21 months ago, when I packed up my home into a backpack and decided to hit the road indefinitely, I wondered how long it would take me to crave a “normal” life again.
Here’s a confession: Even though I’ve been solo tripping for years, sometimes the idea of being somewhere remote by myself, without a known face or language, can send a shiver down my spine. My mind inexplicably conjures up worst case scenarios and I withdraw into my little shell of what the hell am I doing. The freedom, thrill and self-confidence of solo traveling is often interspersed with moments of anxiety, nervousness and fear. This is how I conquer them: Dreaming about the romance of solo travel. Our emotions tend to be a reflection of the thoughts in our mind. So to psyche myself when I’m undertaking a solo adventure, I focus on the romance of solitude; I imagine myself blissfully gazing at the snowcapped mountain peaks without a care in the world, or swapping life stories with a stranger who’s life maybe very different from mine but our souls sing the same tune. Indeed, before I left for Guatemala, my first tryst with Central America, I calmed my nerves by imagining chatting in flawless Spanish with a Mayan woman and becoming lifelong friends! (My trip …
We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. ~ Pico Iyer As much as Pico Iyer’s words have inspired me on my own journeys, I spent the last week soaking in the wisdom of 667 of my readers – reading through the entries to my last contest. On popular demand, here are the most creative and inspiring answers (along with photos of the great minds behind them): I travel because… “Bank balances, car brands, and salary hikes are a poor measure of life’s worth. I measure it by the songs I sang facing the Nilgiris, the unhurried conversations with strangers by the sea, the stories I heard, the people I loved and the many homes I discovered in strange places.” ~ Ullas Marar; @ullasmarar *** “I want to breathe other air, taste other food, speak other languages so that everywhere …
So this post goes out to all of you who dream of building a life of travel. If you are sitting on the fence about quitting your job, this is a plan for you in real dollars and cents (or should I say, in meagre rupees?):
Last week in the Pico Bonito forest reserve of Honduras, I met Juan and Roberto of the indigenous Garifuna community. I was fascinated by their affection for the dense rainforest and the diverse life it harbored, but even more by their culture, an integral part of which involves celebrating death as a new beginning. When one of their own dies, there is no mourning at the funeral; instead the community gets together to play the upbeat Punta music, dance and make merry – One last celebration!
I’m cozying up in my favorite boutique hotel in Bangalore as I write this. This is the closest I’ve come to calling a place home over the last seven months, when I gave up my apartment in Delhi and adopted a nomadic life (Read: I’m Hitting The Road, Indefinitely). I’ve slow-travelled in Thailand since, sampled island life in the Seychelles, celebrated Christmas in Germany, splurged on Australia’s wine countryside, dived in the Philippines, and scratched India’s surface just a little deeper. I’ve experienced varying degrees of joy, nostalgia and frustration, but the feeling that has become a constant is that of liberation. In my mind and in my words, I feel no shackles. I plan to go as long and as far as the road will let me, but not before making these confessions:
Earlier this week, I arrived in my hometown Dehradun, to find a big box waiting for me to open. I was overwhelmed to find a sparkling trophy inside, engraved with my name – a physical testimony to the “Best Travel Blogger” award that I won at the Indian Blogger Awards 2013, held by Indiblogger! A big THANK YOU to everyone for your support, especially those who spared a moment to write a testimonial for this blog. My inspiration to blog is back with a vengeance, and I’m opening the floor to questions and topics YOU want me to write about. I promise to share honest views on travel, places that I’ve been to, and blogging (and life, if you really want my warped perspective). I also hope to open up the discussion to all of you and seek your inputs in the comments, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Please read these FAQs to see topics that have been covered on the blog before, and send me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, with an interesting email subject. Today’s question comes from Kashmira and Gwendolyn: WHAT …
Looking back at my travels in 2013 has left me filled with nostalgia. One minute, I’m hitchhiking in Bahrain, the next, walking on a glacier in Canada. I’m going down memory lane in Singapore, and joining the Fallas street parade in Spain. I’m indulging in the most delicious Thai food in Chiang Rai, overdosing on hoppers in Sri Lanka, and sipping gluhwein in Germany. What a year it’s been!
I sit 30,000 feet high, writing this as the sun sets above cotton-shaped clouds. The last two months have been a roller coaster ride, along the beaches of Karnataka, the backwaters of Goa, the terraced valleys of Kumaon, the forests of Madhya Pradesh, on trains and buses, and now, on my Indigo flight, headed to where it all began, Bangalore. It’s been two months since I packed up my life from Delhi and went location independent (Read: I’m Hitting The Road, Indefinitely). I’m euphoric on most days and nervous on some. I’m introspective on some days and carefree on others. As Shams of Tabriz once said, with a home nowhere, I have everywhere to go.
I find myself penning this post rather unexpectedly. I’m staying at a 500-year-old Portuguese house, restored by a charming Goan family, in a sleepy little village called Aldona, in the hinterlands of Goa. This will be my home till the end of September. I’ve spent the last few days strolling along pristine backwaters, little hamlets stuck in time, lush green rice paddies, and streets adorned with abandoned Portuguese houses and old churches. Wake me up when September ends.