Sunday, 31 May 2009

My Travels

It so happened in 2004 that I went crazy. No, not that crazy in the real sense. Nor did I go to any asylum. I had just started working and it occurred to me that there is more to life than just wakeup in the morning-brush-bath-breakfast-work-lunch-TV-Dinner and back to sleep- you know the kind of stuff we do almost throughout the year, in the name of living a life.

Well, the thought didn’t just occur to me out of nowhere, it was at the back of my mind for some time, but in 2004, it so happened that the company I was working for, decided to set a special target for the quarter. And incidentally, my team was the only one to achieve the target and we were awarded the incentive. It took another month to receive the incentive, but when we were finally credited with the same, we were way too much with surpluses in our bank account, that we decided to do something about it. It didn’t interest me much about my colleagues and their ways to dispose of the incentives, but I decided to do something which I had been longing to do for a long time.

Several thoughts occurred, like buying a new Royal Enfield Machismo, buying something for my parents etc, but I decided to wait. It wasn’t a small incentive; it was close to a Lakh in Rupees.

After pondering over several options, I thought of taking a short vacation and to set out for an aimless journey. Finally after much lobbying, I managed a ten days leave.

From my travel

I was super excited at the proposal of setting out to an unknown place, to a place where no one knows me and cares for me. I decided to keep it clandestine and went for not even letting my parents know about it. The only person I confided was my best friend, colleague cum girlfriend, Shalini and I knew she wouldn’t be really shocked at my proposal. She knew me too well to be shocked at anything I did, and agreed with me in accepting that it wasn’t a too bad an idea after all.

I could make out from her sad expression that she too wanted to join me, but refrained from inviting her. I wanted to make a journey in solitude and moreover, her parents would never agree to a ten day trip, without knowing the details of the intention. Such worries didn’t bother me, since my parents were used to my long absence.

I can go on and on about that trip but since I am writing for some readership, I am restricting it and mentioning only the highlights.

From my travel

  • I booked myself a second class sleeper berth, going against Shalini’s continual advice to go for at least a third AC, considering the Month of the year.(in may). I argued, I wanted a real feel of India and its heat and humidity.
From my travel

  • My journey started from Ernakulam Station(Kochi) as I boarder the Nizamuddin Express bound for Delhi. I decided to go to Delhi and start my journey-Our capital.
From my travel

  • I departed, noticing the sadness in the eyes of Shalini, as she stood at the Railway platform, waving at me as the train started its long journey.

  • The journey from Cochin to Kannur was the most boring of all, since I have been frequenting this route ever since I can remember.
  • Once past Mangalore, the Konkan coastline was a delight for my eyes. Infinite caves, long stirring coastlines, Forested sideways and unfamiliar people and their mores, fueled enough curiosity that I wanted so badly in my journey. Even the beggars who boarded the train and their style of begging appeared different than to the ones I was used to in Kerala.
  • Noticed before my curious eyes, everything from culture, language, clothing, and food change every 4-5 hours. Passed through Goa, Maharastra, Madya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Finally in Delhi. In between, so many people boarded the train, some feeding my inquisitiveness and some depressing me for their sheer state of poverty.
  • As soon as out of the Delhi station , I was barraged with aggressive taxi drivers and managed to settle for a harmless looking one, taking me to some hotel in the heart of the city. Experienced my first Delhi food in a shabby restaurant, not listening to the conditions set my Shalini to avoid water or anything that’s served without a label. The tandoori chicken that I polished off at one of the Dhabas was a cool hundred times better than the best restaurant I had been to, in my hometown of Kerala. Sampled parathas, esp. the Gobi paratha and many more assortments, than I can remember.
From my travel

  • Hired a Driver driven rent-a-car, and set out to see the place. Went set out for Raj Ghat, Teen moorthi Bhavan, Parliament, rashtrapathi bhavan, India Gate, Red fort, Kutub Minar, Bahai temple, jantar mantar. Saw all of them in a day, capturing many images onto my Jurassic era film camera.( I still like it over my 12 MP camera)
From my travel

  • My foodie self went wild over many delightful ventures, sampling many restaurants and street side chaat corners. I had a chaat at someplace near the cantonment Railway station and the taste still lingers in my mouth.
From my travel

  • After two days of fooling around in Delhi, boarded a bus for Agra. Checked into some shabby place for a hotel, set out for tajMehal, Fathehpur Sikhri, Agra fort etc. The food was again great, after 2 days in Northern India I was truly-madly-deeply in love with anything that can be called a food. And Agra was exceptionally good at providing sanctity to my Foodie self.
From my travel

