Now I keep stressing on why it is important to experience a trip like it should be. Most of us usually plan a trip, book the air tickets, book a hotel online, reach the airport in time, travel to the place, rest, change, dress up nice for the pictures to come, see new places, click a 100 pictures of themselves in good lighting and backgrounds, come back, check in and check out on Facebook, drink, sleep, get to the airport in time, come back to life, upload pictures and bloat at the likes.
Here is a vagabonds’ mandatory to-do’ list and if you do these, you are a certified true traveller. Here is my compulsory crazy list:
1. Talk to at least 5 strangers
Autowallahs, fellow passengers, chaiwallahs, ticket booth guys, traffic police, anyone at all. You are in a new place looking different and confused, people love to be superior and help and share. Find yourself new fun stories and maybe make great friends in the process.
I have spoken to a farmer, an entrepreneur, fishermen, a drug vendor, 2 college girls, numerous drivers and a thousand others. They helped me, took help, shared stories and insights. Some of them saved my trip, suggested me places, gave me directions told me stories.
2. Collect real souvenirs for yourself
I don’t mean the crazy binge shopping you do at the flea markets. Gather things that one will find only if they go to the place again; things that are so native to that place that they don’t fit into your “everything-matches” room.
I have stones from my trek to Triund, sand from my trip to Odisha, the Islamic cap from my visit to the Haji Ali, shells from my walk on Juhu and several other crazy little things.
3. Do something outrageously crazy
There is no trip without one thing that you will talk for years to come. It will be extremely unlike you and take even you by surprise. But don’t keep out the crazy if you are opening up enough for a trip like this. It could be running after a bus and chasing it down (on foot first/ in a cab later) till you catch it, or it could be jumping into the sea from a speedboat inspiring other to follow, or it could be socializing with a very nice drug vendor, or walking around the city all night long, or changing clothes in public toilets or offering a lift to a really old farmer in a dhoti or getting completely happily lost in a new city.
You need to know what is unsafe and what good crazy is and if you do, do not forget to pack the crazy up and take it along with you on the trip.
3. Survive on native food items – mixing up
Don’t fuss about “no good food” in a new city. When you started, you were kind of buying into that deal. Now try and eat the way locals do. Survive on idlis, wada paos, daal baati, momos; because if whole cities eat them so happily, they won’t kill you. And there should be a rule for penalizing tourists that are averse to trying street food in India. And if you are a drinker, do not miss out of local brands of beer and other kinds of booze. Go and mix up in the crowd, be one of their own!
5. Observe their accent and go talking like that
Why be enslaved by our own tongue. Speak how you would like to, observe new languages carefully, and see what makes it different from yours. Try to imbibe it, mix in, be a local; it is not just very useful and handy but also extremely interesting. Pick up words, ask their meanings, don’t ask the rikshawwaalah “what?, I don’t speak Punjabi, English please” more than the 1st few times. Though while you are at it, do not end up offending someone.
6. Take up one major risk/adventure
Travelling is all about moving out of your comfort zone. There is no point putting so much money in if you do not find something new about you. Do adventure sports if they scare you, if millions do them and don’t die, you won’t either, and if you do, well you maybe had to.
Go to places you usually rule out as boring, light and sound shows, temples, festivals, forts. Be more talkative than usual. Take a roadways bus, sit in a pool fatfatiya, ride a bike, fall from the bike while riding one (at slow speeds of course), jump off the boat and swim around; do whatever sounds too scary too you, face and conquer it.
7. Start a trend – discover one new place/ thing to do in the city, go off-beat, do not sleep
Do not sleep; your office and regular old life will dull you into sleeping anyway. And what a waste it is to sleep, you do nothing at all, just lie down killing hours and hours.
Go sit all night on the marine drive to see illegal bike races with half the city, go to the Santara Kulfiwala on the road opposite Xaviers college, go find old Mumbai with old rickety taxis and watch DDLJ at the Maratha mandir and go see Raj Mandir while you are in Jaipur seeing the Hawa Mahal, shop at Maidan Market, go to Chambal and eat sugar-canes in UP.
Take your list of “places to see”, then Google for an hour, find that one off the beaten path place that no one sees and go see it. It may disappoint you 3 out of 5 times, but the other 2 times, you will come back with a crazy-ass place to brag about. And believe me, as you keep doing this, you will get better at discovery.
8. Click absolutely random pictures – not 100 of yourself in the mirror with a pout
Click whatever amuses you and anything you would like to remember. You will end up with a 100 pictures, there pictures are pure memory. I do not spend too much time at the camera though I would want to.
You and your face and your clothes will come back with you to your city, please look outside the likes on facebook on pout-loaded faces and capture what really matters.
9. Write, however bad it may be
Writing is the best way to express things, reflect, share and remember. And fortunately, it is available to all of us. Keep a little diary handy for those times when inspiration strikes and when it does, get down to pen down all your deep thoughts, crazy ideas, dreamy reflections and funny stories.
10. Get Filmy – stand at the summit of your destination like you are Ranbir Kapoor from Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani and let yourself dream of the journeys to come
For every traveller, the passion and the living, irresistible, growing desire to see new things is the biggest asset. Do not satisfy yourself with this one trip. Let the exhilaration of standing at a beautiful place in a new land with a proud refreshed mind push you into more journeys of the type. When you finally conclude your trip and stand so quiet and so at peace, make new plans and hope new hopes.
Promise yourself your next adventure!