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The real joy of going places

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Taking socialisation completely out of travelling in the guise of soul-searching is an extreme

Many a travelogue I read nowadays are about how the traveller went on a road less travelled or some off-the-track trek or to an unknown destination or simply into the wild. How no connectivity is what you need to reconnect with yourself! How leaving your watch and phone behind and going into the world of no check-ins and no updates would bring you solitude! These write-ups are laced with adjectives describing the geography of the region and filled with minute details of the author’s days in that remote place. And, ironically, they all end with a strange advice to travel, and tell no one. I beg to differ.

I belong to the Indian banking family, and thanks to the leave fare concession (LFC), I have a fair share of travelling experience. I am also a mother of three children in their twenties who belong to the #wanderlust generation. All my LFC tours have been to the most touristy places we could find at the given time. So Kaziranga may not be the place to find solitude but sighting a mother rhino-baby rhino pair is no less joyous. And I would have missed them if not for the Punjabi family screaming with excitement on spotting the pair from a kilometre away. Next to the Punjabi family was a group from Chennai in which all the women were clad in beautiful sarees. That is how I came to know of Mysore silk. My son says I can see and buy the same on the Internet but the Internet also has a picture of my husband standing next to Barack Obama in the White House. Does it feel real? No.

For me, people do not ruin the beauty of a place. Rest assured that water in the Nohkhalikai falls will not stop plunging if there are too many people around. In fact, being among so many happy people can automatically cheer you up. Also, they add to the beauty of the place by pointing out every possible angle and view from which it can be looked at.

Think of safety

The other thing about people and well-known destinations is the safety aspect. This one time my youngest son was headed to some no man’s land when en route he suffered an attack of renal colic. Only after four hours of excruciating pain and spending a hefty amount of money to travel 60 km could he finally get an intramuscular dose of diclofenac and thereby some relief. He described it to us as an experience of a lifetime. Well, gentleman, if a baby is not delivered at the end of it, I better not have such an experience. My point is that when the purpose of tourism is recreation, adventure cannot be synonymous with taking risks. While offbeat places may have their own perks, celebrating New Year’s-eve along with an unknown crowd on a Goa beach is pretty recreational and rewarding.

And why ‘tell no one’? It is how you come to know that the Gupta family had been to the same place last month and they can share the first-hand experience of dos and don’ts about the place. It is also how you meet the Sharmas during the trip. And to meet another Marwari family far from home, on a boat headed to the Havelock islands in the Bay of Bengal, is as pleasant and heart-warming as to look at a group of dolphins swimming in those very waters.

Of course, I am no one to dictate which way of travelling is better. Each person is unique and has her own perspective. For me, Pushkar is the place of the Brahma temple and the dargah of Moinuddin Chishti. For my son, it is the place for marijuana-smoking hippies. All I want to emphasise upon is the age-old adage of avoiding extremes. If updating everything on social media, from the picture of the sunrise, the scrambled eggs at breakfast and the quiet sea of the afternoon, to the locals dancing in the evening; if that is one extreme, then taking socialisation completely out of travelling in the guise of soul-searching is another extreme. The fun lies somewhere at the mid-point.

verma.geeta1163@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 7:12:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-real-joy-of-going-places/article22334963.ece

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