Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Of places and people

'Traveling'. A word I was introduced to long before I could properly speak (I made my first trip when I was a toddler, and had a brother who still hadn't seen the light of the world at that time). I remember nothing about that trip; except that it was in Nainital, we went there with thousand other relatives who adored me and never let me down from their laps and that somehow I was made to believe that if I did not sleep, a certain 'Hirimba' would come down from those dark mountains and eat me or take me away with her! Till date, my relatives laugh about what effect that mere sentence used to have on me :D That was my first trip ever, with which I was introduced to a world I now consider a major part of my growing up. I have been to innumerable trips since then, having been blessed with a father who loved to travel and a mother who was equally enthusiastic. Somehow they made me believe that traveling is as essential as eating and sleeping, and that it should be counted as one of the basic requirements for survival. Maybe this is the reason why I have grown into a travel-fanatic (if at all there is such a word for people who love to travel to death) and consider this a major constituent of my happiness index!

I am sure there are million other people in the world who think like me on this particular aspect, maybe million times more passionate than me, people who have spent all their lives exploring places, knowing people, learning new things everyday and living a life I envy. But, that has not let me feel any less content with my own life and experiences. I have traveled extensively, covered many places in India, in a couple of neighbouring countries and in Europe. Some I don't remember anymore, some I remember partially, for some I remember certain incidents and for some I remember almost everything. However, even though I no longer remember details of all places I have traveled to, I can for sure remember which places had/have impressed me the most. Now when I look back, I realize that all these places had only one thing in common- they breathed!

I went to Rajasthan for the first time when I was a kid, a mere 8-9 years old. I remember nothing from that trip, which maybe was the sole reason why baba decided to take us to Rajasthan again ten years later. I fell in love with the place the moment I set foot in Jaipur, and the love hasn't reduced an inch since then. I loved everything about it, the super enthusiastic people who chewed paan (and spitted on the road :() all the time, the funny accents of the locals, the rustic touch that is so very unique, the rajasthani music that we often heard from our rooms, the hot sands that burned our feet in Jaisalmer, the frightening camel rides, the setting sun across the yellow sands, the thali that we gorged on each night, the lassi and home-made desserts and the warmth of the people. The place breathed, of colors and life.

While Rajasthan is an exception, my first love has always been the mountains and places that are in the mountains. So be it the Himalayas, and subsequently, places like Mussorie (ah, it was heaven), Kullu, Manali, Shimla, Shillong, Gangtok, Kalimpong, Darjeeling (another of my all time favorite places, very typical Bengali I think :P), Kedarnath-Badrinath (these two need a post of their own), some parts in Southern India somewhere around Kanyakumari, or in Nepal or Bhutan, like Pokhra and Kathmandu, or the Swiss Alps, in Interlaken and Geneva, or those small mountains adorning parts of central France, like in Annecy. While some of these places have carved a permanent place in my heart with their beauty, some have made me realize that I no longer need to see Paradise. Manali-Mussorie was one such. Annecy was one such. Interlaken was one such. Agreed, all these places had disappointed me with their ever-changing weather, all my plans of taking in their beauties in perfectly sunny/less windy/less cold (as applicable) weather were destroyed, thereby making me feel that mountains and myself can never be a happy couple. However, inspite of our constant disagreements, these places have made me fall in love with them. The reason for this blind love? Simply that paradise, even when wrapped in a blanket of fog, dark clouds, rain and gloominess, still remains a paradise. One just needs a different pair of eyes (and the right companions) to see and feel it. Once done, the small little cottages on the hills even on a gloomy afternoon are found to have a life of their own :)

However, what has impressed me beyond words from my most recent trips has been the hospitality and warmth the locals have embraced us with! Wikipedia gives you every little detail about a particular place, from itinerary to food to lodging to safety, to what not. However, it doesn't tell you about the people; people who despite language barriers, welcome you to their land with so much love and affection. Who says that the world is a selfish place and that there is no hope for humanity? While most of it is true, it is far from being the ultimate truth. Places do breathe; they smell too. They smell of happiness, of colors, and, of goodness of people. This realization I have brought back with myself, along with the innumerable memories and a hope that many more of such wonderful experiences await me :) 

**This post has been written for the I AM EXPLORER contest hosted by IndiBlogger**

No comments:

Post a Comment