Adventure Thai(me)

Hola amigos,

It’s been a few days since I last wrote, and quickly realizing how easy it can be to simply push writing off for a day or two, until it gets to a point where it feels overwhelming to write anything at all. Here’s a very brief update on my first couple days, with many more posts to come.

Getting to Bangkok

After my memorable flight experience to Chicago, I hopped on a long haul 15 hour flight to Hong Kong. The gate agent I had made friends with upgraded me to Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific, and due to my gold status on US Air, I received passes to the business class lounges at both the Chicago and Hong Kong airports.

The gate in Chicago, while nice, was definitely not worth writing home about. The Hong Kong business class lounge on the other hand was simply phenomenal. After nearly 24 hours of travel, the lounge felt like a gift from above. Delicious food, free wi-fi, outlets, comfy lounge, and a hot rain shower – yes, a rain shower. Asian luxury and design are simply in another league, and while I was embarking on a backpacking trip, it had me thinking I could get used to that lifestyle one day.

After a few hours of lounging around, I boarded the final leg to Bangkok, and after a delay (the tire was deflated, and then the device they used to change the tire got stuck under the airplane – not kidding) we took off to Bangkok, and after all the stress from the first flight, I was so relieved that I was on my way. The fellow from New Zealand sitting next to me was super friendly, and apparently a film producer for many National Geographic and Discovery channel documentaries. I’ll write about this at another point, but such a huge fan of making friends on flights, and I’d encourage anyone to say hello to the person next to ya – you never know where the conversation will take you.

After 30+ hours of travel, the flight touched down in Bangkok and I had finally made it! It was a long journey, but using points to get the trip for practically free was absolutely worth the extra travel time and I had a great experience on Cathay Pacific airlines. Though I was fortunate to have many miles saved up from my days in consulting, it really is not so difficult to rack up miles, and I’d strongly encourage anyone interested in traveling to look into travel hacking to save a few bills.

Briefly in Bangkok

I am traveling in Thailand with my close friend Jason, and upon arriving, he and his friend Tonggy were waiting to pick me up at the airport. It had been over a year since I’d seen him in the flesh, and the trip excitement immediately kicked in. We had talked about this trip nearly a year ago, and was stoked to have actually made it!

We were staying at Tonggy’s apartment, and naturally, the first thing I did was get basil chicken. Basil chicken has been my favorite meal for as long as I can remember, and I have always dreamt of eating it in Thailand, and it was the perfect way to start the trip.

Playing Blog Catch up

A ton has happened since we got to Thailand, and though I enjoy writing lengthier, more detailed posts, I’m going to try and break it up into quick and manageable posts as I catch up. More to come soon!

I Believe in Miracles

Apparently, miracles do happen.

Just made it to Hong Kong, and after 25 hours of travel, I’m still trying to process the utter madness of the start to my trip.

Yesterday morning I woke up, packed my bags, said goodbye to Aude, and took off to JFK airport for my 7:40pm flight to Chicago (which would then take me to Thailand via Hong Kong). The trains were off (as per usual on the weekend) and after 4 transfers and 2 hours, I had finally arrived to JFK around 6:30ish. I was a bit stressed as I was cutting it pretty close for an international flight, but I got to the kiosk to check-in and figured it would still be OK. I entered my info in the machine, and for some reason it told me that it could not process my request and to go see a gate agent.

My overly sensitive mind immediately took this as a racial profile based on my last name (Rahman is one of the more common Muslim last names in the world, and my family and I have had issues in the past), so I headed over to the desk to try and check-in once more. Irritated, I impatiently waited as the line trudged along at a snail’s pace. As I finally arrived at the desk, I explained the machine wouldn’t let me check in to my flight for some reason.

I told the agent I was headed to Chicago on the 7:40pm flight, and should looked at me with a curious expression. She then proceeded to say

 “We don’t have any flights to Chicago this evening. Do you mean the 7:40pm flight leaving from LaGuardia?”

It was at this point I realized that for the second time in my life, I had showed up for a flight at the wrong airport. Unfortunately, this time it was for a trip to Thailand instead of Texas.

The panic set in immediately. I frantically ran around the airport looking for someone to help, and after a few insufficient answers, a woman told me that I would need to head to LGA in order to find another flight to Chicago. The time was around 6:55pm, and the drive to LGA generally ranges from 25-40 minutes – the odds of making the flight were slim to none.

I ran to the cab stand, hopped in a car, and said get me to LGA as fast as possible. The cab driver, and everyone person I spoke with at the airport had told me there was no way it was going to happen, but he was a kind man and agreed to try and get me there as fast as possible.

Aside from missing my connecting flights to HK and Bangkok and the inherent hassle of re-booking a flight, the bigger issue was that I would likely not get in to Thailand until the next day, on which we had already scheduled another flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. So, in essence, by missing this one flight, I would be missing 4 flights, spending additional money, and just generally throw off the beginning of the trip.

Feeling hopeless and frustrated, I repeatedly attempted to contact US Airways to no avail on the cab ride. I had resigned to the assumed fact that I was going to miss the flight, when the driver to my surprise told me we were about 10 minutes out from the airport at 7:10pm. With this estimate, I would have roughly 20 minutes total to check-in, get through security, and board the flight by the time we got there. Despite all of this, the optimistic (see:irrational) side of me began thinking I might, just maybe, have a sliver of a shot at making this flight.

I jumped out of the cab at 7:20pm, and hustled to the American Airlines check-in computer kiosks. I tried to check-in, but seeing my obvious panic an associate came to help, and informed me that unfortunately, you can not check-in using the machine with less than 30 minutes to your flight, and I would need to go see an agent. There were two people in line in front of me at the counters, and as I waited for what felt like forever, the feeling of inevitable failure began to grow.

In reality, 5 minutes had passed, and the time was now 7:25pm. I got to the counter, shared my situation, and the agent calmly grabbed my passport, walked me over to another register, and began pushing buttons on the keyboard. Whatever she did worked, and as she handed me my boarding pass, she looked up at me and said “You’re at gate D3. Good Luck, and RUN!”

