I have ALWAYS loved travelling. As a child, I would look forward to long voyages to unknown, exotic countries, and small, unheard of port cities in India. I would plan and pack for our biannual Calcutta trip more carefully than I would solve probability sums, much to my Mom’s exasperation :) There would be TGV rides to Paris and random drives to Bodhgaya and Shantiniketan. I used to love watching the sea change its moods when it was far away from land. Snowcapped Philadelphia, Easter celebration in Las Palmas, french bistros – the real ones – in Brest! I used to love fighting for the window seat, and absorbed everything I would see on these journeys. The food, the culture, the countryside. Even firangs kissing in public – something I thought was exciting, simply because I had to steal a glance at them, safely away from Ma’s line of sight ! School trips were a different ballgame. It would be Mumbai, Goa, Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Sikkim, Siliguri, once even Calcutta! And I used to just about breathe in excitement in the days that preceded the trip. I bought Feni in Goa strictly because I knew that Goa and Feni went hand in hand -I still don’t know how it tastes, I was in class 8 then. I collected silken pouches and trinkets from small roadside shops on the trip to Sikkim. I collected things that create vivid pictures of those trips in my mind to this day.
Then came college. I would pack for my vacations way in advance, used to write my last exam well only so that the train journey in the sleeper class would be peaceful – I didn’t want incorrect answers to become so important that they gave me sleepless nights when I was travelling at least! I would be the first one to walk out of the hostel, get the auto, and wait endlessly for my other travel mates. My seat of choice would invariably be side lower. All familiar faces in the train would get hidden under pillows and bedsheets! And I would have my nice big airy window, a book in hand. And the walkman – another one my most treasured possesions (I even had a name for it. LOL!). We used to often do out of station trips back in college – a random evening drive to Lonavla, a well planned camp-on-the-beach trip to Harihareshwar, bike trips to Mahabaleshwar, frequent bus journeys from Pune to Bombay and back. And trust me when I say this – I am not exaggerating – I had the reputation of staying up all night before ALL these trips. I was one of those people who had to be dragged out of bed even on an exam morning. But before a trip, I used to be a different person. Camera – check. Bag – check. Money – check. Sunscreen – check. Toothbrush – check. All this before people would even be up for the day :)
And then my Bombay years. Surprisingly I had been busier than the president of United States in those years. I had a job where a break meant crime, and commuting meant an hour standing in a crowded local train compartment at least for an hour for an hour everyday. Unless you decided to take an auto rickshaw and get stuck in the traffic for one extra hour. That was travel in its own right. Pretty much all the travelling I did in Bombay was on the local train, discounting of course the infrequent trips to Pune or Patna. And then Kolad and Goa happened. Two big, memorable trips in 2 years. Not bad at all! But I could never do Goa like I would have liked to. I was with the boss :) I couldn’t bargain like crazy to buy trinkets in the flea market, I did not see the churches unlike my class 8 trip. All I did was watch the sea, something I used to frequently do even in Bombay, and I ate tonnes of cheese omelette. Goes without saying that Goa wasn’t as fulfilling as I would have liked it to be.
But the last 4 months have been amazing (also) in terms of travel. I had written my final semester papers only because I had planned to go to Ladakh immediately after college – all alone. The trip never happened. But when I went to Ladakh this June, I thanked my stars I didn’t make that trip. Ladakh is not the kind of place someone like me can go alone. I am not exactly eccentric, much as I like people to believe so :) I digress. So Konki, Ranchi, Ladakh, Manali, and Delhi (I count Delhi because airports are as much a part of the journey, and as loved, as the destination itself) – all in June. Bombay, a place I thought was home, became a holiday destination I travelled to in July. The big Coorg road trip in August. Gokarna and its beautiful beaches, lush green jungles, and beautiful hills – all at once in September. Needless to add, the wanderlust hasn’t done much to our recession hit pockets. But that said, I have never been happier! I have stories to tell – the Ladakh Manali near death experience, the biting cold that almost made us give up the bike trip to Khardungla. The wonderful resort in Coorg. The beautiful roads. The horrible food. The best beach in Gokarna, and the super omelette breakfast on the beach. The best practice to reach Kudle from Gokarna town early in the morning – the long walk into peace and unadulterated happiness at the sight of the sea. And the train journey back home to Bangalore that I would not want to remember. But I know I will. I will ONLY remember it :) Tomorrow we will do a day trip a little outside of Bangalore to this place called Nrityagram and have lunch at Kuteeram right next to it. I am excited! Come December, we will have country road take us home to Ranchi, Konki, and Bombay. And I am hoping, Pune too. We will do one and a half day long train journeys and 2 hour long flights, probably a 4 hour bus journey. All in 12 days! Next year will be Hampi. And backpacking through Rajasthan.
In a year or two we will finally backpack through Europe. I will finally get to go to Greece! We are already planning it! Travel lets me see things that even NGC and Travel and Living and NDTV Good Times don’t. We have five sensory organs – all of mine are too lazy. They don’t always work together. One, two, if I’m lucky, maybe even 3 together! But when I travel, I see. I touch. I hear. I smell. I taste. And I remember. I like that about travelling. The fact that it helps me grow. I am the happiest when I know I am getting somewhere. The most successful people in the world can’t constantly be getting somewhere in life. There’s bound to be some kind of stagnancy. The one marked by endless, brainless TV shows or extremely frequent eating out. Especially for someone like who doesn’t particularly enjoy working out. I run (something I haven’t done in a long time) only because it’s a prototype of travelling. Travel helps me stay away from boredom. There’s always something to look forward to, something to plan. The kind in which I need to share the outcome of my plans only with people I love/ like. It’s not an obligation. It’s something I enjoy more than analytics :) And there’s always a home to come back to.