“Travel, just leave, go anywhere, that’s the only way to forget all this”
That was a fine piece of advice from a friend at a time when I was utterly depressed by the nothingness and pointlessness of life.
You see I was living alone for some time as my parents had gone out of town to visit my sister. Having the house to myself and at least a dozen young and wild friends, I imagined one of these days my home was going to become nothing less than a chosen venue for a rave party, whatever that is supposed to mean. But nothing like that happened. Not even my boyfriends / dates (whatever they are supposed to mean) could make it to my place. Finally I got tired of waiting for something to happen and decided to go out and make things happen.
My three most favorite activities in the world are to travel, write and photograph.
Traveling – such a splendid experience. The roads are the greatest places to learn they say. Indeed, eminent poets and authors all over the world in innumerable languages have expressed how ‘travel’ has been one of the most enriching experiences of their lives. St Augustine said,
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
My heart yearns for the roads and for adventure. When I am on the roads I feel free and happy, I don’t care what is missing from my life. I also think that single people like me should always be on the move. They should never be still.
I am a traveler of the true spirit. Not the luxurious fussy types, but the real nomadic backpacker type who is ready to go beyond the unknown and is not afraid to take the roads without destinations.
Except that, I am a woman and I think my gender comes in the way of taking up traveling as a coming of age, soul searching experience. In fact when I hear the traveling stories of my male friends, about their biking expedition to Leh or their journey on the highway along with the truckers, I feel jealous and almost wish I was a man.
I have this friend who is crazy about roads and often spends months after months on the road traveling alone. He usually doesn’t have a proper travel plan, rarely plans his transportation or accommodation. Then he comes back with fascinating stories of how he spent his night at a tiny hut on the river bank with a mystic sadhu or how he met a nice old couple on the way and stayed at their guest house.
“I am so jealous of you,” I would often tell him. “This is why I wish I was a man; I mean I can’t imagine traveling that way? I would be robbed, raped and killed before anything else.” I would go crib.
But he isn’t the type to give a kind shoulder to my crib. “Don’t be silly, you’ve never tried it. Have you? I’ve seen plenty of women travelers on the roads,” He would say.
For many years this has been a repetitive conversation at the end of which he would always conclude that I just don’t have it in me. “Someday I will do it,” I would say and he would reply, “Why someday, why not now?”
So the ‘now’ has come.
The timing is perfect, parents are still away, they are not back before the 12th of October and in this festive season no body is in the mood to work, so Samyukta Media activities wouldn’t be affected much.
I have chosen, at random, Champawat as my first destination. It’s the easternmost district of the state Uttrakhand which shares border with Nepal. It is also the only district in the Kumaon and Gharwal region about which I have never heard before. The only glamour factor about Champawat is that the first chapter of the book ‘Man Eaters of Kumaon‘ by Jim Corbett was about Champawat.
I will be doing this project in phases for months to come and to different parts of India, starting with Champawat this weekend. At the moment I am funding myself, but as and when I scale up this project I would be in search of a sponsor.