Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Of Autumn, Shiuli and Durga.





Dusk sets in early. 
Conch shells in the background. 
New season tugs in.

Her big kohled eyes. 
Shiuli adorns the neck.
Durga is in me.

She is the power.
Hymns invoking Her presence.
She and I are one.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Solo travel and a bagful of emotions

This post has been chosen as Blogadda's Tangy Tuesday pick! :-) 


 ‘One week!? What are you going to do alone for 1 week?’
‘Why didn’t you ask any of your friends to accompany you?’

These and many such questions were thrown at me as soon as everyone got to know about my first solo trip. Honestly, I was more amused than irritated with this volley of questions.

Those who know me know that I am usually very happy within myself. I mostly keep myself entertained with incessant blabbering and louder-than-humming singing. Almost all the weekends I take off in Delhi to be with myself. I eat, listen to music, look around, hear people talk, read a book, savour coffee and come back home at night. So, I am pretty used to spending time with myself. However, seven days in a new place with no one to talk to, now that was new. I knew I would sail through yet there was this unknown barrage of emotions going inside me. And what’s amazing is the progression these emotions went through over a period of seven days on an imaginery EQ scale!

The trip started with anxiety. I was not scared but anxious. Of what? Frankly not so much for the stay and everything in between. But traveling alone in Volvo from Delhi. There were questions swimming in my head about the co-passengers, on what if I am the only one in the bus (silly but hey it was my first trip!), on what if I can’t control my even otherwise uncontrollable bladder for the long journey. But when I entered the bus I remember I smiled really ear to ear. Because it was full of families, kids, group of friends, couples and all of them beaming with noise. I liked that. And I contently took my window seat. J

Next was this feeling of panic. How will I control my motion sickness, what if I feel the need to puke, who will take care of me and all that. I forgot to take the motion sickness tablet in time. Took it long after the bus had started on the altitude mainly because it was dead in the night and I realized it only when I woke up feeling quite eeky. Once I took it I felt better. I kept closing my eyes, tried to catch sleep so as to not focus on the movements of the bus. This way I missed great views outside many a times but it was the only way I knew to handle it. But yes, at eight o’clock next morning, I reached Manali without a hitch! J

Once there, first it all started sinking in that I was no longer in Delhi, that there were no office calls to be taken, that I could do whatever I wished to, that I am not answerable to anyone at least for this one week, that feeling of not knowing what to do next day. This feeling of nothingness was a first for me for I am quite used to loading myself with unnecessary emotional baggage. But this? This was a breath of fresh air. Waking up at my time, reading till late, going for long walks, setting the day’s agenda as I desired was so cool beyond words. It was like I was free of all the garbage of feeling I had been holding on to.

On my home stay lady’s suggestion, I set out for Rohtang. Little knowing the altitude or anything of the place. The trip started good and all through it was like picture postcard slideshow. Every frame was so gorgeous that you needed to have your eyes and cameras open. Me? I just kept swallowing orange candies to not feel the motion sickness because the altitude was the highest I have ever been to. But once I reached Rohtang, it was like a world I had never seen before. Snow and so much of it. I was on my own, roamed about, took a mountain bike ride, chatted with the bike driver, ate hot maggi, feasted my eyes on the all white snowy envelope and there, I had this amazing feeling that I did it. I braved the motion sickness and traveled alone to witness this gorgeous sight.  This feeling of freedom was my first taste of real freedom and now I know what travel does to you. It sets you free.

On the return journey, again I was just being too cautious of the motion sickness and kept having the candies to keep myself busy.  Somewhere past midnight, the bus reached the plains. I was kind of up, listening to an A. R. Rehman number on repeat. And right then, the moment I opened my eyes widely and looked out and saw the plains, I felt my eyes moist. A couple of tears might also have fallen down. I choked too. It was like I felt I had finally accomplished this small little feat of traveling solo first time, overcame the altitude sickness, explored a new place, met amazing people, had great food,  marveled at breathtaking views and kept myself good company. This feeling of accomplishment was something I have had after a long long time. A feeling that no academic, professional or personal success had ever brought me.

So this was me. Tell me, have you too gone through these? Or was I the only one? What was your baggage like? J