The first ever edition of Lonely planet India magazine had for its cover hot air balloons over Cappadoccia. That was the first time I had heard of the place. There was an article on Cappadocia too. I never read that article. That was way back in February 2010.
Fate has it that I have my very own pictures of hot air balloons over Cappadocia and what do you know, I have an article to go with it.
Our ride was not a smooth one. It came with a bundle of hiccups!
You can read it here.
Adventure is out there!
The Gwalior fort , sprawling fortress in Madhya Pradesh is song in brown and blue.
Now there is a positive and a negative attached to everything, the two sides of the coin that the (clueless) noble souls keep talking about. How do I know about this binary nature of all things travel? I experienced it. Just yesterday!
Lets start with the bit that I want to spend the rest of my life forgetting; the not so good ( but could have been worse) bit. Here goes
There is this nagging feeling that devours all peace of mind, it eats away at the layers of self-confidence and happy anticipation even before you board the train. Don’t ignore it. That’s your gut telling you ‘ Adventure is good, alright, but hey baby, baby its a wild world’. I had a lot of it on this dare-devil trip.
Travel is supposed to be relaxing. It’s supposed to fill the vacuüm and clear away the rubble. It’s supposed to be simple happiness. It’s a place ( pun un intentional) you go to, to find yourself, re discover forgotten strengths and explore new possibilities. It is not supposed to wear you down. It’s not supposed to make you jump off the train ( at the platform, just clarifying) , rush to the nearest airport and sprint to the booking window and scream “Get me the hell out of here!” Then after hours of delays when you finally get home, shut the door and drop your back pack and sit on the floor with your back against the door you smile for the first time in days.
Travel is not supposed to do that.
Then there is the proverbial silver lining.
When everything is going wrong. When every day you fight with that part of you which wants to turn back, head home to all things familiar and safe. When you are exhausted even before you wake up. When you have tears in your eyes. When you are alone. When you feel alone in an all crowded train. When you begin to wonder why God bothered with Adam when He should have got to Eve first and then been done with creation. That’s when you come across something that makes it worthwhile. Sometimes its a towering fort lined with turquoise elephants. At times it’s as simple as a perch with a stunning view. And when you sit there and all the things that have happened from the time you boarded the train till that moment flash across your mind, the lesson reveals itself. It tells you “Adventure might hurt you, but monotony will kill you.”
Traveling solo is an art. It cannot be taught. It just comes to you. Like all things art it involves letting go of the fear of being wrong and willingly allowing yourself to be lost.
A lot of people shy away from the thought of going away to a new place all by themselves. My best response to them to date as been ” If you cannot put up with yourself how can you expect others to do so?”
Jokes apart, here a few reasons why you should take a solo trip at least once in your lifetime.
In no particular order:
#1. Discover yourself again :- Change happens all around us. It happens from within and without. You change. Every now and then you need to meet the all new You.
#2. Discover your strengths:- I have always had trust issues or so I thought. But guess what, I was wrong. I packed a bag and hopped on a plane trusting someone I had never met and who had no reason to be nice to me.
#3. Make new friends:- Every other person is a potential friend when you are alone.
#4. Increased awareness:- When you are alone you are more aware of everything around you. You learn to take care of yourself.
#5. Do everything you want :- Although a bit selfish, a plus point of traveling solo is that you do not have to think twice about anything. Want to sleep in? Sure. Want to trek up the hill? Why not! You are the captain of your desires.
#5. No one sees it! :- This is my favorite one. I am always getting into trouble and hence the best part of solo travel for me is the satisfaction of knowing that there is no one around to keep track of my messes and narrate them to my friends and family once I get back. You have no idea just how important this is.
Companionship is great. No argument there. But once in a while travel with yourself.
Tags: Solo, Travel
[This is a rant.]
I think there is a new type of racism creeping upon the world and that is passport racism. Did you know that if I hold an Indian passport then in all probability a lot of trees will be cut before I am done gathering the documents needed for my visa submission? Well, you probably did.
Did you know that if I held a British or an American passport then I just pack my bags, pick up my passport and drive to the airport? I am pretty sure you didn’t stop to think of that!
I recently called up the Spanish embassy ( actually the VFS-Spain) to enquire about getting a visa to walk the Way of St. James. Here
is was my plan :
- Start walking early in the day.
- When the light fades or when I feel tired check in to the nearest alburgue
Here is what the guy on the other side of the line told me:
- If you hold an Indian passport then you need to show transportation and
—- wait for it……
For every single day that you are in the EU … oh and that’s not just it….
*Walking does not qualify as transportation for someone who holds an Indian passport!*
It’s no wonder that no one from India is urging students and young people to take a gap year and travel. The entire year may be spent in securing a visa and by the time they board the plane they will not exactly belong to the ‘Youth’ category.
Billions of blue blistering barnacles!
Tags: passport, Travel