I sprinted towards the security gates and bolted past the initial guards towards the agent who scans your passport before security. That plan did not work. The flustered guards screamed at me and asked me to come back. They wanted to check the size of my backpacking bag, and said I had to take off my bag to make sure it would fit. I pleaded and told them I had mere minutes to catch my flight, but they would have none of it.

I threw off my 65L pack, and as I put it down, it would not fit in the dimensions of the stupid little bag sizing chart. It felt like a cruel ending – I  was so close to pulling this off, I could taste it, and I was about to be foiled by this stubborn lady because my bag was about 4 inches too long. She said I had to go check-in my bag, and in desperation I gave it one last ditch effort. Using all my energy, I squeezed and contorted the bag until it somehow fit the listed measurements, and after some deep contemplation, satisfied, the stringent bag lady said I could continue on.

Fortunately, there were no lines and I was able to run straight to the first security agent. As I handed him my passport, I heard them calling my name over the intercom – “Passenger Sahil Rahman, this is the last call for flight 363 to Chicago” – so close but so far.

The security line was empty, and as I got to the machine I literally threw my bags inside and jumped into the machine. Slightly amused by my manic movements, the TSA agents kindly reminded me I had to take off my shoes. It was one thing after another, I thought. I tossed my shoes off, shoved them into the machine, and headed through as the clock ticked away.

I came out on the other end, threw my bags on, and with my shoes in one hand and passport in the other, I took off sprinting full-speed barefoot through LaGuardia Airport towards D3. Bobbing and weaving through the crowds in the airport, I saw the gate, and began screaming “I’m here, I’m here!” as I ran towards the agents.

The woman scanning tickets warmly smiled and said “I’m glad you’re here, we didn’t think you were going to make it!” and the other two agents looked at me, laughed, and said “put your shoes on, you’re here!”

Against all odds, I had managed to miraculously make my flight and was in seat 16F by 7:31pm. From check-in to my seat took a total of 11 minutes. It was unbelievable, and I was filled with an remarkable sense of gratitude, elation, and joy – I was going to Thailand.

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A few quick thoughts & lessons learned from my eventful evening:

Check your itinerary.

Check it once. Check it again. And then check it one more time just to be safe.

People are friendly and helpful by nature

No shot I make the flight without the help of multiple friendly folks this evening. They had no reason to help outside of wanting to help me out of a jam.

Making the same mistake twice is really frustrating

Incredibly, this was not the first time I’ve showed up at the wrong airport for a flight. Learn from your mistakes, and adjust behavior to make sure you don’t do it again.

Stay Positive

Every single person I talked to told me I had a 0% chance of making the flight. If you think you’ve got a chance at making something happen, don’t give up when people discourage you and give it your best shot – you’ve got nothing to lose.

 The universe has my back

That was lucky as fuck. I feel like the cricket from Mulan. But more seriously, I genuinely believe the universe had my back on this one. As the wise man Paolo Coelho says, ‘And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’

Send out good vibes and watch them come back

Was in a super great mood once I finally got to Chicago, and went to check-in for my flight to Cathay Pacific. As I was checking in, I made friends with the gate agent, Keith. We hit it off, and he kindly gave me a pass to sit in the Cathay Pacific business lounges in both Chicago and Hong Kong. He was super friendly, and extremely satisfied with the excellent customer experience, I made a point to mention it to his manager. As I was sitting here writing this post in the lounge, Keith shows up out of the blue and tells me that they had decided to bump my seat on the flight by 30 rows. Turns out his manager was so grateful I mentioned something that he wanted to thank me by providing my with an upgrade on my first Cathay flight. Just got off the the 15 hr 35 minute flight, and it’s safe to say I’m pretty excited about the extra leg room.

If the start of the trip is any indication, this is going to be one hell of an adventure.

Much love,

Sah

A Year in Review

So in my last post, I talked a big game about aiming to update the blog more frequently and record memories from my move to NYC. 13 months and zero posts later, it’s safe to say that was a grand ol’ fail.

That said, I downloaded a great journaling app called DayOne a few months back and began writing again on a regular basis privately to record my thoughts, and it’s helped remind me how much I enjoy the act of writing and just how vital it is in my life. Writing provides a seemingly cathartic release, and really forces me to reflect on and grow from my experiences. And let me tell you, I’ve had a lot of experiences this year.

I just moved out of my apartment in Brooklyn, and am about to embark on another international adventure and new career journey, so figured there was no better time then now to get started sharing stories once more. A bunch happened this year, so if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, just check out the tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) summary at the bottom.

My Year in New York

Even calling it my year in New York feels odd for a couple reasons. For one, I am still coming to terms with the fact that I am leaving this incredible city. More importantly, I have bounced around so often since moving to the city last October that I have not actually been in New York for the entire year. Instead, let’s call it a year in review.

A Year in Review

So in my last post, I talked a big game about aiming to update the blog more frequently and record memories from my move to NYC. 13 months and zero posts later, it’s safe to say that was a grand ol’ fail.

That said, I downloaded a great journaling app called DayOne a few months back and began writing again on a regular basis privately to record my thoughts, and it’s helped remind me how much I enjoy the act of writing and just how vital it is in my life. Writing provides a seemingly cathartic release, and really forces me to reflect on and grow from my experiences.

I just moved out of my apartment in Brooklyn, and am about to embark on another international adventure and new career journey, so figured there was no better time then now to get started sharing stories once more. A bunch happened this year, so if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, just check out the tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) summary at the bottom.

My Year in New York

Even calling it my year in New York feels odd for a couple reasons. For one, I am still coming to terms with the fact that I am leaving this incredible city. More importantly, I have bounced around so often since moving to the city last October that I have not actually been in New York for the entire year. Instead, let’s call it a year in review.

