was how to deal with people. I feel there are two different kind of people in the industry - the people who are there just to make money- You need a job, lot of time it's students, you’re going to school, you need a job and they're very flexible with the schedule. So they go in, put the time card in and then check out at the end and that's it. And then there are people who are really good at it, who know how to deal with people. In North America, it's a huge tipping culture, so if you're good at it, then you could make a lot of money. You can make really, really lot of money. It's also an industry where a female would make more than men, obviously. If you are female and really know what you are doing, you could walk away with a lot of money. And something I had to learn very quickly was if I had to be good at this, I have to learn how to read people. It's funny that before doing all this, I was an introvert. I think I'm still introvert, depending on how many drinks I have had. But I was very quiet and I kind of kept to myself. At school, I was always the good kid. And then being here, behind the bar, you have to open up. You have to really open up. Working at a bar, you get every kind of people! Especially when I worked in Sydney, I was working at a place which was a rock ‘n roll club but it's right in the middle of downtown CBD which is known as the financial district, and we were a rock ‘n roll club. So we would get these misfits of rock n roll, these grungy hunks but you'd also have people coming down from work, wanting drinks after work and they're wearing nice suits, expensive suits and also foreigners, tons of foreigners in Sydney and all of them just mixing in one area. So you really learn how to deal with people, every kind of person. My conversation skills got really better. It would be very beneficial I think for you to start bar tending a little bit, coz honestly, you learn there that best way to have a conversation is by listening. You ask the right questions. Right now, we are having a conversation and all you're doing is only asking the questions. I am doing all the talking.

Keshav: Hahahha….and I am enjoying it!

Chris: See. It's not only about asking the right question, you have to be genuinely interested. I could be sitting there and I could ask the typical question I ask to anybody who walks in, How you doing? How was your day? There's no enthusiasm. I learnt, if you want to connect with a person, you have to be genuinely interested. You have to find things that will interest you in this person across from you. So you get into details, you start asking questions, you start with the generics of course How was your day? How you doing? Oh, What do you do? I know nothing about what they do and all I am asking is the most random question about it, and then you start going down that rabbit hole. You get deeper and deeper and that connection gets stronger and stronger. People tend to trust you more and they come back. You have a connection. I learnt that from working behind the bar. I also learnt a lot of patience and tolerance. I didn't have a lot of patience. I still don’t think I have, but I am working on it. But I did learn patience and tolerance from working back there coz you deal with the worst of worst, especially when you add alcohol to it, those people get even worse.

Keshav: Even the good guy becomes bad

Chris: Oh! You can start off with the nicest guy and then few hours down, he will become the biggest asshole you've met. Switches like that. Alcohol does that. You have to learn how to deal with these situations. So I learnt how to be patient. You deal with so much of it that it, kind of wears you down into thinking it isn’t as bad as it can be. Those judgements you make as soon as somebody walks through that door, I had to learn that those judgements aren’t always true. Some of the people who walk through the door, they may not be dressed the best, they'll be little scrubby, worn out clothes, I talk to them still - one of the best friends I've ever known. But then I met people who come through that door and they're wearing the nicest suits and they are done up really well and at the end of the night, after a few drinks, you kind of learn that this is not a good person, not a genuine person. So you don't know about somebody until you get to know him. One of the things I learnt is that anybody can be your best friend, anybody has the potential to be your best friend if you take the time to listen to him. If you take the time to actually try to get to know him as a person, he could be your best friend for life. So I had that tolerance - doesn’t matter how somebody is, how somebody looks, you have to give him that chance, that opportunity. I learnt that and I also learnt how to deal with conflict. I had to learn conflict for the very first time. You are dealing with people who are drunk and a lot of time they get really aggressive and I haven't dealt with anything like that. Well may be a few times but nothing like on that level where I had to be the professional one. As a young male, the first thing that comes to mind when somebody is aggressive and violent is to be aggressive yourself. But then you're in this situation as a manager. I have to deal with this situation in the most professional way. I can't just be rude to the person. I can't be violent at all. They can sue us. So you have to really learn how to maneuver your way around and deal with people and calm them down in a proper way. You wanna learn how to deal with people, you go bar tending!

Keshav: Are there any hazards of the trade? May be you get addicted to the alcohol you serve or you grow a hatred towards it because you do it all the time?

