It was a dark and stormy night.
Okay not night, but late evening.
There was a massive storm raging. It uprooted trees, took down buildings and caused havoc.
Traffic was severely disrupted. Neighbors worried about their folks out there, praying for their safe return home.
Finally, around 6 pm, it subsided and settled down to rain.
At our place, all of us were present. And busy trying to decide whether pakora or bajji would be better with ginger chai.
A little while later, replete and a bit bored, we sat around.
Suddenly my Mom jumped up saying, “hey Vidya, let’s go out!”
I looked at her wondering if she’d lost her mind. Also I was reading a very interesting thriller.
But I knew better than to say no to her, and resigned myself to adventure, because her second name is OpenMinded and she is my travel inspiration.
We changed, and stepped out into the storm. Being with my Mom is an exhilarating experience, what with her rather sharp wit packaged in kindness. We hopped into the first bus that arrived, marveling that it had even turned up. We had a vague destination in mind, but this bus wasn’t on that route.
What happened next was amazing. Because of the traffic diversions, the bus took the route we wanted to go on, and dropped us exactly outside the cinema we were headed to. When we emerged from the theater three hours later, the weather was quite clear and we returned home, feeling rather happy. What an enriching experience!
I learned the joy of travel from being with my Mom. Always willing to take off on impromptu trips whenever we could afford it – be it inside the city or the suburbs. I remember how we once walked ten kilometers on the Medak road in Hyderabad because we wanted to see where it went. That we landed up in some fields where we picked “toor dal” and hopped on a cart back home is another story. We cooked that dal and thought it was the best we tasted.
Take only memories, leave only footprints
In between moving cities and colleges I had my share of unreserved bus and train journeys and sometimes spent time standing by the train door, wind blowing my hair, chatting with a like minded soul late into the night.
All these outings probably prompted me to choose a career that included intensive travel. I still remember these “strangers” and our conversations vividly.
I find travel magical mainly because of the diverse people I meet, the kindnesses I experience, and of course, with each trip, I find a little more of myself.
Truly, travel broadens the mind!
Like most people, I too have a travel wish list whose theme is … everywhere. Of course, it goes without saying I want to visit all my friends who are settled in various countries. I am fortunate to have a flexible work schedule and can take off on a whim.
So dear world, it’s time to go on that blind date.
I love what I’ve seen so far.
I live for new experiences, discovering unknown destinations.
Because impromptu unplanned trips bring the best and most cherished memories.
Let’s feel the thrill of that unplanned trip, exploring the world.
I can’t help reminiscing about some of my happiest trips, an exercise in self exploration…
- Dharamsala to meet the Dalai Lama. Everyone who knew laughed at my confidence and my naivete at emailing him for a meeting. Yet, within the week there I was, being hugged by The Man himself.
- Hundru falls in Ranchi on a whim – ended up spending the most glorious morning, treated to green tea with ginger and lemon by a total stranger who told me stories about his life as we watched the waterfalls.
- Came home Friday night after work and at decided to take off on the next bus to Kanchipuram by myself simply because I had heard of a strange and unbelievable experience my colleague had during her visit. Where an auto driver took me under his wing, settled me into a nice hotel and took me sightseeing and then finally dropped me off at my destination from where i could take my bus out. Still remember the delicious food! And the movie I watched that night.
- Took off to Karwar to visit the Power Plant–an experience I’ll never forget. The hospitality, the food sitting on a bench under an awning, just off the deep ravine watching the drizzle of the waterfall, the affectionate people, the crazy jeep ride. Surreal!
- That moment when our bus practically parked at the edge of the deep ravine across from Cherrapunji Falls – for a minute I was pretty sure we’d become part of the landscape, but the driver stopped just a few inches short, safely.
- That lovely family of cooks who invited us in and fed us a tasty and hot meal after our visit to the Jwalaji temple in Himachal.
I could go on and on, but dear World, let’s talk about our next trip.