A Year in Review

The past 12 months were a total rollercoaster, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s truly amazing how quickly things can change for better or worse, and looking back, it’s humbling to realize how much I’ve grown in such a relatively short period of time. Most everything tangible about my life today is so very different than just one short year ago.  I’ve changed careers/industries twice, lived in two major US cities, experienced new relationships (and emotions), and evolved my perception of what is possible.

This post accidentally turned into a mini novel. Sorry.

September / October

In the middle of September, I had taken a bus up to NYC to sign my lease, and look back on the ride fondly. I had decided to move to NYC on a whim, and in fact, still had a job based in Washington, DC. It was a travel job, and the company never knew until we parted ways. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but there was something about New York which had been calling my name, and I felt compelled to chase the voice. The city that made me feel so alive – the energy, the ambition, diversity, and opportunity – it all felt surreal, and I could not wait to be a part of it. We signed the lease, and at the end of September, I packed my bags and took off for Brooklyn. I took a u-haul up from Gaithersburg, and we arrived at my new home in Williamsburg – 28 Scholes – right in the heart of hipster Brooklyn.

I had big plans when I moved to the city. At the time, I had been working intensely on Globe Year (www.globeyear.com), an international education program for recent college graduates. Early on in 2013, I very quickly realized that I did not want to go to graduate school. I knew that I learned more from travel and experiential learning than anything else, and began designing my own master’s program. After sharing this idea with a few friends, I realized I was not the only one who felt this way, and I decided to begin developing a program for others like me.

I became increasingly involved in the worlds of education and social enterprise, and became enamored with the space, and it is to date a true passion of mine. Upon moving to the city, I heard that the Social Good Summit (hosted by Mashable) was coming to NYC just a few days after I arrived and I decided to pick up a ticket. It was one of the better decisions I’ve made, as I saw one of my idols, Sir Richard Branson, speak on stage along with many other inspirational folks such as Al Gore, Melinda Gates, and our most recent nobel peace prize winner, Malala Yousafzai. I left recharged and ready to take on the world.

The unfortunate side effect of this enhanced motivation towards Globe Year and the social enterprise space was that I still had a more than full-time job, which became less and less of a priority by the day. My plan had been to leave the firm upon moving to NYC, but alas, seeing as rent was roughly $1400/month, I didn’t have the balls to take the leap and decided to hang on for a bit longer. This general sentiment of ambivalence, boredom, and disdain towards the job led to interesting outcomes a few months down the road.

A long, lonely winter

October came and went, and in early November the longest, coldest, and most challenging winter of my life began. I had been dating my girlfriend at the time for roughly 10 months, and one weekend in early November, I made the decision that it would be best to go our separate ways. It was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done, but I felt it was the right thing to do – and that fateful decision sent me into a downward spiral for months to come.

I grew in more ways than I knew possible and opened up parts of myself that had been closed off for a long, long time.  She was a catch by all standards, and many a friend called me a fool for letting her go. She had been my first real girlfriend, and my best friend post-college – and then she was gone.  As it was my first real relationship, this too was my first breakup, and I really wish someone had provided me with a relationship manual when I entered to let me know just how painful it would be to exit. Breakups suck!

Professionally, my clouded mind, split between constant agony over the relationship decision and trying to figure out how to start a company had no space left for anything work related, and my performance suffered as a result. While disappointing, I wasn’t overly concerned as I had planned on leaving in the near future anyhow. Finished with my last project, I found my self in the odd limboland in between projects, kindly referred to as “The Beach” at the beginning of November.

The beach (not an actual beach) is a strange place to be, as you ‘work’ remotely, but do not have any real project work or tasks to complete. At the time, I thought this would be brilliant, as ‘working’ from home would allow me time to work on Globe Year without having the constant distraction of real work. Ideally, an employee is incentivized to be on the beach for as little time as possible, as one of the key metrics for year end performance evaluations is utilization (amount of billable client hours) so you theoretically would actively look for new projects as you would not want to be on the beach for long if you wanted to score well. As I had planned on leaving the firm in the near future (a vague and undefined term) I figured I would ‘hide’ on the beach for as long as possible, get paid while working on Globe Year, and then leave the firm before year end in March. This ambitious plan proved flawed, however, as I had not accounted for the unexpected variables of human emotion, heartache, and analytics.

Following the breakup, remote work was one of the worst things that could have happened to me.  I became a hermit, staying inside, rarely leaving the house due to the frigid weather, and worst of all had minimal human interaction and structure at a time when I needed it the most. Lost in my mind, I passed the months of November and December staring at the ceiling, unable to accomplish anything productive or noteworthy.

Peru

As my 23rd birthday approached on the 24th of December, I knew I needed to do something to shake things up and try to get myself back on track. Travel had always been an escape, and I thought getting a bit lost abroad might help me find whatever it was I was looking for. On Christmas day, my little sister and I took off on a trip to Peru to visit our close childhood friend, Naomi, along with two other friends, Vikram and Leo.

It was my first time traveling with my little sister, and I was to have some much needed fun again. We were set to have a 17-day excursion, and the trip was off to a great start as we went to visit Machu Picchu and climbed Machu Picchu mountain a few days after landing. Unfortunately, we received some unexpected news that resulted in a rather drastic change of plans.

On New Years Eve, as we were preparing to go out and celebrate the start of 2014, I received a phone call from Naomi. My parents had been trying to get in touch, and she passed along the news that my nanu (grandfather), at the wise age of 94, had passed away. We had never been extremely close, but had lived in the same house together for many years, and he was an incredibly kind and intelligent man who meant a great deal to me. Despite his age, the news was unexpected, and resulted in a mad scramble to adjust flights on NYE to find a way back home in time for his services. Thank goodness for Allianz travel insurance – seriously, always buy it if you are traveling abroad, you never know when it will come in handy.

After celebrating his life that night, Saba and I showed up ticketless and flustered to the airport on the 1st morning, and miraculously managed to secure the last couple seats on the flight back, landing in the states just hours before the procession. Talk about a strange start to the year.

