Thursday, July 12, 2012

I must! And I will! Travel.

The good life.. coffee, beach, serenity!
(Juara Beach, Pulao Tioman, Malaysia)

I’ve been on my dream (well, almost!) vacation since the past two months (well, again, almost!). I quit my job of five and a half years to take time out and travel. I took the plunge and I haven’t looked back ever since. And it’s been every bit as fabulous as I thought it would be, and sometimes in the most unexpected of fashions.

A few years back, when I was drifting a bit at my job, my editor had asked me “What do you really want to do?” I thought for a micro-second, and answered: Travel and get paid for it! His answer: I want to lie on a chair in Hawaii and smoke a cigar. When you have something more serious in mind, let me know.

I never went back with a “serious” answer.

Around three years later, when the plunge towards self-discovery has been taken, a few wonderful trips made, and “serious” thought to my ultimate goal in life paid, I finally have a serious answer: Travel and get paid for it! I kid you not. 

The end of the world? It did seem like it! (South China Sea)

I realize that I am not the only one with this dream. In fact, over night-long drinking sessions, coffee meets and telephone conversations this very same sentiment has been voiced countless numbers of times by too many people that it may form a sizeable chunk of the employed and even a part of the unemployed populace. But the difference between them and me is that I now know that THIS is IT! My life’s goal. It’s not a whimsical wish. Not a dream. Not an item on my bucket list. Travelling is what I was born to do. I don’t care how I travel, where I travel, when I travel, with whom I travel... as long as I am travelling. Well, don’t get me wrong... travelling does not mean continuously be on the road...I like a relaxing sojourn every now and then and DO NOT want to be zipping across the globe without experiencing anything at all (my recent trip to Malaysia made me realize that this, too, is possible! But more of that in another post.).

I know I must visit new places. I must meet a lot of different people. I must be constantly amazed. I must walk around
The coffee lady who taught me how to
make this beautiful paper star!
(Milan, Italy)
ruins and imagine the most fantastical stories that happened there and people who must have lived there aeons ago and then drift off into thinking I was one of them. I must change my mind in the middle of a trip and end up at a place I hadn’t even heard about. I must savour each and every delectable taste that this world of mine has to offer. I must know the history of these fabulous places not by reading about them or drooling over pictures others have taken, but by sitting and listening—fascinated, open-mouthed, and wide-eyed—to a person who was a stranger just 10 minutes ago right there on ground zero! I must bombard random people with my questions, sometimes with the danger of getting thrown out (more of that later, again!). 

Falling in love with a roving musician? (Venice)

I must fall in love over a riverbank or the edge of our books. I must have my heart broken when I leave, only to smile again because of that guy in the next table at the café the very next day. I must live in the moment and breathe in all the air at all the places in this world, dig my bare feet into the wet sand as the water splashes against my entire body and the waves pull me towards the vast ocean. I must relish in that panic when
Spin on a bull's testicles for good luck! (Milan)
I’m just about to give in to my urges to let go and sink, especially when I don’t know how to swim, or hang over the edge of the mountain, and slightly make a tilt in favour of gravity, when I know not how to fly...well, physically, at least. I must be alive when I know that every atom in my body is dancing to the rhythm of the world that is not just the one around me, but the core that moves this entity we call the universe. I must make friends with the stars (the celestial kind!). I must break into a dance when I feel the rhythm that just makes me want to dance (okay, so I do that already. But not always! I swear!). I must see, live, experience, everyone and everything and everywhere! I must. And I will!

I know it! I don’t know how. But I know it!

Days when working in a cargo ship and travelling across the seven seas was an economic option are not around anymore. I know. I checked. A year back, desperate to do anything to set sail, quite literally, I checked with some cargo ship companies, and turned out, if I wanted to travel with them, a trip from a Mumbai port to an African port would cost me more than INR 12 lakh! And this was over and beyond the work I was expected to do on deck! Oh, how I ached for simpler and wallet-friendlier times.

Among other, more sane options, get a corporate job that pays a LOT of money; invent a muggle-version of the floo network; become the secretary of some super high-falutin’ CEO; do super yoga and perfect out-of-body travelling; get married to uber rich guy; fall in love with a wandering musician has also been suggested!; become a flight attendant; turn back time, not bunk classes, study real hard, become smart, do research and go to conferences; better yet, invent time machine!; transmogrify into an aeroplane; ooooh, become pilot and fly planes!; swap places with S’ dad; kill only friend who is living this dream, get full-body plastic surgery and take over her life! *evil genius laughter in the background, accompanied with thunder and lightning

It's okay to stand alone when you know why you're where you are! (Milan)

There is the more obvious option of travel writing. Yes, for all those who’re thinking, finally she’s come down to it, well, I can say one thing: it ain’t easy! No, ironically it’s not that there isn’t enough work. Surprisingly, there is a lot of work. Alas, the past month and a half has made me realize that I have no discipline. Ahem! Yes, I’m admitting to it! I haven’t been able to sit ONE day to write out ONE piece about the places I’ve been to. Just because I have had no one to crack the whip on me. Sad. Very sad. But there it is. I can churn out a piece in 20 mins once the panic button’s been hit, but tell me to work at my own pace, and there will be no work at all!

Anyways, many deliberations and debates and furious conversations with myself later, I have not, yet, hit upon an answer. But as I said, I will travel. I will make it work for me. I might not know how, but I will figure it out!

Wish me luck! I’m going to make my dream happen! I’ll leave inter-galactic travelling for the next life, for now, or, maybe not! :-)

Endless possibilities. (Photo courtesy: Sharmistha Deb)


  1. This is an amazing piece of writing ! and oh! My an awesome Emotion , I could feel the enthusiasm in your blood flow into mine with every line!

  2. Superb piece! You managed to write this in time na? Anywhoo, keep at it dearie. Thou wast made to travel the world! I swear! :)

    1. Thanks Pandey! tumharey moonh mein galawati kebabs and ice-creams! ;-)

  3. Thanks so much Aakanksha! Now, as long as the enthusiasm translates into action, I should be a happy camper! :-)

  4. first of all, if u figure out a way to get started with inter-galactic travelling in this lifetime, I'm callilng dibs on the pillion seat!

    second of all, too bad the very hippy idea of waiting tables to pay for ur travelling doesn't work. not even in goa.

    third of all, I know what u mean about not having discipline...

    fourth of all, if your giving out galawati kebabs and ice cream, i'd like some please... will also settle for bakarkhani from Karim's

    1. first of all, someone else already called shotgun for pillion seat! :-P

      second and third of all, i knowwww :-(

      fourth of all, i didn't say i'm giving out, i'm just wishing them to you! :-P

  5. nice post Shruti, and best of luck indeed ! ... I have one more option for you, become a student in Europe, go study and travel, its a beautiful place ... and you can almost travel the whole of Europe really cheap, then take up a job in another continent .. let it pay your bills for a while ... and take off to another continent again ....

  6. You write so well, Shruti. I could read your posts multiple times and still want to read them again. And its wonderful that you are fulfilling your life's goal, kudos! :)

    1. Thanks, Priya! I couldn't have asked for a more encouraging compliment than having you say you can read my pieces multiple times! :-)
      And I've just about identified my life's goal, still have to set about figuring out how to fulfill it! :-)

  7. Am sore with you, and how, Shruti. Such a delicious piece of writing and I didn't know till now?

  8. Am sore with you, and how, Shruti! Such a delicious piece of writing and I didn't know of it?

    1. :-) Thank you Harjeet ma'am! For your support and so much more!!! :-D