The breeze makes its presence known through the
crevices between the windows even as the sun has been making an appearance. Yet I want
to envelope within myself – if only a thing like that would be possible. From
eight down to four layers of clothing in this my first week, I think I’m surviving
the Patna winter rather well for someone who originally hails from the coast.
I also struggle with the phantom called 3G (and I’m
convinced no such thing exists just yet). I painfully wait for my Twitter
timeline to refresh. I can finally scroll through and happen to read this quote:
On earth there is no heaven but there
are pieces of it” ~Jules Renard
it instantly gets me reflecting on why I chose travel.
I’ve mentioned this in some of my previous posts and
I maintain that. October 2012. One solo trip – my first – did the trick for me.
One day I was contemplating how I could allow my leave to lapse and before I
knew it I was sitting at a beach reading. But it wouldn’t be until another six
months before I’d set out traveling again - which means that I wasn’t ‘reformed’
in an instant. Of course I was bitten by the travel bug; the virus took its
time to take over my senses! Looking back, what I find fascinating is that
travel did not cross my mind even once during those six months.
So how did it go from ‘travel-not-on-my-mind’ to
Ladakh was that watershed moment of my life. It was
my second time in the region but something clicked and a lot changed. I
returned back home to find myself furiously typing on my laptop spending an
entire day travelogue-ing my every experience. I was under a spell – a spell
that helped me breakaway from my earlier block - the writer’s block.
Thus began a journey – a journey of traversing
through lands outside and of worlds within.
In that moment I found myself taking a little pledge
- I’d start by taking off once every quarter at least. It’s a pledge I adhered
to. And I glad I did because it’s true that if you set your mind to something,
it can be possible.
In the 15 months between that Ladakhi September and
the December of 2014, I planned my annual leaves from work (which were no more
than 29 days including public and national holidays) ahead of time. I
capitalized on the weekends – so if I’d take off on a Friday evening and return
at the end of the next weekend on a Sunday evening (or sometimes even an early
Monday morning showing up bright and refreshed to work directly) I’d easily
have a 9 day holiday at my disposal – of which only 5 comprised of paid leave!
If you’ve done the math you’d realise that one can
easily get away with this once every quarter and still have 9 days of leave
remaining at the end of the year – which goes to say that you can travel longer
if you’d like.
And just like that I transitioned from traveling once
every five odd months to then traveling at least once every quarter; the
emphasis being on ‘at least’ – because as I transitioned I wanted more.
Once a quarter seemed too much of a wait. I wasn’t traveling
solo all the time either. Regardless, I’d begun to earn the reputation of being
the person who knew what her two consecutive travel experiences over the next
few months would be. Or weeks (as it gradually turned out to be)!
Before I knew it I was taking off from the city every
other weekend exploring and experiencing places that were no more than a local
train ride away from home.
I did the math. In those 15 months I covered way too
many kilometres to count.
But that wasn’t all.
Travel had made me want to write more. It made me
want to share my every little anecdote from the road – not merely of posing
next to a monument or two but of experiencing humanity, of finding ways to put my
faith back one personal encounter at a time. It is one thing to know of
something first-hand but it’s completely different when you get told that
someone else has decided to embark on a similar path because they’ve read or
heard about yours.
On second thoughts, maybe I should retract my earlier
statement about choosing travel. I didn’t choose travel; it chose me!
Labels: female solo traveller, India, solo travel, travel