We travel not to escape life, but life not to escape us – Unknown
I’m not a writer, I’m not a blogger, I haven’t traveled a lot, yet, but the year 2015 was a defining moment in my life and amidst the chaos we live in, it was the biggest breakthrough I was looking for.
Somewhere in the second half of 2014 I really started to look at the possibilities of traveling someplace. A rather nomadic feeling, the quest for, you can call it enlightenment, meditation, we all have some reason. I wanted to get out of the hustle and bustle and calm my nerves down, keep it low budget and simply explore. I found India! While staring at the impossible task of traveling the whole of India I knew I had to start somewhere. But where to start? Working towards a goal is not something that I was used to. But I was good at researching and putting together information, and that was a good place, to begin with. When we all want to do something, I think the best place is to look inside your own self and figure out a way. I was never an outward person and to an extent, I still am not.
This massive sub-continent has so many entry ways, it’ll take a lifetime to figure out where to head first. I have traveled before but not on this scale and not alone. Nevertheless, I thought I’ll put Delhi as an entry point and start from the Capital City. Prior to this, I had never been to any North Indian City, nothing beyond Pune in Maharashtra. Having lived a good amount of my life in South India, I had developed a particular notion about the North and the difficulties that it poses when one wants to travel there. I had to break down these clichés and move ahead.
Ladakh had been on my bucket list like many. I put this suggestion to a few of my friends at our weekly (sometimes daily) meet up and was very keen to get all of them to join and do this trip. We discussed the possibility of traveling sometime in 2015 when we all could join in. I was fixed on April as I wanted to give myself the best birthday present I can give and is probably the best time to travel in India before the monsoon hits. In my line of work, a vacation is very important, at least for me to keep my sanity in check and I get to split 30 days over a year.
After a few weeks I found out Ladakh wasn’t viable in April because of the road closures that happen and it takes until June/July for it to open up if you want to travel by road. Without wanting to move the trip to June, I wanted to find another place to travel. The next big destination I had in mind apart from the usual Goa (I still haven’t been there) and other places was the North-East of India. Up until that time, I had no clue or even read about anyone who traveled to this unknown corner of India. I did have quite a few friends from these parts when I was in college but I was not in touch with any. Now that I have been there, I’d say, trust me, go for it. I haven’t seen a more mystical and magical place in India, ever!
The leading months to April, I gathered all the info I could get on google, indiamike.com, prepared itineraries, and places to visit. It almost felt like I was preparing a thesis and had an exam coming up. I spent countless nights, youtubing and reading away, jotting down all the important places to visit and how to manage your finances to do it. The North-East might look small on the map but it covers 8 states and by no means an easy task. I had to settle for 4 at the end with the limited time I was getting. When March came, I was surprised and kind of disappointed, when I heard none of my friends could join in for the trip. I kept pushing each one of them and had to continue with my plan and go for it alone. But a ray of hope shined through when a friend confirmed a week before I was planning to leave and he was ready to join, provided he got his vacation approved on time.
My plans were set, the mind was ready (this is the most important part), itineraries prepared, bags packed, I set out to Guwahati via Delhi as per my original plan. My friend joined me soon after within 2 days with a plan to join me for about 10 days. I traveled to Kaziranga in Assam alone in a shady bus for Rs.350, then met my friend in Guwahati again and headed to Siliguri in North Bengal after traveling footboard on a last minute train. Then onto Gangtok, Sikkim on a broken down air conditioned bus for Rs.140, touching the mighty Himalayas and went back to Assam to continue onwards to Shillong in Meghalaya to the border with Bangladesh, back in Assam again where my friend left to his hometown Hyderabad and a final solo 24 hour journey to and fro in the Eastern Himalayas to Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh which once belonged to Tibet, first on an SUV with 13 other passengers and then back on a State transport bus for some 400 Rupees. Overall, I spent about 24 days and visited parts of 5 states and Delhi, met a lot of new people, stayed with some and exchanged unforgettable memories.
That trip will remain the single best thing that changed my life forever. I came to know why Adidas believed in “Impossible is nothing” and why Nike tells you to “Just do it”. I picked up traveling, backpacking, amateur photography, reading, long distance running and walking, trekking, hiking, mountaineering and climbing as my new hobbies.
The day I was returning back home, I had already envisioned the next trip and Ladakh was looming. I just needed the dates, some money and preparation were well underway as soon as I landed. I fell in love with India like never before and the vast possibilities it offers to all kinds of people.
Fitness was key so I started to work on that as well after realizing this is very important for my trips. I visited Ladakh in September 2015 for about 15days and achieved my first trekking/mountaineering goal of climbing a 6000er mountain and visited Manali in Himachal Pradesh en route and Srinagar in Jammu & Kashmir on the way back from Leh, traversing through the borders of India and China. My trips were recorded in the digital world and you can see them visually on my Instagram. Now smitten by the bug I can’t say no to another trip and another after that, and it goes on. I left a clue for my next destination somewhere in the back of my mind and on Facebook to remind myself and this time I’m taking things to a different level.
Interesting as it can be, this, I thought is a good platform for me to document and share these experiences moving forward. I hope I can inspire everyone out there to move out of their comfort zone, meet the challenges ahead of them and believe in what Adidas and Nike have to say in your life. Always remember, “Impossible is nothing” and “Just do it”.