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
and 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 have-feet-will-travel?
September 2013. Ladakh.
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.
Allow me to demonstrate.
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!
And that’s the reason why I’m also braving winter in the erstwhile city of Patliputra as I pen this post.