I remember, as a child how much I hated to travel (a confession). There was some kind of discomfort in travelling or I’d say moving from one place to another. I’d avoid it at any cost and allow myself to travel only if it was most important. Then, travelling meant to me, just going about or being unstable. Though I enjoyed travelling by train with family or peers, and the excitement of being with cousins at their homes pulled me up some how.
And then came days, when I didn’t want to move at all. During my post graduation and later years of working, I was perceived as someone who won’t move out in weekends. The only bet to make my move could be the best company or I’d better be alone. I was no way an introvert type personality, just that travelling any where was not my idea of enjoyment.
Until 2011, when I got married to a person of my choice who just loved to travel :) Irony, isn’t it? So much so, that we together created a travel business. If I sum up my travel experience of last four years, that would equal the rest of 25 years of my life. Crazy? Willingly or not, I was made to travel much often till I began to enjoy myself :)I learnt that travelling is a delightful way of learning which is not easily forgotten. It sets in your system and you become really experienced at the end of it. I remember my last travel to Kolkata, where circumstances demanded that I travel alone to the Dakshineshwara Temple beside the holy Ganges. Though it was my second time, but I was reluctant of travelling alone, considering new city and also because I had no phone working. If faith had not driven it, I might have not. At the end of it, there was a wonderful sense of achievement as I arrived home at about 8 in the evening. So, for me travelling by yourself builds up your confidence and ensures more learning.
Travelling is a great stress buster and a connector. Many times, travel turns out to be a retreat. You typically don’t need an out of world place for it. You simply need a conscious breaking out from the mind routine, and catching up with present. Some times, I find myself worrying of the facilities, traffic, weather, accommodation etc while on travel. A single contact with now, sweeps it all away. I like to travel by car or train if it’s a long distance. The roads are always thrilling, as there are many moments that simply steal your attention from anything else, besides adding to your learning. You see people, villages, townships, culture, valleys, hills, rivers, water falls and practically stop at any point if you are self driving. While travelling to Kashmir, we always ensure stop at small points and refresh with local styled cuisines or just tea. Drinking from the springs wherever possible is simply cool and quenching as water flows down your throat.
Though I enjoy casual travelling to any place but I like hills and nature, the most. They just boot up my system develop my sense of self- connection. Cool, fresh air is enough criteria for me to long for a place and if it’s as beautiful as Kashmir or Bhaderwah, then what else one wants!!
I am a keen observer of culture and tradition being followed regionally- the way the folks adore Gods, observe religion, eat, celebrate and dance is something that I want to look for during my visits. Visiting ancient temples and sites, help me connect with the history, and I rarely miss that. The ruins of Kashmir have always brought me there, several times. Every broken part seems to be revealing some vital fact, beyond suppression or manipulation. There are many travelers visiting just to explore local culture and prominent festivals. In my state alone, there are more than 10 languages being spoken, and at least twenty unique festivals marking the regions. During my travel to Rajasthan, I got chance to explore the rural area of Barmer. It was learning to see how people lived with out transport system in place and how they coped up with the hot desert climate. Rural areas have a lot to teach us which modernization seems to have snatched away from our lives. How urbanization has shunned the ways that were simple and natural, adopting and implanting the ones that are damaging. The concrete buildings in place of natural mud houses have already proved the damages and health issues.
I traveled to Wayanad (North of Kerala) last year, and got a chance to experience bamboo rafting. Later as our raft was passing along the tribal area, the guide showed us the bamboo bridges that had been used for crossing over. The raft was the initial discovery of the tribal people who wanted to cross over for their daily needs. These tribes are still following old methods of self healing and have known many plants and herbs that they still put to use. In a way they are truly independent, and much more aware than us.
Travelling thus, opens one’s senses to outer and inner reality. We become thoughtful, aware, learned and alive by travelling. As rightly put by some one ,”Don’t tell me how much educated you are. Tell me how much have you traveled”.
Traveling is a religion for those, who know they are not done. And I look forward to living by this religion :)