Shobha Joseph, Traveller
Shobha Joseph grew up in Bangalore, spending her childhood playing sports, singing carols and sneakily chewing gum at Bishop Cotton’s school. She says that singing is the thing she misses the most - it didn’t matter where, because she would sing happily regardless of where she was.
Growing up, Shobha went across the world: moving to New Zealand, making trips to LA and Nashville and having all her things stolen - “My photos, everything!” - in New York’s Penn Station.
On her 21st birthday in New Zealand, she was staying with the Mayor in a small town called Havelock. There she worked at a nursery and spent the winter in the warmth of the glasshouses. She would feed lambs with a bottle every morning, and found the myth didn’t hold up: “All the stuff about lambs being very soft -- it was so rough!” 16 years ago, Shobha was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. But that did not spell the end of her independence.
She continues to this day to travel from India to America, despite how arduous the journey can become. On this side of the ocean is her mother, who recently turned 80. On the other is her cat -- 15 years old, adorable and so fat that she cannot fit in a cage. “She’s like a kid you know.” As both caretaker and someone who needs care, to Shobha strength is knowing that we are each others keeper’s. When people ask her how she finds the strength, she responds with her trademark smile: “For me it’s that I can’t walk, for someone else, it’s something else. Everyone is carrying something: you, me, everyone.”
This has also made her realise her true, deeper independence. We need each other for cement steps and reclining seats, but when the day winds down and you are left by yourself in the silence, any answer you need, or any strength you require is inside you. “This may sound cliched,” she warns, “But if you ask yourself, the answers are already there.”