A traveller without observations is like a bird without wings……
If travelling means taking a flight to arrive in a new country, then I started it at the age of ten. That is because I went for studies to India from Addis-Ababa for which I travelled each year to and fro ,to be with the family based in Ethiopia.
Later my father took us for a month long trip starting from Agra and ending in Shimla via Kashmir while I was still in college. And I told myself: Oh! This s travelling; where families take a trip to bond doing fun things.
But once I got married travel meant going to places mainly to chill. So I travelled with my spouse to Panchmani,Nainital , Dharamshala, Chambha Khajiyaar. We also did Bandhavgarh, Jim Corbet Park and Kanha as with the tigers for company, three does not become a crowd.
The definition of travelling then got a new dimension when I took an adventure trip in Himachal Pradesh to do river-rafting, rappling, Para-sailing and river crossing while sleeping in tents. The adventure bug later took me to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.
I am still searching for an apt term for the kind of travelling that happens when you are invited by family members for a free trip. hat is how I did Bangalore, Kabini, Darjeeling, Ooty, Kodaikanal and Gir Forests.
If Travelling means doing what is on every ‘gora’s itenary, then I did take the desert safari in Rajasthan and cycled down from world’s highest motorable road in Leh. Later I had followed the herd to Bolivia salt pans too that had turned out to be quite rewarding.
Do you think checking out luxury Spa resorts lying down [literally and figuratively] in Ananda, Moksha and Hilton Shillim Spa can be termed as ‘travelling’??? I have my serious doubts.
I am also not sure if taking my terminally ill mother for her last trip to Kerela can qualify as travel.
For some people travel means seeing the country as shown by your host when you go to visit them like I did in Dubai and Oman.For others it means getting value for money by taking Cosmos tour to visit Europe when you are in London for official work. Yes I did that too where I changed cities in a day like mother changes baby’s nappies.
If travelling means seeing places around the outlandish wedding destination that an uncle gets his wife from, then I have travelled to Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
But taking a tour [so that your mother get s ‘Ghar ka Khana’] which o cover many countries where you are running with a camera to get lovely pictures to boast about them later like I did in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. I call it click-n-nap travel as either one is clicking pictures or having cat naps in the coach.
If travelling means visiting the talked about tourist interest places so that you are not left out in a conversation when your fellow countrymen share their experiences vividly, then i did travel to Las Vegas, Holland and Mt.Titlis so that I could butt in, when elites had travel conversations.
If travelling meant visiting countries back to back as if they were going to get extinct, then I did binge travel too that took me to Hong Kong, Macau, Germany. Italy, Holland, Brussels, Canada, Austria, New Zealand, Australia and repeated tours to US, my all-time favourite country.
If travel means visiting off beat countries doing the quirky things that would earn you a label of a globe trotter , then I gained that title too by visiting countries like Luxemberg, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Malta, Rio and Amazon jungles from Iquitoes.
Today travelling means having that special experience which would broaden my horizons in the manner nothing else would. It means exploring the oneness that holds the people of this world together while assimilating the diversities. It means reflecting and redefining concepts and beliefs for a better world-view to cultivate a new mind-set. It also means discovering not only about places and food but also about cultures and mind-sets.That happens when you are not only seeing places, eating different cuisines and knowing the history but also interacting with locals and other fellow travellers from different parts of the world . That happens when you are the controller of your itinerary, time and who-you-want-to-be-with. Sometimes the best person you should be with is ‘you’. My growth as a traveller has been scintillating as a solo traveller. That is because I was completely free to observe and absorb things that have given me profound insights. Also backpacking led me to interact with the people of the world that changed my world view completely.
So friends in this series of columns, I will not only talk about the places, cuisines, and culture but also about the incidents that will give you a new insight and help you to, reflect and redefine concepts and beliefs to have a better world-view. So stay tuned…
Brief Introduction Darshana Doshi:
Darshana Doshi has been a freelance Journalist, Editor and a Travel writer. She has travelled over 35 countries and to go everywhere is on her list. She can be reached at https://www.darshanadoshi.com AND https://www.youtube.com/@dare15ful