Monday, 2 April 2018

Making Happy Memories #SayYesToTheWorld


Holidays of yore meant packing everything from food, clothing, bedding, bathing stuff and what-nots because it involved traveling on the longest, slowest routes railways offered. Still, some of my happiest travel memories come from those interminably long train travels, covering 1500 km, countless small and big halts, two nights practically living, dining, sleeping, playing every imaginable indoor game, chatting up with total strangers, all in a princely area of roughly 7' x 6'. Of course you cannot forget those arghh-so-ghastly loo trips that you desperately tried to avoid!
Moving ahead with time, improved travel connectivity as well as standard of living, has made air travel the preferred means of travel, thank God for that!



Memorabilia of Happy Times

I have been pretty fortunate to travel quite a bit across the length and breadth of our vast country and a few countries outside India too. Every place I visit, I buy little trinkets, picture postcards, souvenirs of monuments of fame to carry home as gifts for loved ones. But I do something different for myself. I collect a pebble from every new place I visit as a souvenir. The look and feel of each of these little nuggets is a reminder of the happy times and smiles that the new place gave me.



Flavors of India

From my family's favorite holiday destination, Goa to my dream holiday to paradise on earth, Kashmir, then rangeelo Rajasthan, to exotic Coorg, to God's own country Kerala, I have several memories made in Incredible India. Every place we've traveled to has made its way into our hearts and minds through new relations with new people, new flavors, cultures and experiences besides the new sights and scenes. 
The helpful taxi driver in Coorg who helped us get back to our hotel safely when an unexpected strike brought the entire area to a standstill, the diligent local fisherman who warned us not to venture into a dubious street in Kochi in search of authentic experiences, the darling old woman in Lonavala selling piping hot corn cobs and raw mangoes insisting on making a fresh batch for free when the one we'd purchased from her fell down,....these are some moments that stay etched in my mind because they reinforce my faith in the inherent goodness of our fellow humans that makes them reach out to total strangers

International Trysts

I am pretty proud of the fact that I can call myself a world traveller! My first international trip saw me unraveling the beauty, colors and uniqueness of South East Asia with cultures and flavors so different from my own and yet that drew me inexorably towards it. I found unbelievable diversity in the beautiful city of Singapore, the perfect melting-pot of so many different cultures. Thailand blew me away with its fascinating food and myriad shopping avenues. 
Perceptions and prejudices you hold onto without knowing why, are fragmented into nothing when you see something incredibly beautiful. 



One such experience was the famed Alcazar cabaret show at Pattaya. As we came back to our travel coach after watching the scintillating music and dance extravaganza by mind-blowingly beautiful performers in ostentatious sets and costumes, our tour guide informed us that the show performance comprised entirely of lady-boys! I don't think I would have ventured for such a show had I known this fact earlier - call it rigid mental make-up or whatever, but after I'd seen the spectacular show, my old prejudiced views crumbled away into nothing
In Malaysia after our exhausting up-down climb to the amazing Batu caves we were pleasantly surprised to be indulged with piping hot filter coffee and crispy dosas at a tiny restaurant run by a Srilankan with Bangladeshi waiters. Perfect Harmony in Diversity! 

Group travel teaches you to be patient, remain polite and jovial with total strangers, even ones who hassle you to the point of boredom with their stories or make you grit your teeth in frustration with their perpetual delays! 

But best of all, you are grateful to the new connections and bonds you forge
Like I did when I had to leave my kids for practically half a day in the care of the group of folks we were traveling with to hunt for my lost bag in Singapore

Thinking of my Australian holiday makes me yearn for the beautiful, laid-back locales and the breezy fun-loving Ozzies! The two day Great Ocean Road Drive with our jolly guide-cum-driver-cum-chef, Stan, was an unforgettable experience! We were the only vegetarians and the only ones traveling with kids on the tour. Stan subtly ensured that the tour went at a speed the kids could cope up with. Once he realized we were vegetarians, he laid out mushrooms and other veggies for us on the barbecue rack before he tossed on the meat. A simple enough gesture made with his trademark cheerful grin, yet one that felt so personal and caring.
A dream vacation to Spain brought alive my love for the exotic and the historical. On our trip to enchanting Segoviawe had this no-nonsense tour guide Ms Julia who went about mechanically firing away histories and stories of various monuments alternating between a highly accented English and rapid Spanish, wherein you barely discerned which was which. But thankfully, we were fortunate to find ourselves in the company of an American couple who were on their second trip to the place. They chuckled at Ms Julia's explanations and our blank looks and went on to tell us all they knew of the local history. Now, isn't that the sweetest?

Traveling to me is synonymous with freedom 

Getting out of routine life, forgetting the pressures of work, it is a time for exploration, to soak up new sights, smells and experiences. 

The prospect of finding new friends and reaching out to total strangers

Travel makes me lose my inhibitions, making me more open-minded, less judgmental. 

It makes me want to seek out information, venture out of my comfort zone and embrace discomfort and sudden changes with equal alacrity simply because it is an experience I don't want to miss!

Travel is a time to delight in the anticipation of the expected and the thrill of the unexpected

Not all my travel stories have been positive though! Some sticky situations, some goof-ups, slips and falls have been a part of it too! Like falling sick in Rome after eating some strange new pasta, losing my camera in Kashmir, missing the tour bus in Florence…! But each of these instances taught me an important life lesson, expect the best of times but prepare for the worst too!
Travel makes you view the world in a different light. The frog in the well needs to come out and see that the real world is totally different from the constricted surroundings it lives in!


You realize that despite the cultural, social, economic, geographical differences, despite language barriers, people can reach out to each other on a human level. This great leveler is the big T – Travel!


When I see the man-made majesty in the form of mighty temples of south India, the history behind the Roman Coliseum, the intricacy of art at the Sistine chapel or natural awe-inspiring visages of the roaring Ganges, the impregnable Himalayas, the amazing Twelve Apostles…I realize how vast the world we live in is!


My holiday starts right from the time I start planning for it, running through the excitement and anticipation and after I am done with the travel, I tide over the times I am not traveling by dipping into the happy memories of past travels and planning for the next set of memorable times!

I firmly endorse the feeling of #SayYesToTheWorld, the more you travel, the more you see the world, the more your perspective broadens!






This post is an entry to the #BloggerContest #SayYesToTheWorld by Lufthansa in collaboration with Indiblogger.



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