Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Oh! Darling.. #SayYesToTheWorld

Me: Mum, he doesn't buy me any presents.
Mum: He is showing you the world, what else can you ask for?
Me: Hmm! Indian mother-in-law.

Did she read Alice in Wonderland though?

To be frank, I did not love the world. I was afraid of unknown places, people from different races, losing my belongings, getting robbed, feeling extremely anxious before taking flights,  - yes, paranoid to be exact. I lived in one city for 26 years of my life, travelled only to the hill station next door and went to nani's house once every couple of years. Living out of a suitcase? - never did, never thought I ever would.

And then I married him. When I said 'I do', I didn't realise I was saying yes to a life full of adventures. He did not promise me the world, yet he took me everywhere. Without even realising I fell in love again, only this time it was with the world and the man who was my partner in all my journeys.

Our first trip outside Asia was into Switzerland. Apart from breath-taking Alps, I witnessed a life changing phenomenon. A couple in their seventies lived in the room next to ours. One look at them and I thought how cool is their retired life. They have come here to sit back, relax and soak in the nature.

The next day we met them on a hiking trail in their crisp white pants walking briskly past us. The lady climbed the hills like a swift animal and had the brightest radiance on her skin. Sit back and relax? - the Gen X oldies were fitter than their younger counterparts!

After I came back, I made sure I exercised every single day. I had found my deepest travel inspiration – I wanted to be strong and fit even when I was seventy so that I could be like them. 

Every year when we took that annual holiday, I saw more of them. I saw them walk past me because they were sturdier. In Greece, I saw a bunch of women in their seventies riding the toy train and laughing uncontrollably – I sent the 2050 plan to my gal pals. I saw them relishing the beauty of nature much more than me because they were wiser. Frankly, each one of them influenced me. I came back after every holiday stronger in my resolute to stay fit and travel the world as I grew older.

But that is not all that the last 25 countries have taught me.

I was on a train once, crossing a city in central Europe. We were late to board and there were hardly any seats available. I walked from cabin to cabin only to find one vacant seat next to a girl who was probably twenty years old. I asked her if I could sit - she refused rather rudely.

I felt racially discriminated. If that was not enough, she gave the seat to another white girl just fifteen minutes later in the ride! On deeper thought I remembered how we differentiate between fair and dark-skinned people in our own country. We have always been critical of racism towards us even though we are inherently racist ourselves.

Honestly, I was one of them. I liked anyone with a fair skin (except that girl on the train!) and was vary of those who were not of my favourite colour. I was shallow and I knew it. I blamed it on my upbringing, but I realised that after a certain age, it was up to me to change my views. I felt ashamed that even though I was well-read, wise for my age, and more sensitive than most of the people around me, I treated people differently – at least in my head.

All that changed after my trip to the Caribbean islands. On my visit to Jamaica I felt that African-American community was the sweetest in the world. I have never felt so welcomed in any country like how I did in the land of Bob Marley. They were kind, sweet and so helpful. I loved their enthusiasm in life and how they talked. I tried to imitate them, walk like them, basically be cool like them! If you want to learn how to live your life – those are the people you should look up to.

Honest confession – I even had a tiny crush on a guide for like an hour! I was surprised at myself for feeling that way. I was even relieved that now I was where I wanted to be. I wish that girl on the train travelled the world so she could see the beauty in its people. I love the world for making me the person I have become. I owe it big time!

I also owe my confidence to this sweet world. One day I was Googl'ing my way into the world when I got a ping. It was from a person I barely spoke to but was connected on social media. To my surprise she asked me details about a destination I had been to a few months back.

I asked her about her preferences and helped her make a detailed itinerary for the same country. She was the first of many more who got in touch with me later...

You see, I am a housewife. People of the world look down upon the likes of me. Having no kids doesn't make the picture look any prettier. Travelling changed that for me. Since the husband's only contribution to our travels is his awesome wit and a half-loaded credit card, I know my places to the T. I choose our destinations, book our tickets, reserve hotels, make itineraries, pack our bags, be a pain in the back-side when we are on a vacation, etc.

That gives me an edge over other women who book through travel agents or leave everything to the man of the house. I don't know why I started it, but I post detailed albums on social networking sites. I do it as a hobby, but you won't believe the kind of confidence people around me have shown in my abilities as a pseudo travel agent.

A few chats with my free-loader clients a.k.a friends/cousins

After posting a few albums, I started getting messages from people I barely spoke to for help regarding their travel plans. I helped a cousin plan his entire Europe trip, I assisted a new mom in deciding a relaxed vacation with her three children, I managed to find a fun birthday celebrations venue for a group of friends... the list is endless. 

Imagine my happiness when someone told me that before planning a vacation they look at my albums for help. There are times when I have to turn down requests because I have not been to a particular location! I tell them I haven't been everywhere, but it is on my list!

Do I love the world now? YESSSSS!!! It has given me everything I never thought I wanted yet it was everything I ever needed. Life is all about happiness, oozing with confidence, being loving towards one another, staying healthy - travel has given me all that and so much more.

Travel has given me dreams. I stay healthy for those dreams. I save every penny I can to fulfill those dreams. I tell everyone around me - divide your earnings in three parts - one, for necessities; two, save as much as you can for old age; then use the rest to travel beyond your city. There is no better gift you can give yourself.

Needless to say, I can't believe I agree with my mom. He did give me the best gift. And the adventure continues..

1 comment:

  1. Aah, a lovely piece by a beautiful person :* :*


Your sweetness makes my day. Gentle criticism will be taken in the right spirit too :)