I’m sitting on a window sill as I write this, feeling the cool breeze on my face and watching the incessant rains spring new life into the wilderness that surrounds my (temporary) home in Goa. The joy of driving, walking and just being in the monsoons is not mine alone. The village folk are out in their carpet-like rice paddies, tilling the land in their colorful ponchos, humming along cheerful tunes at the late monsoon arrival. It took me a few days of being here to slip into the susagade mode of Goa, feeling content with life, appreciating the little things like hot tea and freshly-baked Goan poi on rainy evenings, happy to gaze out at the wild beauty that surrounds me.
At my Goan-Portuguese homestay, I’ve seen travellers come and leave, but I’m the one who stays. 2-3 days, hours of sightseeing or shopping, half-baked conversations, half-indulged tastebuds, and they leave. Never fully appreciating the way the locals live here. Or walking through the sleepy village in the afternoon, greeting the local women in their nightgowns as they exchange neighbourhood gossip. Or salivating at the aromas wafting through village homes. Or feeling gleeful on hearing the bread man’s cycle horn, for local breads fresh out of the oven have arrived. Or trying to get a village shop to open during their afternoon siesta, because life trumps business and money. Or just laying on the rolling meadows, feeling the rains soak your soul.
A month after I gave up my apartment in Delhi and went location independent, I found myself worn out from moving constantly. Then I gave myself a chance to slow travel, to stay in one place for 2 weeks to a month, appreciate (and often experiment with) the way the locals live, unearth its best kept secrets on a bicycle or two wheeler, adapt my taste buds to the local cuisine, and give myself plenty of time to while away, work, and slowly but deeply fall in love.
Slow travel has changed my travel philosophy; no longer a fleeting crush on a gorgeous place, travelling to me is about a deeper relationship with a place, its people, its food, and the memories it leaves me with. It has led me to discovering Goa away from the beaches in its sleepy Portuguese villages and pristine interiors, soul-searching in the once hippie town of Kasar Devi surrounded by the snow-capped Himalayas of Uttarakhand, living in something of a utopian bubble in Auroville, cycling across the countryside of northern Thailand, and living amongst and introspecting with the nuns in Ladakh.
I’m going to go ahead and give you some free advice. Plan one long break – club long weekends, fake a medical leave, do whatever it takes – and slow travel. Go to a place you love, or one you know nothing about. Choose a homestay over a drab hotel room. Plan nothing else. Talk to the locals, be adventurous with your food, spend do-nothing days, and let the road show you a different way of life.
Where would you like to slow travel?
Any contributions to my travel fund (in kind or otherwise) will be highly appreciated!