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  • Writer's pictureAislinn Shivakumar

Home and Away

So! I’ve just passed the halfway point of my time in the Maldives. Overall, it’s been a fantastic experience. When I first arrived, I was sure six months would not be enough time. Honestly, at the end of my time here, I would still happily do a bit longer, but as I settle into my work routine and find myself increasingly busy at the shop and with other activities, the initial wanderlust of the island has given way to a new kind of reality for me.

Although returning to reality may sound like a negative bump, it’s actually nicer for me, because it shows that I’m settled in and a moving part of the island. Sure, there are things I still don’t know how to get done – I spend a lot of time wandering between offices trying to find the office that does the thing it doesn’t sound like it should be doing but does anyway – I’m still learning and this is home now.

The bookshop is really my domain and I love my little shop and the private tranquillity it lends to me after customers have found their books and I’m left with my thoughts. Some nights, I will be in there working until 11 because it’s such a nice space to get stuff done, (and the Wi-Fi is amazing, but shh, don’t tell anyone!)

The last couple of weeks have been decidedly more tough than other weeks as I’ve found myself looking at my calendar, working out how many days I had until I was going home. This isn’t the first time I’ve been away from home for long stretches. Far from it actually, I’ve done lengthy trips numerous times before. I survived three months working at an American summer camp and I have never faced a tougher job before or since, (that was an experience, and I’m amazed it didn’t turn me off having children for good). The last two weeks however saw me facing my first real experience of home sickness. Despite being in paradise, it’s still possible to miss the comforts of home.

I think a large part of it probably comes down to the world outside of the island currently. There is no getting off the island at the moment due to the Covid-19 situation. I can go across to Soneva Jani, but I need to get a PCR test, close the store, etc. so, the process is made a little more complicated than usual. In ‘normal’ times, I could spend my days off in the neighbouring island or go to Male. There would be cafés and shopping. I know people from Male through my writing career and I would love to meet them, but obviously that isn’t an option at the moment.

While it’s definitely one of the best places to be trapped during a pandemic, island life is a world unto itself. My homesickness also stemmed from the knowledge that four people who I have made good friends with are all leaving within a few days of each other. This is the norm when it comes to living on resorts. People come and go all the time and you live with the knowledge that, while you make best friends with people while you’re here, you may never see them again after they leave. And you’ll never have the same group of friends together in the same place again. It’s a unique part of life here.

Either way, I definitely struggled the last couple of weeks. And then the feeling passed, and my bright mood was back again. Simple as that. Another part of island life; just go with the flow, things will continue to change at their own pace and you just roll with it.

Certainly, albeit probably unsurprisingly from a bookseller, I found myself hunting for books to read when I was at my lowest. Despite being busier than before with all the activities I’m now getting involved with, I wanted to read more than ever, and I went straight back to my roots of reading.

First, I returned to a book I haven’t listened to in over ten years. The Secrets of Crickley Hall was and is one of my absolute favourite books in horror and it was simply a case of going back to basics. What books have I loved reading at home, bring it with me when I’m away from it.

The second was Girl, Serpent, Thorn. I’m hugely involved in the book-ish side of Instagram. It’s a large part of my community and I found I haven’t been so involved with it since I arrived on the island – no surprise, it’s been busy. But GST was a big release last year and I decided I wanted to reconnect with that crowd and what they were talking about and that was the book that I decided to go with.

And but the end of a couple of low weeks, like I said, it was gone and I’m feeling great again!


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