For some strange reason, the first thing I think of when I hear the phrase ‘travel’, is an airport. I know it's sort of clichéd, because in lots of ways, while air travel is perhaps the most comfortable and quickest, it is one of the more 'scenically challenged' routes to take while traveling. Unless you're into...well, what the kids these days call...erm...cloud porn. I reckon my attraction towards airports has probably something to do with the fact that I’ve always found them to be fabulous places to people watch. Those scenes of people arriving and departing. The stories - of hearts broken, of affairs rekindled, of excitement unparalleled, of sadness indescribable. Every face has a story and sometimes when I get time, I try to weave a story around them. But today, it’s not about airports. It’s about travel. Sorry, I digressed.
The more I think about it, the more certain I am. The wanderlust bug definitely lost its way trying to find me. And once it did find me, it administered the slowest release of this 'travel poison' into my blood - so slow in fact that it took me almost 20 years to discover this love for traveling that I presently have.
But then again, maybe it wasn't the bug's fault. After all, I grew up in a household where the idea of a trip was saving up money to visit extended family in India, once every year. So between saving money for these trips, buying things for people we'd come across on these trips (of course we had to - we were in the 'gelf' after all) and then actually running around to every relative's house while on holiday, well, it's safe to say, the wanderlust bug probably got confused and left. Years later, when it finally returned, it nipped me and I started to think about how much more there is to the experience traveling - the joy of discovering new places, seeing new faces, tasting new cuisines, being adventurous, trying new things and so much more. To me, it was very much like those kids discovering Narnia. Well, except I didn't have talking lions and the secret cupboards and the rest of that.
So, it's safe to say that I only started traveling into my mid-20s. Yes, the same age at which some of these new legions of travel bloggers and writers get addressed as experienced and veterans. So, that's how late I was to the game. But fortunately, I didn't let old age deter me too much and traveled as much as these creaky bones of mine would let me. Of course, then we became parents. And then the rest, as they say is history. But more about that in another post.
What I didn't realize was that no matter how much or how little you travel, there is one thing that a good travel escapade often leaves you with. A side effect of sorts - a travel withdrawal symptom, if you will. I call it post-Travel Blues and I discovered it the hard way. It is something that affects you when you have really enjoyed your travel. It doesn't matter whether the place you traveled to is one of the top most spot on the Lonely Planet guide or an almost hidden mountainside less known to most mortal beings. It's all about how much you enjoy being there, living in the moment, experiencing everything that the place has to offer and often at times, rediscovering yourself in the process.
Now, I believe that's what travel is all about. It's neither the destination nor the route alone, but a sum total of those plus every new experience you have and every new memory you create. Yes, I stop to take photographs too. But while it used to be about the likes and hearts that they would accumulate on social media, I soon realized that photographs are important memory triggers too. They too are part of that travel experience and perhaps will One day rescue you when your memory is no longer what it used to be.
I've come to realize that for most of us, post travel blues hits us the day before the return trip. Starts with a lot of sighing and shrugging, and our emotional fight with the realization that it's time to go back. And then on the return trip, we are torn between reliving those memories, the prospect of 'going back to the grind and everything it entails and of course, promising ourselves that another destination awaits us, with new experiences to be had and memories to be made.
Come to think of it, in a lot of ways, traveling is like an addiction. An incurable and often 'high-on-your-pocket' one, satiated only by the possibility of a trip in the not-so-distant future. After all, that is the true essence of travel.
Or maybe, travel is like opening a box of Pringles. Once you start, you really cant stop.