Travel Telltales 

Travel to me is road trips. Rocky roads and really long drives. A car trunk flooded with luggage, and some more in the rear seat. And by the feet. And on the lap. How it all fit into our little car, I’ll never know. I’ve been traveling for as far back as I can remember. The places I’ve been to are very few; I could count them on my fingers. But I’ve frequented some of them so often in all these years, I know them like the back of my hand. The known voices of familiar people, the recognisable bumps and cracks on the roads, the shopkeepers that know you by name… It is an extraordinary feeling to go somewhere and feel like you’re home. I constantly realise how people in faraway places lead separate lives but have a common existence.

Adventure to me is a forest. A familiar forest that I know the routes to. Yet ever so strange, unknown and enticing. Rugged jeeps navigating through craggy pathways as the dust gently powders your face and clouds your vision. A thudding heart, a camera held firmly in an unsteady hand and utter silence. The thrill of seeing nature through a lens in its wild, unmade, tousled form is unlike any other. With a still body and wide gaping eyes, I’ve learnt patience through a viewfinder. I’m not a great photographer, I must tell you. But growing up around my photographer dad, I’ve never been too far away from a camera.

I’ve always fancied putting on a khaki attire paired with brown boots and a dark green hat, as a way of being one with your surroundings. It’s a subtle part of maintaining the jungle decorum. And off we go in our jeeps, bumping away on weathered roads, the excitement building up. And a sudden halt – squint eyes searching in the dry, desolate expanse. The jungle in all its discreetness uncovers itself in the form of a ravishing beauty – a leopard. It stands there, half-hidden behind a tree trunk with a still, unblinking stare that makes the hair on your neck stand on end as it pierces through the silence. Thrill rides on the shoulders of suddenness. Eyelids flutter and the camera clicks away, taking shots that try to do justice to the breathtaking sight. It doesn’t know that the mind’s eye has already captured and ingrained this spectacle for the rest of time.

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These memories have grown with me, from childhood to adulthood. Experiences need to be remembered, taken care of, and nurtured like a relationship; lest they be long forgotten. They have asked for unremitting love and attention, and I’ve obliged. Each trip has been a journey closer within, while the pleasure excursion proceeds on the outside. I wait to see where the next trip takes me, while I hold on to my true north.

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