Officially, my name is Philen; it is the name my mother gave me. It means ‘Brave Wolf.’ Thanks Mum. But I have been called by many different names during my life. And my own mother doesn’t even call me by the name she christened me with. So I cannot be confined to, or defined by, a single name.
The same Philen has also created so many friendships around the world, that if you were to ask each of his friends or family to describe him, you would get radically different stories, experiences, and descriptions from each. So I cannot be confined to a single person either.
The body I wear has changed so drastically since birth, it is absurd to identify with this.
And the same can be said about thoughts, ideas, opinions, beliefs, and emotions; they are all as transient and impermanent as a puff of smoke from an old woman’s pipe.
In truth, by the time you are reading this, ‘I’ is already a new creation, with this piece of writing as only a distorted memory.
But in terms of this Human Story , which needs stage characters, and continuation; I shall adopt here, for the sake of convenience on behalf of my dear Reader, the pen name of ‘Philen Naidu.’ Which is also the name on government records. And here is a summarized account of this interesting life:
THE EARLY YEARS
I entered this present birth-death cycle in 1976. By the age of sixteen, (thanks to outstanding parents and family holidays) these feet had walked in more than thirty countries (including states), on four continents. At the age of seventeen, I traveled as a solo backpacker for the first time. I lived and worked three months on a kibbutz in Israel, passed through the Sinai Peninsula; then lived and worked another seven months in London, before ticking off a quick seven-city European backpacker tour.
In 1999, having obtained a full bursary to study electro-mechanical engineering at the University of Cape Town, I dropped out.
At age twenty two, the life being presented to me appeared mostly superficial and meaningless. And I just could not make sense of the idea to trade away the daylight hours of the best years of my life, in exchange for abstract concepts, and the accumulation of ‘stuff’.
So I quit. Without knowing where I belong, I knew where I did not. And so I began walking away from the Mainstream Life in 1999, with childlike belief that I would find what I was looking for.
A VAGABOND LIFE
Between ages Seventeen and Forty Four, I have lived in and traveled over twenty countries, on three different continents. I have worked part-time, freelance, and in exchange for a bed and food; my only formal employment lasting eight months. So my mind has been entirely free and unconstrained in its exploration, and pursuit of Truth and Right Knowledge. [Side Note: There is no inheritance, and neither material nor financial assets that I rest on.]
CALAMITY AND PLOT CHANGE
A car accident in 2006, in Zimbabwe, sent me into a 36-hour (or 3-day? … I don’t remember) coma. When I awoke, I was a changed man, with severe head and brain trauma.
My slow comeback included working a few family businesses, starting up a nonprofit organization to serve a group of disadvantaged kids and youth, and turning my focus towards the religious life of a missionary; a servant to the downtrodden.
Along the way I was diagnosed with a ‘rare and incurable’ stress-related auto immune disease known as Addison’s Disease. I got married, and also got my first official ‘job’, managing operations for an overland safari company.
In 2013, at age Thirty Seven, I broke. I quit the job after eight months. The nonprofit organization imploded with rebellion and theft. The auto immune malfunction was running rampant. And the longsuffering marriage broke. In a desperate attempt to salvage some dignity and self-esteem, I prematurely published my debut book, and then slipped into the Depression that would forever alter both my life, and the world I live in. At the end of 2013, I (again) reduced my life into what I could fit into a backpack, and set off this time to India.
A NEW LIFE
This part of the story is massive, and forms the core of my second book – Love and a Kitchen – which is currently in progress. A radically abbreviated version however, goes like this:
During the course of three years, I bounced back and forth between India and Nepal; with a one-month foray into Sri Lanka. My original plans to launch a travel cooking show were hijacked by an Indian woman affectionately known as Amma, the Hugging Saint. My three month trip extended to a trip with no return ticket. And then one day, quite unexpectedly in Nepal, I met my Lighthouse, Partner, Lover and Soulmate. I also heard about an island called Malta for the first time, which is where she was born.
THE RIPPLE EFFECTS
Three months later, I traveled to Malta, where we lived together for three amazing years. In that time I became known as That Indian Food Guy – master of spices, cooking coach/instructor/tutor retreat facilitator, and healer.
And in December 2019, we left Malta to follow a mysterious call on our hearts, to ‘Go to South Africa.’ It is from this new space that I now write.
WHY WRITE A BLOG?
I write, to unravel all the stories and lessons I’ve accumulated along the way. I write HERE, to collect, sort, and organize said stories and lessons; and to train in and practice the craft of storytelling. Because before I die, there is an epic story of three generations, across three continents, that I would like to pen down.
This is my Calling. I can’t escape it. When I try, it haunts me with a deep and disturbing restlessness. It guides the direction of my feet, in spite of the wayward direction of my thoughts. This is why I am here.
I am in awe of you, and how you are both a reflection of a piece of me, and also of the Love from which we all come, and into which we all return.
Philen of the Naidu clan 😉