It was a tough couple weeks back at home, and it was about to get tougher. Mid-January, I received a message from Deloitte, asking me to come into the office. I had never received a message like this in the past, and immediately did not have a good feeling about it. I figured it would be related to the fact that I was on the beach for so long. I was correct.

Letting Go

I was up for promotion that year, and to be promoted one needed around 90% utilization. My utilization was significantly lower than this number, and I was indifferent about this fact as I figured I would be gone before the year end evaluations in March. About this much I was correct, but I had not anticipated just how rapidly my exit from the firm would be approaching.

I entered the room, and sat across from the partner who had actually interviewed me before I joined the firm. He very matter of factly stated that the firm was overstaffed at the time, and looking at my low utilization, they realized that even if I joined a billable project from that date until year-end, I would still not be close to the required 90% for promotion. It is an up or out system, and as I would not be able to go up because of my low utilization, it was time for me to make my exit. The conversation lasted all of 3 minutes until he handed me off to the HR woman on the phone who would provide me with next steps. The partner said “just remember to hand in your laptop and computer by 5pm,” and that was that.

I knew that this was inevitable, and my actions had clearly set this scenario in motion, but it still felt like a punch in the gut. Financially, it actually turned out rather well for me as I did not have to pay back my signing bonus and Deloitte was kind enough to offer me a generous severance package, however that did not remove the sting of being let go. More than anything, I felt a great deal of shame and struggled to understand how to explain the situation to family, friends, and anyone who asked about my work situation.

My relationship with Deloitte was rocky from the start, and I was never a good fit. Ironically, the partner mentioned previously had asked me an interesting question during my initial interview with Deloitte. He said “You clearly have lots of exciting entrepreneurial and creative experience in the past. Do you think you can function in a corporate environment?” Taken aback by the question, I confidently came up with a response that seemed to satisfy him, but the truth was I had no idea. A year and a half later, I knew the answer to that question.

Since a young age, I never wanted to work in a desk job or a large corporation,  but convinced by the support and celebrations of friends and family after receiving the offer, I was unsure how I could turn down the opportunity and salary with nothing else in sight, and I reluctantly accepted the job and decided to give it a shot. As I imagined, to me, much of the work felt like pulling teeth, and brought back memories of boring homework assignments I often struggled to complete. Now, don’t get me wrong – much of it was valuable learning, but given my curious nature, it was extremely difficult for me to sit down and focus on menial analyst tasks as they did not stimulate my mind or require any real thinking or problem solving.

I learned a million and one lessons from my time at the firm, but the main one was to never do anything unless you are excited about it.

Human relationships and dating are very similar to work relationships with companies, and I had experienced my second break-up in a 3 month span. In hindsight, I’m grateful Deloitte took steps to end an unhealthy relationship for both sides.  At the time however, the short-term ramifications were more mindless meandering for me during January and February.

I had uprooted three core pillars of my life since September (Relationship, Career, and Location), and I quickly became a ship without an anchor, floating whichever direction the wind blew.

I had been continuing to work on Globe Year, and had pulled my friend Anna from HS onto the team to help out with the project. While we were making solid progress, my confidence had taken quite a hit post-Deloitte and still recovering from the break-up, I was still not entirely certain what in the world I was doing with my life, and I realized that this lack of conviction would not get me anywhere fast.

As the snow begins to melt, the sun starts to peek through the clouds (March)

I had enough finances to last me a few more months, and resolved that over the next couple months, whatever it took I was going to invest in myself good again and figure out what I wanted to do next, Globe Year or otherwise. It was the beginning of March, and the first stop on my journey was to Austin, Tx. Multiple friends had recommended I attend a conference called Starting Bloc for social leaders and entrepreneurs out in Los Angeles, with many calling it a life changing experience. After enough people I respected mentioned it, I figured it was worth a shot, so I booked my tickets for the LA convention from March 6th – 10th. As I looked at the calendar, I realized that SXSW EDU, an event I’ve been hoping to attend was taking place in the days leading up to Starting Bloc. Tickets were expensive to enter, so I found a way to volunteer, and my Globe Year partner Anna and I headed to Austin!

While I only caught a couple days of the conference, I was in Austin for nearly 6 days, and had an absolute blast. Super cool city, and the people I met at the conference were incredibly inspiring, and opened many new possibilities with Globe Year. We stayed with my good friends from HS, Devon and Steph and they were wonderful hosts. On the 5th evening, I said adios to many new friends from the conference and boarded a flight to Los Angeles for Starting Bloc.

Entering the event, I had no idea what to expect or what I had signed up for. It was a fascinating few days that focused heavily on introspection, understanding your why, and empathizing with those around you. I found a remarkable tribe of people who wanted to make an impact in their little corners of the world, pushed one another to be better, and held each other accountable. Though the experience was only 5 days, it almost felt as though we had studied abroad together.

Looking back, I realize that Starting Bloc served as a pivotal turning point for me in the year, and I’m very grateful to those kind folks who introduced me to the community. I returned to New York rejuvenated, and while I still had a long way to go – for the first time in a while, I was beginning to feel good again.

April Adventures

The trip had been amazing and I had thought long and hard, but I still hadn’t quite sorted out what I was doing professionally, and as my pool of money turned into a puddle, I turned my attention that direction. While researching the education space, I had discovered a company called Experience Institute that was doing very similar work in the field of experiential education. I had spoken with the founder, and was very impressed by his story and his mission, but hadn’t reached out in quite some time. As I thought more and more about it, I realized that our visions were extremely aligned, and I saw potential partnership opportunities. They were already up and running with their first class of students in town, and instead of re-creating the wheel, I thought it would make sense to join forces with them.

I got on the phone with VIctor (founder), and pitched the idea of creating a role for me. I piqued his interest, created a potential role/job description and sent it on over. As these conversations were happening in April, I received an e-mail from a good friend I met at Starting Bloc, Alex Haas. She and another friend, Sam, had started an adventure travel company called MBAdventures, that focused on allowing individuals to recharge and refresh in nature while being surrounded by a supportive, spiritual, and inspirational community. They were running a pilot program to Moab in Utah, and they were hand picking friends to be a part of the first group. It sounded badass, so I said why not and signed on board for the experience in the middle of April.

