Journeys are something that I often look forward to. I am not a traveller per se but on the rare occasions that I do travel, I really enjoy the experience and look forward in anticipation. I especially love traveling long distance by car or by train. Some people travel to exotic locations to unwind but for me the journey itself is a process of unwinding. As the date of travel approaches, I’m usually tingling with anticipation which is heightened on the day of travel. For me the anticipation itself is an exhilarating experience. It might sound silly but the moment I set foot in the compartment of a train, there is an adrenaline rush. It is an adventure in itself because I know where I’m going but I know not what the journey might entail.
As a kid, my annual vacations by default used to be to my native Kerala to visit my grandparents. I used to travel with my family in the Kanyakumari express which involved a total travel time of around 40 hours or so if the train was on schedule. The travel time further extended if there were delays on the way. The adults would complain about the travel time and since we travelled during summers, the heat used to be unbearable. But I would be oblivious to all that. Perched comfortably at a window seat, I would watch in fascination as the train hurtled through quaint little towns and villages. I would see people going about their daily lives, doing mundane chores, would see children playing in vast open fields and would lament the lack of open spaces in the place where I lived in Mumbai.
The scenery at night was sometimes terrifying. Empty spaces, not a single soul in sight and for some obnoxious reason I used to be filled with dread as to what would happen if I were to find myself all alone in no-man’s land. My parents would be busy either interacting with other fellow passengers or engaged in a game of cards. Soon it would be time for dinner and then retiring for the night….the best part. Sleeping on an upper birth was something of a novelty. It used to be a nice experience, falling asleep while the train rocked on its way to the destination. Traveling to Kerala was secondary, for me it was the journey that I sought. So much that, when our annual trips became less frequent after my grandparents passed away, I would still make it a point to embark on that trip just to experience the journey.
As I grew up and started traveling on my own, I no longer used stare out of the windows and see the cities rushing by. But, at this juncture I used to be either listening to some good music or would be unwinding with a cup of tea and a good book. But as I started traveling alone, I found that it had its own drawbacks. As a kid I was usually left alone but as an adult, it was quite irritating when people tried to strike up a conversation. I am a hard-core introvert by nature and have this huge defensive wall built around me. People could only get through if I wanted them to and believe me, such occasions were very rare. So, it was exasperating when a person in the opposite seat tried to engage me in a small talk. In such situations I would only respond in monosyllables and the other person eventually realized that I was not interested in small talk. There has been an instance when a guy started ridiculing me that I was hooked to my Disc-man (yeah, sounds cumbersome now) and would not talk.
Anyway, I have travelled extensively by road in the northern region of India, mostly to Punjab. Punjab is another place that I have seen apart from Kerala which has a lush green cover. Driving through the roads in Punjab is actually a rejuvenating experience because as far as your eyes can see, you only see green. However, travelling inside the city might present a different picture altogether….another concrete jungle with narrow lanes and congested roads. Traveling by road to Mussoorie in Uttarakhand from Delhi was a journey worth remembering. The journey becomes really picturesque when you commence the climb to reach the top of the hill station. The opulent valley of green is like a heaven on earth and nestled between them would be tiny houses with little brooks and streams running adjacently. The beauty of traveling long distance by car is that you are your own master. You are at liberty to pause and take a break in the journey whenever you feel like or if you are too tired to drive.
So, what is your take? Do you, like me, travel for the journey or are you more of a destination person? Does a forthcoming journey fill you with dread or do you actually look forward to it? Would love to hear your thoughts!
– Guest Blogger Sachit Pillai