It was rather by surprise that I saw a message in my Facebook Inbox of all places, telling me that he would be in town for about a week, and that he hoped to catch up with me and a couple of other people if possible. Last I'd heard, he was on his bike traveling through Africa, and this was after he had completed his exploration of South America, no small feat, of course, and certainly way more exciting than the state of things in my life, no complaints though. Surprising, like I said, but it promised to be an interesting meeting up, especially considering the fact that I hadn't seen him since 1998 when I graduated high school! Now, almost 15 years later, after innumerable and multi-various experiences had shaped us into our present-day selves, “interesting” was pretty much a given. So, I gave him my number, and took his down, and waited to see what all this time had done to the both of us.
I first met Jay Kannaiyan when he joined the boarding school that I was in, Kodaikanal International School in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu. I was in the 4th Grade and starting my second year there, and he joined in the 3rd, much like I first did. As we got older and essentially, grew up in school, our interactions changed, ebbing and flowing with such changes as going from Elementary School to Middle School, and then High School, but we always knew about each other. I guess in some sense, that sort of thing tends to happen in a boarding school where students spend most of their childhoods, but there were things that I remembered that came flooding back to memory, like his fascination with electrical circuits and gadgetry. I wondered if he was still into any of this, or if this too was relegated to something of a “once upon a time” in his life.
At first glance, he seemed to be exactly the same in his demeanor, warm and friendly, and the fact that he now kept his head shaved did not startle me because in the last couple of years, I did kind of follow a couple of his posts and a segment or two of his journey, so I knew what he looked like. But then, as we sat down and talked about stuff, it was more than palpable that irrespective of the place, the distance, no, even the years themselves, as differently as we had evolved individually, there was still a lot that we retained at the center of who we were as people. It was easy to connect, as easy as picking up where we left off, no matter how long ago. But more fascinating for me was the fact that we also seemed to have come upon some of the same lessons in life, albeit through wholly different means. It was fascinating to catch up, and to be able to share about the things that had changed us, not only since we were back in school, but more in terms of the people we had become today. In fact, I was pleased to find out that his fascination for things electrical and electronic had led to, as he put it, "I channeled that tinkering into learning how to maintain my bike and my equipment on this trip."
It was amazing to see what Jay Kannaiyan has done with his life. For me, he is a very tangible example of living your dreams to the fullest. His idea of a journey that took him from the city of Chicago, where he lived and worked at the time, to his parents' home in Chennai where he's currently awaiting shipment of his vehicle, seems to come from an undying willingness to truly work towards a “greater good”. Not only is it a sign of something far more noble than most of us will ever be up to in our lives, it is also evidence of the power of purpose that we each bring to the table, where some of us are clearly outclassed by our ability to be focused only on petty human-ness, instead of the plight of humanity. That is essentially what he is trying to change, or as the tagline on his website reads, “Spreading Eudaimonia Thru Curry Diplomacy,” is his ultimate purpose, and in this regard, one can do nothing less than cheer him on, for all our sakes!
Our meeting took place a week ago, but while I seem to be approaching the end of a story of things changing yet unchanged, Jay continues on to his next destination in preparation of his journey across India this time. His website JamminGlobal has all the details and more about his journey thus far, and the rest of his voyage as he attempts to unravel the wonders of our Motherland, the great nation of India. What's more, I'm hoping to be able to get him to interview for my blog, right here, so watch out for more on Jay and his intrepid journeys across distant lands, and really, into the hearts of one great big thing called “humanity”.
All the best Jay!