Also, April was awesome because my cousin Wasim crashed on our couch for over a month, and he and I would just hang out and kick it during the days and check out different restaurants with lunch specials. We even started a thriving lunch special blog!

In the days after deciding to go on the trip, I attended an event hosted by the HIgher Purpose Project, and met an awesome dude named Mike Hrostoski. I told him I was in a place of transition, and he mentioned that he was hosting an event out in San Diego called the Conference for Men that I might be interested in. Despite the somewhat cheesy title, it seemed like it would be a unique experience, and looking up the dates realized that I would be able to tack it on at the end of my trip to Boulder for the Moab adventure. It was the first year they were running the event, so I figured it was going to be super lame or really freakin’ awesome, so I decided to roll the dice. I convinced my friend Rahul to come with, and we bought tickets to the conference and San Diego.

Before taking off on the trip, we had planned a party in the backyard in the middle of April. Our good friends from college, Sean and Tim, started a band called Sunbathers (They kick ass, check em’ out), so we decided it would be sweet to make the party a show and have them play in the backyard. It turned out to be one of the best weekends of the year. Twenty-five, yes, twenty-five friends from out of town came and crashed at our 3BR apartment, and the party was epic. The band absolutely killed it, we somehow managed to fit 100+ people in between our backyard and the apartment. It may well have been the best party I’ve ever been a part of.

West Coast Wanderlust

Following the party, I took off for my 15+ day trip out west. I landed in Boulder, and after a night staying in a beautiful house overlooking the mountains, met up with the MBAdventures crew and took off for Moab. The desert was beyond beautiful, and the stars at night were simply breathtaking. There was a chef cooking us healthy meals, inspirational speakers, sunrise yoga and sunset meditation, and most importantly the people were just super awesome. It was perfect.

Upon returning to Boulder, I heard back from the Experience Institute team, and they agreed that it was a good idea for me to come on board for a 4-month contract, and I was to start as soon as I returned from my travels! It was exactly what I had hoped for, and I was ecstatic to learn with Victor and the team.

After a night in Denver, I took off for San Diego where I met up with Rahul for the Conference for Men. Entirely unsure what to expect from yet another conference, we both left pleasantly surprised. The conference was phenomenal, and pushed the men there to be more holistic individuals by attacking many of our limiting beliefs and deep rooted insecurities. It was the first time I’ve seen such a safe space created for males, and allowed many people, myself included, to be truly vulnerable and open for the first time.

May

I got back to NYC, and for the first time in far too long, it felt like things were starting to fall into place. I had started working, the weather was warm, and I was having fun again.

I decided to go back down to DC to visit my mom on Mother’s day, and little did I know what I was getting myself into that weekend. I hadn’t seen my ex in 4 months at that point, and seeing her again finally provided me with a sense of closure on the relationship. Generally speaking, that would have been more than enough for one weekend, but I was to receive some tragic news the very next day. Our family dog, and my best friend, Romeo, had been acting funny so my dad took him to doctor to make sure everything was ok. Unfortunately, it was not – he apparently had a cancerous tumor and the vet recommended putting him down that day. I was at our restaurant, Bombay Bistro, when I heard the news and for the first time in my life, I broke down in the bathroom and began uncontrollably crying. It was really rough. We literally grew up together, and saying goodbye to him was the hardest pill I’ve ever had to swallow.

Fortunately, we got a second opinion and had a few more days with our boy Romes, but his diagnosis sparked a rather fundamental change in me. I had taken Romeo for a walk that morning, and he seemed totally fine. It made me think that something like his situation could happen to any of us, and had me questioning what if it had been me. I had spent the last 6 months moping around trying to ‘find myself’ and life had been passing me by. I decided it was time to become more present, fully experience life, and enjoy the fleeting moments I have left on this planet.

(Enter Romeo Picture)

I came back from the emotionally charged weekend happier than ever before, and excited to embrace all of the wonderful things in my life.  Coincidentally (or not), I met my current girlfriend a few days later.

Aude

A friend from college put me in touch with a girl who was interested in the education and social enterprise world, and a few days after getting back from DC we met up. What I thought was going to be a simple coffee meeting ended up changing everything. Her name was Aude, and the first night we met, we ended up talking for over 6 hours.

We started hanging out a bunch, time was flying by, and the month was easily one of the most fun I can remember. Highlights included a trip to Fire Island with her friends, Gov Ball Music Festival, countless concerts, and lots of late night pizza runs. We’ve been dating ever since, and there are still many late night pizza runs.

As this was happening, I had spoken with the folks at Experience Institute, and a business development opportunity arose in Chicago, and they wanted me to come work there for the summertime. It was totally unexpected, but it was a neat opportunity to work under the Chief Talent Officer at a large advertising agency called Leo Burnett, so on June 15th, I packed my bags and took off for Chicago.

Chicago Summer

Summer in Chicago was an awesome experience. Beautiful city, fascinating architecture, friendly people, and great weather in the summer. It was really interesting to simply up and relocate on a moments notice. I found a random roommate on craigslist, and lived with a 30-something gay brazilian man and his dog, Bebel. I hadn’t seen the place in person before agreeing to move in, and we were in the ‘garden’ unit, which I learned is actually a euphemism for basement unit, but it was cool because I felt like I was living in a hobbit hole.

Work at Leo Burnett was great, and I was focused on designing new experiential learning programs for Leo Burnett employees. I dove headfirst into the worlds of experiential education and advertising, and interviewed people up, down, and across the organization. I was also working on the HR floor, which was a trip as there were 23 women and 3 men, so it kind of felt like I was working at a sorority house.

I had an awesome base of friends in Chicago, and it was really cool building and having that community upon getting to the city. It really allowed me to focus on myself and building healthy habits, and was a great experience.

