My first essay into this unfair and unjust profession was when I was very young, like 18 or 19 I would imagine. I flew to, ummm, Pakistan it was, for the summer, to see the parents and like this, courtesy of their employers at the time. I laid a heavy guilt trip on them about dragging me to that country for such a long time and never even taking me to visit India, so they got me a ticket to Katmandu, Nepal (border problems at that time between Lahore and Amritsar). I made my way to Pokhara, where I was sort of adopted by this guesthouse owner's family who put me up and fed me in return for bringing in tourists foreigners. I promptly cancelled my return tickets and vanished.
Some degree of beginner's luck does exist, because doing the things I did and surviving unscathed was quite simply impossible, but I didn't know that then, clueless idiot that I was. It sort of began with inheriting this dude's Enfield motorcycle and Dutch girlfriend, crossing the Himalayas on said bike without knowing how to drive, attempting to cross into India visa-less and near-broke, miraculously actually making Benares, spending a few months penniless hustling on the ghats and developing a heroin addiction, and everything just got worse from there.
Give it about a year later and I returned to Katmandu, true to form penniless and in screaming withdrawals, in torn jeans, floral shirt, plastic flip-flops and nothing else. This is how I ended up living with the gutter scum, dealers, hustlers and pimps of an ancient and crumbling mountain city. The only other foreigner on my side of the gutter was Viktor. He was Russian, which I didn't hold against him, and is probably dead now. So, probably, are Doc and Ramesh and all the others. I love you all. I had never felt as accepted and among my own anywhere, unlikely as the whole situation was.
God help me, but it was beautiful. I never felt such a sense of freedom, walking down the street in worn blue plastic flip-flops, and knowing that it was just me and my wits and nothing else. I didn't talk to another Westerner unless it was to beg money or sell them drugs.
So. One fine day, on the steps of a temple in Darbar square, I asked this foreigner for some money, and he said no but I can get you a job.
This is how I became an English teacher and ended up in front of an early morning class at 7am, junk-sick, dirty, probably near-psychotic, in borrowed shoes and shirt, the institute director looking on apprasingly, all the students older than me and calling me "sir".
I respect a good teacher. It is an under-valued profession.