I’m either Mad, Bad or Sad but it appears that I have a strange addiction to hosteling. I know that by my age I should be tucked up in bed in an expensive or mid-range boutique Hotel but I find those places so asinine. The furniture too sleek and the service too clean. You know that nothing will go wrong and are left with a dull sense of safety that guarantees all will be plastic over the next few days.
It’s the same with these gentrified neighbourhoods, as soon as I catch sight of an original Victorian sash window I’m off. You can guarantee that the people who live there are all from the same background, dress in a similar fashion, and work at the same companies. Nothing goes wrong or has the potential to go wrong, and offers a dull contentment that can never give rise to a unique creative idea. That’s why I seek solace in graffiti-sprayed bus stops and towns that have a prefabricated feel about them. No this is not poverty porn or gaining some sense of superiority in the knowledge that I don’t have to live like this.
It’s the potential for something different to arise than you would expect which keeps the mind in an open state of expectation and gives rise to further creative moments. When it comes to hosteling I enjoy the changing faces and conversations that occur when not separated by a drone-like waitress who is forced to smile for a few pennies more because the hotel chain refuses to pay her a living wage.
Happiness is more genuine when there is no pressure applied. Admittedly sleep can be tough sometimes depending on the snore factor and late home revellers too drunk to climb the frail ladder that hoists them to the bed above. If I can I’m always on the bottom, less I be swayed by a larger person above me, and then it feels like I’m sleeping on a yacht. The bunk rooms remind me of my younger days when I stayed at a boarding school. There were fifteen to twenty of us living side by side in a fifty-meter dormitory.
I remember the first night the lights went out. Away from my parents at the age of nine. The silence and then the whispers from our new neighbours. The laughter and then the dares. Maybe that’s what I seek, a return to my childhood days, a refusal to grow old. A still nurturing desire to seek new experiences much against the body’s disapproval. Now back to that hostel and the new faces changing from young backpacker who has just left the West for the first time seeking new adventures, to a family from the countryside in town for a friend’s wedding. Unconcerned as they straighten their suits and dresses, prepare fresh bread, fruits and salad neatly on the only spare table left sticky with beer by the grab-and-go youth from the more wealthy West.
The world is not as large for them as it is for our richer cousins. This is when I catch glimpses of humanity, while others are engaged in loose talk or surfing online. The young kid from Asia looking suspicious and me with my paranoia. Can I trust him? Is he good? As I place my laptop onto the table beside him. He quickly lifts it up and wipes the small drops of water from the table that was underneath my laptop. He smiles and I smile back and I catch a glimpse of who we really are.