And then, in the blink of an eye, the vacation is over and you are back to where you started. The first couple of weeks is when you are deeply philosophical, playing the vacation like a recorded video in your mind, smiling at the memories that you will more likely than not, relish for the rest of your life. All the missed trains, lost bags and muddled bookings will now become amusing (and fond) anecdotes that you will tell whoever makes the mistake of asking you about your vacation!
As I go through this phase right now, I also reflect on all the lessons that travelling has taught, and some of them the hard way :)
1. The journey is more beautiful than the destination:
As clichéd as it may sound, the journey is often more beautiful than the destination. We often traveled at night, just so that we could spend the entire day on something more fruitful, like exploring local cuisine or searching for that hidden treasure that no guide book speaks about. Our perspective changed, when we took the picturesque drive from Shimla to Manali along the river Beas, stopping every now and then, to admire the stunning landscape. The pristine blue river separating the road from the mountains and the snowy peaks that looked so within reach was our awakening.
2. We make wrong choices, but what’s wrong with that?
Well, taking a non-Malayalam speaking driver to Kerala heartland is faux pas. But then you have to make this mistake to learn. And rest assured you will find a way out of this minor inconvenience, either calling your malayali friend to translate over phone or serendipitously finding a local who speaks your language. We make wrong choices, more often than we want to, but will we dwell on those wrong choices or find our joys, is a choice we make!
3. The world is full of friendly and interesting people:
Whether it was the young student from Scotland who decided to take up an online certification from India, the auto driver who turned out to be our guide for the 3 days we spent in Jaipur or the security guard who went out of his way to overcome the language barrier and tell you about this wonderful place that you should not miss, the world is full of friendly and interesting people who you will hardly notice on your home ground.
4. Patience is a virtue:
How many times have you assumed that a distance of 200 kms translates to 4 hours of travel time and fretted because of the extra hour that you had to spend on the road only to be rewarded with a beautiful orange sunset over the desert horizon?
To be frank, it has happened to us more times than we care to count. As countless photographers swear, patience is a photographer's best friend; We have learnt that it is a traveler’s best friend too!
5. A dark cloud with a silver lining is a real thing, not a myth:
All dark clouds have silver linings. When we did not spot a tiger in Ranthambore, we did witness the rare sight of a spotted deer chewing on the calcium rich discarded antler of a Sambar deer, not to mention the thrill of a close encounter with a nilgai!
When we did not find the elusive sunset at Azhikkal ferry (that boasted of a km long granite walkway, at the end of which you are surrounded by the sea), we ended up finding a hinterland ferry that ferried locals from one island village to another. And spending a whole hour island hopping, talking to locals and watching the sunset from the ferry was just as blissful and exciting!
6. Always have a story to tell:
A missed/misplaced bag might seem an un-surmountable problem when you realise it 100 kms later, but once you have scaled impossible odds to retrieve it, it is an amusing tale that you will never tire of sharing with anyone who is willing to listen. Whether it was about how we outsmarted the unreasonable cab driver in Kochi or how we made a smart move that saved a couple of thousands on that hotel room, you always have a story to tell.
This is a guest post by Pradeep Roonwal, a constant dreamer, passionate traveler, avid reader, inconsistent writer, movie freak, yoga student and lastly an IT guy! When you don't find him preparing project plans or planning his next travels, you will probably find him deeply engrossed in a book, blissfully unaware of all the chaos around. His idea of a perfect getaway - A beach home with an exhaustive library and a bicycle.