I vote for a backpacking journey rather than spending hours over that itinerary. Let’s take off with minimal packing with only our essentials and live like nomads.
Let’s go where our fancy takes us.
Let’s pretend we have a pair of wings.
Let’s flip a coin.
Heads I win, Tails you lose.
Let’s fly! Feel the breeze caress us as we glide across the sky, looking around, ahead and down, to stop at wherever takes our fancy.
Could be that artisan by the roadside weaving baskets, narrating stories to his granddaughter, or a promising road sign. Let’s see that basket take shape, listen to some stories . . . and follow that road sign to a farm where that puzzled family greets us and then invites us to lunch.
We’ll set off again, as they watch, amazed, at our wings.
Don’t be surprised if I suggest that we head towards Munnar, because someone shared photos of the Kurinji flower that blooms only once in twelve years. Let’s go and explore the purple and blue mountains, breathe the air, drink tea by the roadside and revel in nature.
Pic credit: Kerala Tourism
Next stop, Gujarat, to see the Modhera Sun Temple. Then the Gir National Park to meet the queen of the jungle do the catwalk. Eat an authentic Gujarati thali at that restaurant and laze the afternoon away on the stone bench outside the Adalaj Stepwell.
Rajasthan could be next, as we explore the sands of time, soaking in the rich culture that is India. Maybe sing a song or two under the moonlight, after all we are on a date, right?
I would then love to wander northward, heading towards heaven on earth, because truly, my heart is currently in that State. We could go to Kangra and spend the day at the Masrur rock-cut stone temple, a marvelous piece of architecture.
As we enjoy this ancient site, I tell you I want to see the Buddhas of Bamiyan and of course you agree. We take off with renewed energy and hover over the mammoth statues, admiring them.
Since we’re flying, should we go to China next or elsewhere? I vote China – to see the Great Wall. And fair warning, I have a fetish for huge statues, so I’ll stop to stare each time we come across one.
Now may we traverse across India again to get a glimpse of the Taj Mahal and renew our blind date vows?
Now surprise me as I close my eyes and put my trust in you, holding your hand. Let’s see if you can read my mind!
The gentle pressure of your hand urges me to open my eyes and lo! You’ve brought me to a place I’ve only dreamed of visiting! Machu Picchu! Let’s spend some time in Peru. Let’s play with the children on the streets!
Onward to soar over Rio, Brazil and hug the statue of Christ, the Redeemer!
And then, Angkor Vat in Cambodia to explore this great monument. I’d like to spend the night there, enjoying the silence, broken only by nature’s sounds, listening, letting the serene surroundings soothe us.
It is time now to head towards Europe and roam around Rome, Spain and the French countryside. So romantic. Can we play hide and seek in the Coliseum?
Let’s bask in Santorini, Greece.
And when we’ve had our fill of olives and gorgeous landscapes, let’s fly past Stonehenge
Let’s make sure we visit The Galata Mevlevi Museum on a Sunday in time to see the whirling dervish show. Or even catch the show at the Hodjapasha Dance Theater – transformed from a 15th century Turkish bath. I’ve heard that the sema ceremony is a spiritual journey of dervishes whirling for divine love.
How appropriate for our date!
And later, we can spend time in the stars, relaxing on the clouds, reading Rumi’s poetry and sipping elixir from one glass with two straws.
Beyond the rightness or wrongness of things there is a field, I’ll meet you there.
I am sure I’ll drift off into a deep sleep….
….to wake up in my own bed.
But believe me, I am ready whenever you call!
No itinerary, except the secret agenda in my head.
Just following our hearts.
I am in love with you, dear world, and your incredible secrets.
Sure I have my bucket list but the idea of a #theblindlist is infinitely more exciting.
Because when I #SayYesToTheWorld, I am essentially saying Yes to Myself.
So much to see, so much to explore and experience in this lifetime!
What’s your travel inspiration?
Do you travel to explore?
Would you #SayYesToTheWorld?
Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world