Rasa Rising

Before I had left for Chicago, my close friend Rahul and I began talking about starting an Indian fast casual restaurant. It’s an idea I’ve been kicking around for years now, and after seeing a couple in NYC, I realized that if we were ever going to do this project, the time is now. 23 years previously, our dads had started a restaurant together, and so out entire lives people have asked us about it, but we had never seriously put thought towards making it happen until that initial conversation.

We stayed in touch over the summer, and in July, decided we wanted to make it happen. After a great 8 years, we decided to close down one of our family restaurants, Indique Heights, so Rahul and I both headed back home to help out that weekend. While sitting down with our families, we told them what we wanted to do, and were extremely grateful to receive the support and blessing of our parents.

My contract with Experience Institute ended in September, and so I said goodbye to the team and the city and headed back to NYC in early September.

A fast and casual September

I had planned my trip to Thailand and India from Mid-October to early December, meaning that I had slightly over a month in NYC before taking off. To make the most of my time in the city, I decided to get a job at a local fast casual restaurant to learn from them. I ended up with two. One at an established company called Roti, and another with a start-up restaurant called Fields Good Chicken.

It was a humbling, exciting, and memorable learning opportunity, and I believe the learnings from this month will prove to be invaluable as we work on launching our own concept. All in all, it was an wonderful month, and allowed me to reach closure on leaving the city I love so much.

Travels

As I write this, I’m on a ridiculously long, but comfortable, flight to Hong Kong and my adventure to Thailand and India has begun! I’ll be traveling around Thailand for 3 weeks with my good buddy Jason from HS, and then will head off to India to meet up with Aude, and we will travel around the country together for roughly a month. It’s been a while since I’ve traveled internationally like this, and could not be more excited for the next few months.

The Future

I’ll be gone until early December, and when I get back I’ll move back to good ol’ Gaithersburg and dive fully into the restaurant concept. It’s going to be a hell of an adventure, and I’m really excited to get started.

In Summary

Damnnn that was a long post. I would be shocked if anyone made it this far down, but if you did, I appreciate you reading along! As you can tell, it’s been a pretty wild ride this year, with many ups and downs along the way. As I write this, I’m feeling an immense sense of gratitude towards all of the wonderful people in my life and could not be more grateful for all of the experiences that have pushed me to grow and led to this moment.

Excited to see what the next year has in store – and I’ll aim to update the blog a bit more frequently so the next blog post doesn’t read like a novel.

Until next time, friends. Over and out!

-Sah

PS. I’m in the Hong Kong airport and I don’t have great internet right now, so I’ll add some photos to this later on.

Life Update

Hola Amigos,

I’ll be the first to acknowledge, I’ve been a total bum in terms of updating the blog over the past year (or more..), but have decided that I’m going to start doing my best to continue updating the site as I attempt to chronicle my life and travels.

Since I returned from SE Asia way back in August of 2011, life has been flying by with all sorts of new adventures along the way. I’ll go into more details as I go back and fill in the gaps, but here’s a very high-level summary/timeline:

  •  I moved into an unforgettable house with some of my best friends during my senior of college. We built a beach

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  • I graduated from the University of Maryland!

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  • After graduation, I went on a voluntourism trip to Kenya, where I attempted to teach children how to play Ultimate Frisbee. Got in a jump off with Masai warriors, taught classes, went on my first Safari in Masai Mara and had an amazing experience. Also, swung by Istanbul on the way there!

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  • Started working with Deloitte Consulting in July of 2012 and became a management consultant. It’s a pretty cool, unconventional job where you actually fly to a client site and work in a different city Mon-Thursday. Aside from the travel, one of the most interesting aspects of the job is that you move from project to project. I’m in a rotational program, and as a result they try to ensure we work not only on different projects but in different industries with different clients. As a result, I’ve worked on projects with a major bank for a couple weeks, a major federal health organization for about 4 months, and just finished my last project at a large hospital system that lasted about 7 months.
  • Moved to DC in September of 2012
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  • In December 2012, took an awesome trip to NYC for Nick’s bday and went to an Andrew Bird concert, then flew out west to go explore San Francisco
  • Spent NYE in New York City, and had an amazing time with a lovely lady. Somehow convinced said lady to fall for me, and shortly thereafter we began dating. First girlfriend! Image
  • Went to a startup weekend for education in NYC in March (Amazing as always) and came up with a pretty neat concept for an international experiential learning program. If you’d like to take a look, you can learn more at www.globeyear.com
  • Took an amazing family vacation to South Africa in March (I’ll put up the pics soon, I promise!) and went on my second safari in <12 months

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  • Moved out of my place in DC at the end of June 2013. Realized that with travelling 4 days a week, I was paying a lot for rent, and was never in town. Figured I’d save some money, and decided to move out of my place in the city.
  • Adopted a full-time travel lifestyle (See: Nomad). When I moved out of DC, I dropped off my stuff at the padres place, and began travelling around the US nearly every weekend. this was made possible by the travel work lifestyle, and a wonderful thing known as alternative travel. My summer travels visiting friends has taken me to NYC, Chicago, the Smokey Mountains, New Orleans, Both Portland’s (Oregon and Maine), Boston, the Solomon Islands, DC, Baltimore, Seattle, and Olympic National Park. It’s been a wild ride so far, filled with lots of couches (Some comfier than others), old friends, and great memories. I’ll try and put together posts of each place so I don’t forget them due to the transient nature of the past few months.
  • Went to Aruba last week for Sahir’s Wedding!

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  • Moving to NYC! As I write this, I’m on a bus to Manhattan to embark on life’s next chapter. I’m planning on signing my lease today, and will be moving in with one of my best friends, Nick, and his good buddy, Johnny. We’ll be moving into Williamsburg, Brooklyn – the hipster capital of the world – so I am actively anticipating the jokes to come as I become hip and trendy as part of the cultural osmosis to take place over the coming months. Moving to New York City is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I am excited to say that I am following through with one of my lifelong dreams by making this move.

