First travel experience can either be very common or can be formative in nature. Oh and I am not talking about your bi-annual luxurious family vacations to Bangkok or your fondest memories of trips to your granny’s in your coconut-studded village in Kerela. This is about travelling far and away from comforts and luxuries, pushing limits and stepping into the unknown. Sounds adventurous? Isn’t it?
Talking of first travel experience takes me back to this wonderful film I saw a couple of months back, Before Sunset. The film has the protagonist speaking my favourite travel quote from the cinema of the world. It goes like this-
“I remember as a teenager I went to Warsaw. Something about being there was very interesting. After a couple of weeks, something changed in me. The city was quite gloomy and gray, but after a while my brain seemed clearer. I was writing a lot in my journal, ideas I’d never thought of before. It took me a while to figure out why I felt so different. And then, one day I was walking through the Jewish cemetery, it occurred to me there, I realized that I had spent the last two weeks away from most of my habits. TV was in a language I didn’t understand, there was nothing to buy, no advertisements anywhere, so all I was doing was walk around, think and write. My brain felt like it was at rest, free from the consuming frenzy. It was almost like a natural high. I felt so peaceful inside. No strange urge to be somewhere else, to shop. May be it could have seemed boredom at first but it quickly became very, very soulful.”
Celine, Before Sunset
And, I couldn’t have agreed more.
The dialogue pretty much sums up my first into the wild, travel experience too- a sojourn in the exotic, the happiest, Bhutan. I went for a nature trek with a group of 40 people, who were passionate about nature and would not shy away from carrying bags full of the trash from the mountains, thrown by others, and mere by urge. I spent two weeks living out of the shell I had grown up in. We lived in a hotel in Thimpu with a mesmerizing view of ice-coated mountains. In another city, Paro, we were blessed with the thunderous sound of a river that flowed at a distance of 50 meters in straight view from our room balconies. When we would travel in our bus from a place to another, we stopped for lunches near waterfalls streaming their way into the deep valleys. I hiked the Tiger’s Nest in Paro, a monastery perched at 3120 meters above the sea level. For a first timer, I finished the arduous trek in two hours, an achievement which makes me proud of myself.
I discovered that life had been pushing me to illusions all this while. Something about being there was extremely peaceful and calming. Of course, I was not haunted by the over-consumption of social media or by the pressure to pursue all things cool. I did not encounter the presence of a food, retail or any other brand as a matter of fact. There was no frenzy to trap people into a certain lifestyle or a thought of ideal living. The communities here lived closely in a natural environment rather than a man-destroyed one. In short, just as much close to nature as cities like Mumbai and Delhi are away.
Bhutan is far from being a commercialized tourist spot or a much-traveled country. A government that measures its growth by the Gross National Happiness of its people is undoubtedly an international pride.
Bhutan was a turning point in the way I managed myself in the world, it triggered a respect and faith in nature. I came back stunned and lost. For days, I could not decipher the meaning of what I had felt. I sensed a desire to look at circumstances more positively and let go. You know so much like the way those three guys from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or those two dying men from The Bucket List felt. I came back with a mind-blowing clarity, determined to take control and inspired so much I could have stood for the US state elections. It’s funny the way I think of it now. This is called inspired I feel.
Would you like to share your first travel experience too? Was it similar to mine or a bit different? Comment below and lets talk about your exciting journey!