Remember that song “Born to be wild”?
It was a favorite in college. It does not beat around the bush. It comes straight to the point of why travel is so good
“Get your motor running”
“Head out on the highway”
“Looking for adventure”
“In whatever comes your way”
Blessed freedom. A complete break from humdrum routine. We never did it together as a family. We can watch National Geographic and drool over places, but venturing out in the wild is not something that couch travellers like us can do.
Not that I did not try. I had the boys too young and thenceforth experienced life as Mary who had a little lamb. Kids underfoot, with sensitive stomachs and tiny bladders ensured that I would see more of the insides of public loos and less of the great yonder. I tell you, I am scarred. Apart from the one trip to Mombassa and Nairobi where we saw giraffe and other sundry wild animals, went on safari and travelled cross country we’ve not done many such things. Its not for lack of trying.
Can you imagine Momma Bear saying “Kids let’s go climb that hill and see what’s beyond it”
Baby Bear 1 decides to outrace Momma and see it first
Baby Bear 2 decides to sit on the dirt track mid way and wail, “Baby tired. Feet hurt. Momma Godi”
Momma Bear is going insane because older baby is out of sight. She definitely does not want to carry Baby Bear 2 because she has a huge bag full of feeders, diapers, juice cartons and spare clothes along with soap and towels … you get the idea?
Cut to a few years later, when they could do their own business and not drag me into the loo with them to wash their bums. Feeling brave I broached the topic again,
“Boys lets go to Nainital or Katmandu.”
Son 1 “Does it have cable? Internet?”
“I don’t know.”
Son 1 looks at Momma as though she is committing sacrilege.
“You go. “
Momma resorts to threats, “I’ll take son 2.”
In the night Momma hears Son 1 telling Son 2 “There are big flying cockroaches there. We won’t get to see Dekh Bhai Dekh or X-Files.”
Son 2 says wide eyed at breakfast, “Will we have to eat raw food and go potty in a hole in the ground?”
Momma throws her hands up in defeat and asks, “Appu Ghar or Delhi Zoo?”
Kids roll their eyes and say, “Appu Ghar of course. The zoo just has animals and you’ll make us walk for miles.”
Let’s say adventure, travel and roughing it is not there in our genes. And we can’t be separated from our LCD screens.
Once I decided to go travel alone. I was depressed, suicidal and lonely. I needed a break. I opened the map of India and checked out. Pithoragarh seemed like a good place to go. 1. It has forts. 2. I love Rajasthani food. 3. Shopping. 4. I knew no one there.
I went alone, walked market places, ate over spiced food cooked in Desi ghee, bought quantities of bangles and mirror work stuff, sat on buses and watched the desert fly by. Cried copious amounts in solitary splendor in my hotel room. Experienced catharsis. Let me tell you, its over-rated. I’d rather not experience it again.
It was scary to go alone, but it was also liberating. I came back feeling very brave.
The sons, lets call them couch travellers, shall we? They welcomed me back with so much happiness that it was flattering. After I handed them their mithai and toys, they came and started quizzing me.
“What did you do?”
“I went and saw forts, visited mandis and sat on rickshaws.”
“Hmm” they said, clearly not impressed.
“I saw the desert.” I said valiantly struggling to wipe the bored blase expression off their ruddy faces.
“Must have gotten dirty, so much sand,” said Son 1.
“I saw a haunted fort,” I lied. ”A princess committed suicide there and her ghost haunts the place.”
Their eyes widened and they gasped. ”They show Haunted Houses on T.V.”
Yep. We are the T.V. and LCD screens folk.