As you can see, the past year has been a strange one filled with travels, transitions, and life lessons as I’ve continued my journey towards becoming a functioning adult and positive member of society. There are some holes in the timeline that I’ll fill up, but I think it provides a good, quick summary of the past couple years, and I’ll do my best to fill in the gaps in the near future.

I have a bunch of travel stories/adventures to share, and I’ll do my best to update the blog in the coming weeks as I continue to chronicle my wonderful, wacky life. I know this was a long post, but to be fair two years is quite a long time. If you’ve made it all the way to the bottom, I appreciate you and look forward to hearing how things are going in your worlds.

Thanks again for reading my friends!

Stay Smiling 🙂

Sahil

Beautiful Bali!

While I was in Indonesia, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a weekend trip to the beautiful island of Bali! I had just gotten approval for the trip the day before the weekend I was planning on going, so literally booked my trip at night, and then hopped on the plane the very next day with no plans at all.
I could talk about my trip there forever, so to keep this relatively brief, I’m just going to include a bunch of pictures which I feel do a good job summarizing my trip.

At the Air Asia counter in Jakarta

Delicious basil chicken in the airport!

Landing right over the water in Bali!

I got off the plane, literally with no clue as to what I was going to do. I hadn’t booked a hostel, so was really 100% open to anything. While waiting for luggage, I met a couple cute girls from Jersey, but not the Jersey you’re thinking of. They were from Old Jersey, which is a small island near England. The girls and I split a cab to Kuta, which is the main touristy strip, and they told me they were going to a great hostel they had stayed at before, so decided to grab a room at the place.

It turned out to be awesome!

Believe it or not, I got this room with my own bathroom for $10 a night!

After I dropped my stuff in the room, went to see the beach….someone take me back right now pleasee

That night, met a cool dude from Florida named Ryan, and another guy from Switzerland I believe and the three of us decided to head out for dinner that night. A couple of the swiss guys friends came along, and we went and grabbed a delicious $1 meal…Yep. $1

Afterwards, Ryan and I decided to go check out some of the popular clubs in the area. Everyone told us to go to check out this place called SkyGarden, and I am so glad we did. Turned out to be one of the coolest clubs i’ve ever been to, and had 5 stories including a rooftop lounge. They also had free drinks at night between 10 and 11pm. Place was packed with Australians, English, and people from all over the world so had a blast meeting new friends from across the globe.

Free drinks at SkyGarden!

They also had delicious free food..

Top floor

Day 2

The next day was a wild one, and easily one of the most interesting ones of my life. The friend Ryan I made at our hotel was a great surfer, and had lived in Hawaii for a year just to surf so he was in Bali to test the waters. I told him that I had no clue how to surf, and he told me that he would be happy to teach me so we headed to the ocean. Rented a board for $5 ( So Cheap!) and went out into the water. At first, I couldn’t get up at all, but after a few failed attempts I finally was successful and riding a wave! After that, it was smooth sailing, and I picked it up pretty quickly. Can’t wait for my next opportunity to go.

Surfboard Rental shop

After surfing, we grabbed some lunch and then had heard about the famous Balinese dancing at Oluwatu during sunset, which is on another part of the island. We stopped a cab to see how much it was to get there, and it was way too much so we decided against it. Then, right after we said no to the cab we saw a bike rental, where they would give you a moped for a few hours and it was dirt cheap, so reluctantly I hopped on Ryan to navigate the not quite safe roads of Bali.

Ryan had told me that he had driven the bikes before in Guatemala, so he drove first. Within our first 3 minutes, we managed to go into oncoming traffic, and then hit a car at low speeds and at this point was pretty sure there was no way I was going to make it through the trip alive..

We had to stop to fill up the bike with gas after a couple miles, but couldn’t find a gas station. Then we realized that there weren’t any gas stations, they were dudes on the side of the road with bottles of gasoline that they would pour with a funnel into the bike

The funniest part about it was the bottles were all Absolut Vodka bottles haha

On the journey to Oluwatu

Stopped at this little place to get directions, and walked inside and this was taking place.

We finally made it to Oluwatu!

Oluwatu is renowned as one of the world’s best surfing beaches, and as you can see I clearly killed it hah

Ryan and I took these crazy steep steps down to the beach, where you had to walk through what felt like a cave to actually get to the ocean. Once we got there, it was one of the prettiest things i’ve ever seen. It was getting dark, so unfortunately was unable to get any good pictures but one of the prettiest sights i’ve ever seen.

We went and grabbed beers at this sweet restaurant that was overlooking the ocean, and met some interesting people from Cali who were there surfing, and heard some wild stories.

The bathroom was upstairs, and when I went to go find it I happened to stumble upon the most breathtaking thing i’ve ever seen. There was a beautiful hotel, with an infiniti pool overlooking the ocean. Was absolutely gorgeous, and believe it or not only cost $100 a night. If i were there again, I will absolutely make a trip to stay here as it was incredible.

It was crazy seeing the difference between Kuta and Oluwatu, because Kuta was this super touristy area with thousands of people, and crazy nightlife, bars, and restaurants. Oluwatu on the other hand was just the opposite, and one of the most tranquil and serene places i’ve ever been to and most likely in the world. Can’t wait to make it back there!

After finishing up our beers, Ryan and I hopped back on the bike in preparation for round 2 of the intense motor bike ride back. On the way there, we had switched halfway and although slightly terrified while riding the bike as there were trucks driving in oncoming traffic coming towards you and no real lanes, once I got the hang of it was actually a good bit of fun. With that said, think it’s safe to say that my bike days are most likely behind me.

We stopped at a random place to grab some dinner, and the dish i got was fantastic. I believe it was called Nasi Goreng or something along those lines, and I ended up getting 2 because it was so good haha

Afterwards, we hit up skygarden again and there were these awesome dudes playing with flames!

Day 3

The next day was another adventure filled one, as I had signed up for scuba diving classes! I had managed to negotiate the tour agent down from 95 to 55 bucks, and hopped on a 3 hour bus ride to the northeastern side of the island to a town called Tulamben.