From my travel

  • After another 2 days in Agra, it was adieu time and my next destination was decided- Varanasi. I can’t say why, probably I am close to attaining sainthood, banaras had always attracted my fascination.This time it was a train trip and after an overnight journey, I was in the holy city of Banaras. After a short rest, I was set to explore the best of banaras and set-out for the Ghats. Having reached the Ghats, it was the moment of ‘Solitude and soliloquy’ with myself , as the Ganga and the rituals surrounding the place appeared as if from some other world and civilization. I was enthralled and cleansed by a knee-down wash in the not-so-pure-anymore Ganges, and many stories from Mahabaratha (including parts from the TV serial) unfolded before my captivated eyes.
From my travel

  • From banaras, having cleansed my spirit, a visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. I was all charged up and roaring. Indeed I experienced a feeling of revival, not experienced by my educated but stupid spirit in a long long time. I was extremely glad and proud of myself that I had undertaken such a journey.
From my travel

  • After banaras, it was a short confusion as to finding the next destination and it was decided to head for Lucknow. Lucknow again was a fascinating place and it was selected mainly for the sense of nostalgia it was likely to impart me, since I spent my 3 years of schooling there.
From my travel

  • I wanted to go for Kolkata but having completed 6 days already, I was way short of time before making it back to Kerala.
  • The journey from Lucknow, back to Kerala was another fantastic journey in The Gorakhpur-Kochi Express , through Andra, Tamilnadu and finally back to Kerala.

I was finally back, after ten days of wrenching, but highly exciting journey, through the heart of the place I called motherland. Never before was I so much in love, than after my journey and I understood the true essence of being an Indian.
This journey was also a revisit to my childhood memories, my life as son of an Army Man. There are several images that’s imprinted permanently in my mind, when I think of those days. Men moving in faultless march past, their uniforms and guns distracting our juvenile minds and we gaping at our heroes in perfect revelation are what my mind reminds me of wistfully when I look back to my budding years.. I have warmhearted memories of my Father going for schemes, our family get-togethers and Badakhaana, the joyful times spent traveling in first class compartments, looking at another world through the train window, picture perfect at times.
I would certainly take another trip, another time, albeit with my family this time around. But the question is of the right hiatus. It would probably be during my next visit to India. Wait till I write about it in my blog.

Ciao all.

Image courtesy:Google(please click to enlarge)

P.S: Apologies for typos or grammatical errors, since i write very fast and have no time to recheck or edit. Would Appreciate if you bring those errors to my notice.


AnjuGandhi said...

long vacation indeed.and you managed to cover so many places in such a short time. from this post i gathered that you travelled alone? didnt you feel lonely?

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Anju: Of course i went all alone. But that was the beauty. I was in all ‘Solitude and soliloquy’ mood. Had fun, all alone.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Lovely vacation! But rather hectice, given the time-constraints! Being a Bengali, I will urge you not to miss Kolkata on your next visit.

Keshi said...

Im jealoud of ya! Thats a whole lot of great places! :)


Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

I have many weaknesses, but jealousy is not one of them. The only thing that makes me jealous is travel stories like this.

And there is nothing like starting off without a plan. Uncertainty adds charm to life. I hate cell phones because these wonderful machines have also made our lives so predictable, orderly, and boring. I guess you had undertaken this journey before the advent of mobile phones. Otherwise, you would have had little chance to enjoy solitude and soliloquy.

Your pictures are lovely too. Do keep writing and posting more pictures.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Suchitra: i am dying to visit Kolkata. I have this strange awe for anything bong. I guess they are very similar to mallus, not just in communist party, in culture and litrature and everything.Thanks


@Santanu:even me hate cell phones, but cant help but use one.i agree with you it makes life so predictable, orderly and boring. i switched off my mobile phone and checked on periodically. so i maintained my solitude and soliloquy.Thanks

The abstract scientist said...

I love it when people admire and relish India although this variety is far and few. I have been in allahabad,UP (4 yrs engg), Delhi( 6 yrs high school), tamil nadu(13 years) and London(2 yrs).I must tell you that we must pride in our country , because no where in the world could I see so much diversity. We Indians must become better travellers.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

AS: I agree with you. But we are so engrossed in making a life for us that, unlike in the west we take much less adventure travels or travel as such. Probably once we get richer, we might become better travelers.

Chriz said...

nice way to tell your travel story ...

i did my mba in cochin.. rajagiri..

when u started your travel from cochin, i travelled in my thoughts ack to my college days.. thanks for reminding me of those memories

Chriz said...

i was reading the beautiiful wife story.. egyptian mummy and all and she crying in the airport and poor cooking and stuff.. but suddenly the post disappeared :(

back to draft mode?