Chris: Definitely. The lifestyle is definitely different. It's the hours. You're working nights. Most people work in the day and you're working nights, and it can really affect you. Everywhere it's different, like in Canada, the latest we worked was till 3 in the morning. That's not pretty late. I'll do that on a daily basis or may be 2 or 1 o clock. That's not getting home late, and you wake up later. In Sydney, I was getting home at 5 in the night, 5 in the morning, every night. And that's if we didn't go for drinks with the staff after, if we did, that'll be 8 or 9 in the morning. And I didn't know, I don't sleep in anymore. Latest I'll sleep in till is 11 or 10 in the morning. So I wouldn't get a lot of sleep. Plus your eating habits change. We only serve pizza. I ate tons of pizza. You're working these hours and it's busy busy busy busy. So you don't get a chance to eat, you just grab whatever you get, something quick. So, you're not putting anything decent into your body and you're not getting enough sleep and that really affects you.

Sydney was more of an extreme. But even at the other place, I did find that sometimes I would have to go to work but you're not gonna wanna be there all the time. No matter how much you enjoy, you're gonna have one of those days, I really can't be bothered to go in today. I just don't wanna go in. But I am not the kind of person like a lot of people who would call in I am sick, I can't come in. Can't do it. Two hours later, they're in the bar, drinking, I thought you were sick, Oo. Yeah, I felt better and you know, I had that shit off.  How stupid are you that you call in sick and you come in the bar. But I was never the kind of person to take the time off, so I'm just like No. Gotta do it. Gotta go and do it. But a lot of times, I would find that I would need a little pick-me-up. I don't drink coffee. Coffee is probably one of the only vices that I don't do! But I would have drinks. I would have drinks before you get into work, maybe even before you leave home, have a shot or a drink or go to a bar that's closeby and have a drink before you got to work. In the one in Canada, we weren't allowed to drink behind the bar or during our shifts, (smiling) well, we weren't supposed to. The one in Sydney was a craft beer place, which was perfect for me. It was such a cool ambience, I loved it because all the people there were amazing. The staff were amazing. They were really into what they were doing like they loved it. It was like family. But you walk into work and we have 9 taps, and every week about seven of those are changed. So every time you came into work and there's a new beer, the manager would grab you and say Mike, we got this new beer, you gotta try it out. Here you go. It's a full beer. Try it out! Come on! So any new beer, you just drink it! And it's quality control. You're gonna sell it to people, you might as well know how it tastes. Then throughout the shift, like mid-way through, they'll pull you many times and you're taking a shot. Drugs is big. I personally, never got into drugs. Not one of my habits. Weed every once in a while, just to kind of like mellow up. A lot of people I have worked with, for them the drug culture is huge because that is the way to keep going. Beer is only gonna do so much. Alcohol will only do so much. In Calgary, it's cocaine that's the big one. So we would have a lot of people who would come into the bar and do cocaine. Nobody talked about but you knew the people who did it. In Sydney, the thing about Australians is, it's a culture of indulgence, and there is no shame. So whatever you're into, you do it and people did their drugs and they were completely open about it. There is no shame. You'll see people go into the bathrooms, like three people go into one bathroom. What do you need three people in the bathroom for? May be your hands are cold and you need someone to hold it for you, like what is your excuse for three people go into one bathroom. Drugs take a huge toll, not only physically but financially too. That's not for me. Your nose is spending a lot of money. Your nose is the one you should worry about. But they would get into it and I would see them get into this cycle that they come in on days where they hadn't had anything yet and they look miserable, how are you going to make it through the shift? A couple of hours down the line, they go and do a couple of pumps of something and they are at that level again. But me, I didn't do it. I would feel worn down and I would just have to keep going. Have a few drinks here and there and after that 6 months in Sydney, I was so worn out like from just the eating habits, drinking and sleeping that I took a month off and I went to New Zealand and it was like recharging your battery. It's like you go to work and your battery is always at 10%, say like your phone, and you try to plug it in every once in a while! You're trying to charge it and get it as full as you can but you can never even get to 50. It never even gets to 50 and it's always going down and down and down. So finally I had that time off and I saw that the battery is fully recharged and I thought to myself why did I put myself through it? I was working five to six days a week and no matter what time you started at, everybody finished until 8 and you wouldn't finish until 4 in the morning and it took me an hour to get to work. There were days when I would start at 2 in the afternoon. Twice a week, I was working 14 hour shifts at that place so that's the toll it's been taking on me. I thought like I can never, never do it again. But now it's like Nah, I can probably do it for couple of more months if I need to! haha

Keshav: So all you need is a couple of weeks off

Chris: Yeah, and then you’re almost craving for it!     

Keshav: Which of the cities or countries that you've been to so far would you rate very highly or lowly on drinking culture?

