Sunday, May 26, 2013

It's a beautiful world

I stuff my whole world into a backpack, and leave a lot of room in it to gather more of the world that's never been mine, but magically becomes mine the moment I set my feet on the land.

You know the stereotypical backpacker, the lone traveler.. the one you see in travel channels? I could never really identify with them. Yet, I've always had that itch for travel. To travel alone. It sounded exciting to me.

And then reality kicks in. If you don't think of it, people remind you of it. The constraints, that is. It starts off with A) You are a woman. B) You are so small and how fit are you physically anyway? C) It's a big bad world out there. D) Do you have any clue how much it costs?

Then of course, there are the practical constraints. Budgets, Information, Research about places, Travel itineraries, Hotel reviews, Reservations, Best deals, Best routes, Bookings, Preparedness for exigencies, Backups, Contingency plans. Stuff your travel channels don't tell you about. If they were to tell you about all this, you wouldn't be tuning into their show to unwind when you are back from work, do you? And there's also this sheer frustration and despair that really hits you on your face during the planning phase.

But as I am out crossing country borders, meeting interesting people, buying my breakfast with one currency and dinner with another, missing trains, silently thanking my back-up plans, making choices every 5 minutes, avoiding trouble, finding fun, questioning the soundness of some of the choices I make on my way and thanking my lucky stars for some others, I realize travel is not just about the places I go to, or the views I see, or even those amazing people I meet. These, unfortunately are the only part of my travel that I can share with others through pictures or stories.

The real fun is in the way I feel when I set out with a map and the very basic things I need (along with the very important things I need in a foreign country)..
The sweet anxiety when I set my feet in a new country unsure of what to expect in spite of all the research..
The way these places make me feel at home..
The way my mind quickly analyses situations and prepares my reflexes..
The 8 hours long walk-sprint-trek routines on most days..
The way I connect with different people..
The goodness of the world that is never acknowledged enough..

Most importantly, the kick I get out of just being alive. It thrills me and humbles me at the same time. And I feel grateful for being a small part of this amazing world. A small block in a huge jigsaw puzzle.