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Travel is a state of mind, other than the journey. Mahima tells us how she was bitten by the travel bug. She tells us how to prepare for a getaway, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
There have been times when I have over-burdened myself with work and responsibilities. And then came the time, in 2015 when I began travelling solo and wrote about my journey in this column. If you missed out, you may read, Solo Travels of a Married Woman, published earlier.
But then there are times when we find it tough to travel. Sometimes due to financial crunch or mobility challenges and health issues or even work/family obligations. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t embrace the spirit of travel in the city we stay in! Today, I will share how I imbibed the spirit of travel when I could not get away. Believe me, it is only through this process that I could keep myself away from getting into work-related depression.
1. Read Travel Books/Stories
Read travel experiences of either the places you want to visit or your favourite authors. If the text is good, complemented by photographs, it will take you away right to that world! You can even read a solo traveller’s handbook, which will help you plan your next trip, whenever you find the time. Before I had travelled to the Taj Mahal, I had read all sorts of books on it. And today I can be a better guide than the locals.
2. Watch Travel Documentaries
Nothing works better than this idea. Visuals transport you to a different place altogether. What are NatGeo, Discovery, and History18 for? They take me instantly to the places unknown and also offer me ideas to pen my travelogues in future.
For instance, my god-brother Chetan Sahni travels a lot. And when he recently travelled to the
Sand Dunes of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, I ensured my husband that I had watched all his videos and even penned a travelogue on Chetan’s behalf.
And when I wish to food-travel, I watch related TV shows and documentaries. After all, what is travel without food!
3. Attend Cultural Events
Thankfully, the metropolis of my residence New Delhi has not only state houses of all the states in India but embassies of various nations. So the moment I get a craving to travel and I find myself tied by situations, I rush to one of these. Theatre festivals, cultural events, art galleries, etc. introduce me to the culture of a particular Indian state or the country of my choice. Before I chose to become an independent journalist, this is how I kept myself falling away from stress due to lack of adventure in life. The icing on the cake is that such events (even in your state/region) are usually free, so don’t worry about the finances.
4. Meet People
I had always wanted to visit McLeodganj and nearby places in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. But it wasn’t happening. So I began meeting Buddhist monks at the only monastery in my city. I began gathering information from Himachal Bhavan by meeting well-known people from that region. And this year, I finally visited the place. All that knowledge came handy. We had the fun-of-our-lifetime. And I even discovered Balh Valley, Kangra, which is rarely visited by tourists. Not only this, I even penned my first independent travelogue, which is the only link on Google for this hidden place and has recently won an award.
So go out and meet people, be it in your city or a nearby town. Or simply hop onto the bus and get off in a part of the town you don’t know well. Some cities have culture-based neighbourhoods, like in mine, people from the southern part of India stay in a specific region. Other parts of the city are where you can try a new food or see a different architecture or even hear a language other than your own. So simply take a local bus, you may not have to look far to find something new and interesting. It might be practically under your nose!
5. Listen to Music, Watch Dance Concerts
Listen to global music. Attend such festivals. It is better when you have the opportunity to attend a live performance. For me, listening to Sufi as well as Indian classical music works the best. It just soothes my nerves in the best possible way. And even science proves that music has great mental healing power. Same applies to watching dance concerts. Both music and dance instantly transport you to a world unknown, an expression beyond words, and a joy beyond limits.
6. Visit Museums & Monuments
Museums, art galleries, and monuments offer incredible opportunities to learn about a culture through art and history. I have an interest in old-age monuments. So I make it a point to research about the monuments in/around my city, carry a notebook and discover the same without a guide. And when I find myself satisfied having tallied each and every part I had noted, it just sets my pulse racing with enthusiasm to hunt another place.
So what are you waiting for? Not getting that year-end break this time? Don’t worry, take a deep breath, make a list of the above you want to attempt and get going. Mark my words, at the end of the experience you will end up thanking me for pushing you to embrace the spirit of travel from a place where you are.
Keep learning, keep discovering, and keep exploring. Stay curious. The elements that make you a good traveller will serve you well and make your life more interesting between journeys. It is the fact of life, a different truth. All the best!
Photos sourced from the author and from the Internet
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