2nd May, Pune
It’s a year since I arrived at the third place I call home, which was also the first, with the usual stock of excitement and apprehension that accompanies a big location move. However, repatriation’s trepidation was drowned in the anticipation that accompanies the sound of anyplace new for a nomadic heart.
So how has this year been, travel wise? This is my little travel space, so here’s an ode to one year of travel in India.
[Just in case my ramblings sound like it’s not fun – let me clarify – it most definitely has been a lot of fun! India is fascinating, and there is so much more to learn everyday even after spending the first twenty+ years of my life here. Yes it’s not easy, but that does not make it any less fun, entertaining or educative. The thing that happens after a tiny spot of travel (no, I don’t claim to be well traveled) is the realization that we’re all connected and that we all live the same cycle of emotions but in different physical models. I know I can’t explain it very well right now, but someday I hope to be able to. This post is dedicated to my family – their unending support of my whimsical plans has been a delight; and of course B – my partner in life and travel crime!]
The ease of getting away
Three day long weekends aren’t quick travel getaways like they used to be. It takes much longer to get around, and returning on Monday mornings is no longer an option if I ever want to get to work on time, even half-alive. That’s precious hours knocked away from a weekend getaway.
India does not have an easy rent-a-car concept like the sprawling US. Nor is there a good public transport system within cities like Britain. When you land in a new place taxis are what you use to get to your hotel, and anywhere else. The lack of independence is sometimes stifling, and it’s taking a while to get used to the idea of others doing all the work for me! I need to cross the bridge to the other side of thinking – oh yeah, it’s awesome that others do the work for me!
Monuments and museums in India are hit or miss, it all depends on who maintains them. Udaipur’s City Palace is privately maintained and it glistens, while Kochi’s oldest European church (and Vasco de Gama’s first resting place), is an old dilapidated church. Which has almost transformed me from an inveterate city-sights girl into a beach-and-hills seeker. India’s outdoors are rugged with minimal facilities, charming compared to under-maintained city sights. Head outdoors is the secret in places that aren’t on the foreign tourist path.
The way we roll
Road trips are a riot, in more ways than one! The state of the roads are always anyone’s guess, and it takes you by surprise as it turns from a highway into a tiny village road and then back to a highway again. The villages are the best part of a roadtrip – I learnt to internalize the statistic that 2/3rds of India still lives in villages, and it made me appreciate the magnitude of issues that we are going to see as the great migration reaches its peak in the next twenty five years. And oh, carry toilet paper on a road trip if that’s your thing :)
Chow on the road
I haven’t had a chance to try local cuisines when we’ve traveled. For some weird reason, places that cater to travelers don’t serve a lot of local food, and it is quite an effort to find good local grub. That it’s happened three times in a row is an indication that it’s just not us picking the wrong places! Or at least, so we hope. We’ve survived on more omelettes and toasts in those three big trips than I’ve ever had at i-HOP in six months!
Quick food is usually not an option, which means sit-order-wait-eat more often than not. A process which bugs me when I travel. I’d love to have the option of a quick grab and go meal which isn’t deep fried or baked like most fast food is in India. I’m yet to figure this one out.
Erm, I want a whatchamacallit?!
Language has knocked the socks off my feet. I struggle in places I never thought I would. I long to speak Kannada at the oddest times, and at others I fear I’ll lose my touch over English. I wake up in vague language induced sweat in the middle of the night. Ok well, that’s an exaggeration. It’s making me a much stronger person linguistically; after all this is how it’s going to be in about 60% of the world, and I do need confidence for the deep south of France (or Italy) somewhere down the road ;)
Solo travel – my pet subject – is still under wraps. I almost tried it in Rajasthan, but there’s still a long way I need to go to be mentally prepared for this one. It’s not impossible; like anything else, it is a choice I have yet to make.
I timed my touchdown in India for B’s birthday last year. This year, we’re celebrating a couple of days early over an entire weekend (the first long weekend that we’ve decided not to travel but to stay in the coolest part of this region – our apartment!), and we raised a glass of lemonade to more adventures this next year. Here we come, Motherland!