Chris: Oh, high was Australia. Australians, they party! It's funny, Canada and Australia are very similar. We're both commonwealth, we're both very young countries. They are both very large countries with extreme weather and very small population, very sparse population. So if we have a long weekend, you have Saturday, Sunday, Monday off, in Canada, on Friday, you go and party, you go partying and have a good time. On Saturday, you go to party, go out with your friends, same thing. Sunday, it's almost like, okay, you're gonna take it easy, have a few drinks throughout the day but you relax. And then Monday is the day for relaxing, you spend it with family, you take it easy. Tuesday, you go back to work. Australians, drink hard on Friday, drink hard on Saturday, drink hard on Sunday and you drink hard on Monday and then you go back to work on Tuesday and you still drink after work on Tuesday. They'll take any excuse they get to drink. When any holiday would come up in Australia, I would ask, So what's the holiday about? And people are like I don't know. I don't know mate. You fuckin' have a drink! They just drink.

As for not drinking too much, it has to be anywhere with Muslims, obviously. Eastern Indonesia, like Java. Lot of Muslims, very hard to get drinks, so you're not gonna be drinking a lot.

Japan is a very funny place. It's a huge drinking culture. It's social thinking. You have to work as much as you can during your work week, and you have 10-12 hour shifts a day. But you're expected to go out and drink with your co-workers because it's a part of strengthening the bond. A lot of times, they'll have two or three drinks and you're done. Japanese can't really handle their liquor that well. So they would go out and they will be so drunk so quickly, it's so hilarious. The thing that I love about South East Asia or Asia in general is that a lot of people make their own liquor like rice wine, coconut wine, things like that. You go to Mongolia, you are in the middle of nowhere and you're in a tent with a girl and her family, and they have their boiled, fermented horse milk, and that's what they drink. You get a bowl and you don't sip on it. You chug it, coz there's one bowl. And nobody can have a drink until you've finished drinking too. It's really weird but there it's a part of the culture in Mongolia. Also I think the reason why we have drinking culture in Canada is because of the weather. It's cold most of the times. What are you gonna do when it's minus twenty five and the Sun is only there between 9AM and 5PM. There's nothing you can do when you have 5 feet of snow but drink. Like what else you gonna do!

It's funny you know, when I first got here to India, I met a group of people and they explained to me that your festivals go on forever. Your festivals go on for like a week. Your weddings go on for three days. I love it, that's amazing and so much fun. How come we don't do that in Canada? It's because we drink too much. Imagine if our wedding went on for three days and if our festivals went on for a week, Noo, people would have so much of alcohol poisoning, so many liver failures. We can't sustain that much drinking, we just can't do it. There's no way our festivals last that long.           

               

Keshav: I almost forgot to ask my favorite question. If you had to settle down in any of the places you've visited, where would it be?

Chris: I always see Canada as home but like I said, there are couple of places where I've been to where I'd love to live. I am very conscious when I tell people. It's because, see you go to these places and it depends on what you want. I really like authentic, genuine places, anything that's natural and beautiful. So the places I've been to, I love them because they're untouched, either culturally untouched or naturally untouched. And I am always hesitant to tell people about 'em because the reason I like them is no body is going there. I don't want people to go there. I don't want people to ruin them. Why would I like people to go!

Keshav: I can't promise I am not going there but you'll have to tell me!

Chris: No, no. I will tell you. I though New Zealand might be one. Everybody says it's beautiful, it's amazing, it's a lot like Canada. It's nice, super nice place but I don’t see myself living there. Economy is kinda shitty, you don't really get paid very well. There is a lot of nature but it's very small, small place. I like New Zealand but it just wasn't for me. When I was done in Melbourne, I had a year in Australia and I figured I'll take the last month off to go see something. Because I spent the year working, the only place I went to was west coast, Perth, for less than a week. So after Melbourne, I thought I am gonna take a month off and see some places, but I didn't know where. I knew I was gonna go to the east coast. I was gonna go up to east coast and that way, not only I will get to see the beaches, amazing beauty of east coast of Australia but the farther north I go, that much easier would be for me to fly to South East Asia. But a lot of people I met are from Tasmania. Oh, you should go, if you have got time, you should go see Tasmania. I figured why not? It's one of the things I didn't have on my agenda. Yeah, I'll go to Tasmania for a week. So I rented a car, I went there for a week. When I went, Oh, I could have spent more. A week wasn't enough! With the visa, I had a year, but if I did 3 months of farm work, then I could extend it for another year. But I thought a year was good enough for me. But I was tempted to find a farm in Tasmania so I could do my farm work in Australia, stay in Australia, coz I fell in love with it. It's one of the most beautiful places I've been to. It is a small island off the south of Australia, majority of it is national parks, very few people who live there. First few days I was there, it was flooding. So there’s hurricane and floods in top parts of the mountains. It's almost like tundra kind of brush, ferns and things like that. Then when I start driving down, you get almost jungles and forests mid-way through. And then it opens out into these white sand, blue ocean beaches, on the coast and the Sun was out again. And it was all within a day. You get through all these different topographies within a day. You can drive through all of them. And the people there are incredibly friendly. Somebody from there, and I believe him, said it's got the cleanest air and water in the world. And you can camp everywhere. They have free camping spots everywhere. It's funny because, I do miss snow, coming from Canada, I snowboard so I actually look forward to the snow, that's one thing I was missing all through. But in Tasmania, the first night I was there, I slept in my rental car and it snowed! And I wasn't prepared for it at all, I was freezing, I wasn't expecting it was gonna snow and couple of days later, I was on the beach, open, sleeping on the beach.

