As I start typing away, my mind wanders, was ‘Travel or lack of it in time of Covid19’ a better title? But then I go ahead and keep typing. I hardly write anything these days, I hardly travel too!
Growing up in a small town, Gorakhpur, UP in the 1970s and the 80s travel was not on my horizon. My father worked for the Indian Railways but we didn’t travel much. In those days eating out was not common, there was no five star hotel in my town and I hardly knew any friend who ever took a flight! Gorakhpur is an Airforce base so I saw a lot of fighter planes flying overhead and that was all.
Or the stories my father brought back home, he did take a few flights, visited five star hotels and other countries but all for work. My eyes would widen listening to those tales, of the grand lobbies, the interiors of a plane, the expensive food in fancy hotels and lands far away.
Growing up I never dreamed of travel. I never thought I would enter a plane or visit a fancy hotel. But life had other plans and a lot of it happened because of this blog. Though I went abroad initially for academic conferences and work but it was blogging that changed my world!
I started blogging in 2005 with zero expectations. And slowly things changed. I started getting invited to places, a fancy restaurant, a five star hotel, and eventually on foreign trips! A trip to South Africa happened in May 2013 and I was like beyond amazed. I had already been to Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia as a blogger before that!
Then there were years when I did 6-7 trips abroad. Flying, staying in fancy places became the norm for me, particularly on all my blogging trips.
I will be honest, when I first started going to those places I was in awe, I also had this feeling that I didn’t belong. After all I was this small town 70s child, for whom travel was not even a dream! But after some time, I got used to them, in a good way. I also realized that being a decent human being was enough to belong, almost everywhere.
I became so confident that I took my daughter and niece abroad on a vacation for the first time when they were 7 and 9 and it was just the three of us!
So, I had no inkling that Vietnam (blogging trip in 2019) was going to be my last new country till date! If someone would have said it to me then, I would give them a rotten stare and go on clicking those million pictures I take!
My previous passport had to be renewed three years before its expiry date because I simply ran out of pages! This woman from Gorakhpur was going places and it was never even on her agenda explicitly! I was dragging my sister Alka out on some vacations too. Little did I know that my Sri Lanka trip (January 2020) would be my last international trip for so many years. I visited Sri Lanka first in 2014 so it was not a new destination for me.
The year 2021 was marginally better, I did two domestic trips, one to Sariska and the other to Ladakh. I have low expectations from 2022. Come mid January and my whole family went down with Covid, the Omicron version, which I have to say was not the horror that Delta must have been. We all have recovered and back on our feet for which we are truly thankful.
But whenever travel opens up next, and it feels like a safe bet, I am waiting for it. For I didn’t know when, but travel became the dream of my life!