So for starters, let us just make sure we’re on the same page with our concepts here. When I speak of my untamed lust to travel, I speak of the wonders of the journeys. When I speak of my enthrallment with travel, I speak of it from a layman, plebeian perspective. When I express my amateur desires for wandering off to places, I refer to new, unexplored places. All said and done, I do not necessarily get too many opportunities to give in to my whims and fancies as frequently as I’d be keen to. There is a stark distinction between trips and visits for me. While the former continues to fascinate me since I joined the fan club, the latter I could say I make every few months when I go visit my family, relatives, friends etc. I am a sucker for the former.
So now to the main course, when my roommate asked me if I wanted to join her in joining her college friend who was joining his school friends for a trip to Rishikesh, I naturally did not give her space to rethink on her proposal. It was a trip, for real. However I wasn’t exactly very well acquainted with the company. Straight up, I did not know anyone’s face or name except that of my roommate’s from the apparent group of twelve. Hence the fact that my roommate knew not a single soul apart from her college friend served as incentive for second thoughts to creep in. One way or another, the thrill of travelling and befriending 12 new people won over the insecurities of being trapped with kidnappers and rapists. The itinerary was set by another girl from amongst the 12, which to our satisfaction eliminated the fear of ending up with a dozen of unknown men.
1. Take the bus from Delhi, early morning
2. Halt at Dehradun for 1 night
3. Take the bus the next morning
4. Spend 2 nights and 2 days in Rishikesh
5. Go back to Delhi the same way, except the halt at Dehradun
Within a budget of Rs. 2500, the to-do list comprised of river rafting, cliff jumping, trekking, talking to random strangers and as a part of the deal, travelling and living with them. To say that the first night in the hotel at Dehradun was tongue tied would be concealing our social awkwardness of the day. The journey had been fine but suddenly, my roommate and I were positioned in a room full of overtly enthusiastic faces, at an ease accumulated over a span of ten years of growing up together and an expected and effortless alienation to the couple of newbie-s. The football match on the TV came as a solace to these newbies’ silence. However thanks to the budgetary motel that we were inhabiting the technical interruptions made it look quite unnatural for us to keep facing the TV for reasons other than to avoid social confrontation. After a fair number of visits to the washroom, two skinny best friends walked in with a bag that seemed to be weighing down their shoulder. I am sure I missed the halo above their heads and the white behind their backs. God might have ditched us on the technical front but he managed to cover up by deploying his angels. Thank God for good food and thank God for our unhealthy habits. No more awkward silences, no more blank stares at dilapidated box of a black and white display, no more faking of football frenzy. When Elizabeth Gilbert quoted that “The best people love to eat”, she apparently was understating the significance of the same. What hungry stomachs can do to you I never knew before. The fact that we bonded over the relief to a rather elongated spasm of hunger was nothing short of a revelation to me. The dozen of best friends were now “14 of us”. The number of things I had in common with this set took me by surprise. The kind of books, music, food, life and people we prefer gave us striking resemblances as well as fierce debating grounds.
So in retrospect and in wake of the 21st century, the 2 nights and 2 days of relentless walking around the town of Rishikesh did not exhaust us half as much as our chattering did. The 2 days and 2 nights of living with the lanterns serving as the only source of electricity, in tents with no safety bolt or latch and one charging point for gadgets at least double of the number of people, astonishingly did not get us all frustrated with an overflowing crowd of 14 homo sapiens.
So that is the thing about travel, it serves no dessert. In some odd, unexplained and irrational way, it still manages to make you fall in love with ITSELF over and over again. If there was something that was crystal in my head, it was the primacy of journeys and the craze for them. But this one trip twisted it around to make the halts and the destination have an upper hand. It was a trip for me in all senses of the word. And it satisfied me in more ways than anticipated.
So it wasn’t what I had expected and it altered my concepts about this craving we term wanderlust. May be that’s the thing about travelling. It leaves a mark on your memories and on your consciousness. You leave some things behind, carry some things along and wait to see how it unfolds all that is there to you and how you know yourself.