Amazing beer too. Awesome, amazing beer.

Some of the funniest little towns too. these towns are maybe 100 people living there and each try to find something for which they can be known for, to kind of maybe bring tourists in and put them on the map. One was known for their murals and every year they have mural competitions. So all the buildings have these amazing murals painted on the walls. They have an area, a park in the central part of the town and they have a mural set up. Every year, people would come paint these murals.  It's beautiful!

And the next town was known for its topography. It's like hedge trimmings. So they have the hedges shaped into things. You drive through and you see a train, tons of kangaroos, kwalas, dragons, people, fire trucks, giraffes, lot of things. It's just a tiny little town but it's just covered in so many things. So all these little towns, they had little things about them which made them so special and people there were amazing. So yeah, Tasmania, I can really see myself living.

The other one was Myanmar. Another place I did not have on my list. I did not plan for it. When I was in Thailand, I met a few people who had come in from there and they were telling that the borders opened only six years ago and the tourism industry is not really there. That's cool. In Thailand, it was all tourism tourism tourism. I wanted something more authentic. It was easy to get a visa, and I went in and I didn't have any expectations. The thing about Myanmar is there's so much going on, especially now if you see the news. It's a very complicated place. Very complex situation going on. What it was, were the people, the people are what making me wanna go there. The Burmese people are the most wonderful, beautiful, authentic and genuine people. In Thailand, you walk on the streets, and you smile at people and they see you as tourists or foreigners, they either don't smile back or they are like Argh. Especially if you're in Bangkok, they deal with foreigners all the time. They just smile at you. They stare as what is this stupid foreigner going to do.Whereas in Myanmar, people stare at you, but once you smile at them, you see the brightest, biggest and genuine smile, you can tell a genuine smile from a fake one. It's the most genuine, beautiful smile I've ever seen. As soon as you smile or wave, they all just wave and hello and they are happy to see you, want to talk to you. They have very little but they share everything they have. Myanmar doesn't have the best food, it's very bland, plain food. The scenery is not anything extraordinary, it's not like mountains or rivers or oceans or anything, it's a very simple landscape. Yeah, the food is nothing special, landscape is nothing crazy but it was the people, the most amazing people I've ever met and they made up ten times for it. I didn't care about the food, I didn't care about the scenery, I just wanted to spend as much time I can with these people!"

Keshav: Woah! I'm glad I asked this question! Last one, anything you wanna say to a layman who may be reading/listening or watching this interview?

Chris: Figure it out! Hahahaha

Keshav: You don't have to be a motivational speaker for this!

Chris: No no no, I know. I could say the most clichéd things like Do what you love, find your passion! But honestly, what I'll say is, figure it out! Challenge yourself, don’t just coast through life. Look for the most difficult things you can do. Push yourself to those boundaries and do things you wouldn't do. No matter how small or trivial, how frightening or how disgusting they are, go put yourself in that. Everybody seems to be looking for something. Everybody asks that question because we think someone has that answer. But really, everybody is living their own lives, everybody is on their own paths! The things that I've learnt, figured out, I had to figure them out on my own. I could have had teachers, mentors, no matter what but none of them would have shown me this path the way travelling did. Nobody is gonna do that for you, nobody is gonna hold your hand, nobody can show you the path, you have to find that for yourself. And it's not easy, it's not supposed to be, if it was, nobody would be asking. It's gonna be incredibly difficult, it's supposed to be difficult coz that's what makes it worth it. So go on, figure it out, figure it out for yourself! That's basically it.

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