I grabbed a delicious fish and rice meal from this guy riding around on his bicycle, and it was one of the tastiest breakfasts i’ve ever had.

There were about 12 of us in the van, and I was with another american, a few spaniards, and a couple of british brothers.

Was the prettiest car ride i’ve ever had the pleasure of being on

Rice Paddies!

We drove past this volcano that was active just 40 years ago.

We finally arrived to the dive site, and was super excited to go on the wreck dive! There was an old US boat which had sunk, and we were going to go diving through the old ship and explore.

We got all suited up, and met our cool dive master who was going to lead us on our dive. The dive master then proceeded to ask how many dives everyone had been on before. One guy said nearly 100, others said 30 or so, and one group said they had done all the required training. It was at this point that I realized there was required training for Scuba diving..

To the shock of everyone there, I told them that I had never gone on a dive before, nor had I ever even received basic training. The organizers chatted amongst themselves, before telling me that I would most likely have to wait for everyone to go, and then go on a separate shorter dive.

I proceeded to argue with them, and say that I paid for the dive and that I was going and managed to convince them to let me go on the dive with the less experienced of the two groups. Probably not the safest thing to do, especially after signing a rather sketch liability waiver, but I’m so glad that I ended up going!

With my Spanish friends and diving partners! The guy in the middle was our awesome dive master!

After some initial difficulties, I picked it up really quickly and was having a blast. While we were down on the first dive, I couldn’t believe all that was happening around me, as schools of fish would swim through and all around us. I would turn around, and there would be a ridiculously colorful fish staring at me like “What you lookin at?” and then i’d look down and there was a giant turtle just feet from me. Felt like I was in Finding Nemo haha, honestly never seen prettier fish in my life, and gave me a greater appreciation for the world underneath the water.

This is not a real place

After our second dive!

Blowdart guns are always fun

Drive back

Went out for dinner and drinks with the girls from Old Jersey and had a great time.

Last Day

On my last day in Bali, I had a flight I needed to catch in the afternoon but there was one thing I needed to do before I left. I had been hearing all week about how incredible balinese massages are, and I wasn’t leaving without one.

Paid $5 for an hour massage that was easily the best one i’ve ever had. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could walk down the street and get one of those in College Park.

I hopped on the plane headed back towards Jakarta, and said bye to one of the most majestic and surreal places i’ve ever been to.

I had been reading a book on the plane, and as soon as I had walked back into the airport, realized that I had completely forgotten it on the plane itself. It was a book called growing social business that i was fascinated by at the time, and ran back towards the plane to get it. I somehow managed to talk my way back through security despite the language barrier, and ended up back on the plane and luckily the air hostess had my book! Would never have happened in America haha

With the air hostess!

If you’re looking for a perfect place for your next vacation, look no further. Bali, Indonesia is amazing and I can’t wait to make a trip back sometime in the future.

Cheers,

Sahil Rahman

The re-birth of the the blog: Last night in Indonesia

Hello world,

It’s been about 8 months since my last post, and pretty much every day since i’ve gotten back to the US i’ve woken up thinking today is the day I will catch up on my final blog posts from Southeast Asia. Figured it was about time to get started on that task before I forget forever.

I logged on to the blog for the first time in forever this evening, and was shocked to see that over 2,700 people have actually read my blog! Was exciting to see that people actually read about my travels..and a bit disconcerting based on some of the things i’ve written in past posts haha

In the next few posts i’m going to wrap up the details from my trips to Singapore and Tokyo to provide me with some closure on my travels, and then attempt to record the events from the last 8 months in the US in an attempt to keep the online journal of my life alive. I’m hoping that one day i’ll be able to look back on all these experiences and smile

This post is a short one with some photos from my last night in Indonesia with some fantastic people!

Saying goodbye to my homies at the Ratu Plaza Outback Steakhouse! Interestingly enough, I was at a college park bar the other night and met this white girl in my friends sorority who said she had lived in Indonesia for 3 years. We started talking, and turns out that her dad is a builder, and actually built the Ratu Plaza mall where i was working for a week! Such a small world.

A few of us went for a farewell dinner at a delicious restaurant called Senayan!

Had this amazing tea with Rock Sugar!

Pa Budhy with this crazy looking fish dish

The gang with our feast!

All in all, my experience in Indonesia was an unforgettable one with all sorts of wild twists and turns. I met some wonderful people, and learned so much about the developing world and gained such a greater appreciation for all that I have been blessed with in my life. Despite the conditions the people deal with, they are incredibly friendly and it is very humbling.The trip really taught me how to adapt to any environment, and provided a welcome reminder that my true passion lies in promoting upward mobility and encouraging educational opportunities for everyone.

It was very interesting being in the worlds largest muslim country during ramadan. Speaking of the size of Indonesia, genuinely believe that the country is on the verge of exploding in terms of economic growth in the next few years if they are able to get their government in order a bit, so very much looking forward to seeing the country rise. Apparently the language, Bahasa, is one of the easiest in the world to learn, so may attempt to pick that up sometime in the near future.

Terima Kasih! (Thank you in Bahasa)

-Sahil

Internship done, and Tokyo tomorrow!

Hola Amigos,

Been slacking on keeping this thing up to date, and since so much has been happening figured i would provide a quick update before i just get wayyy too far behind.

The last few days have been awesome. I presented for the SE Asia marketing manager in Indonesia, and had an awesome goodbye dinner with the managers in Jakarta. After that, i headed off to Singapore.

Singapore has been sweet. I gave my final presentation to the company CEO on saturday and it went extremely well. Since my only task over here was the final presentation, i had the opportunity to check out some of the amazing city. Spent my time walking around exploring things, eating delicious food, and even managed to meet up with my aunt who happened to be over here for business.

I have to wake up at 4am for my flight (4 hours…blown) so will write more later. Actually, since i’m gonna be in Tokyo i’ll probably just update this once and for all once i’m back home in 4 short days.

See ya soon, Cheers!

Sahil Rahman