Imagine Marco Polo travelling with wife and children. Imagine getting late to attend the Great Khan’s court, probably because his wife wasn’t sure about which attire to coiffeur herself in? Or, because his child was indisposed? Nah, doesn’t work!
For that matter, can you imagine Hiuen Tsang (Xuanzang) coming to India as part of a guided tour? A Seventh century “Three nights and Four days in Nalanda” excursion to exotic India, with complimentary breakfast in a Buddhist vihara thrown in! That doesn’t work for me either. David Livingstone, obsessed with the idea of discovering the source of the Nile, planning his expeditions to coincide with the school holidays. How utterly absurd! Droll, even.
I am what they call, a “solivagant”. Someone who loves to wonder alone, a peregrine who would rather take to the wings on one’s own. But the problem is, I am married with a child. My wife doesn’t like to travel “off grid”, that is off the beaten track. For her, a holiday is a getaway from what she calls, the “humdrum of everyday life”, when, cocooned in comfort, the only trek she wants to undertake is either to the spa or the shopping mall. Initially, she used to accompany me, at least to the local hotspots, if only to get her selfies, but alas. She has since mustered photoshop and prefers to include pictures taken at the hotel pool, in which she can add the waves, or the snow, or whatever she feels like. My son, a typical teenager, prefers the comforts that star properties provide, binging on games as the indulgent hotel staff generally cater to his gastronomical fantasies.
For example, two of my most favourite indulgences when travelling – walking around the place to savour the feeling, the spirit of the land and tasting the local cuisine, especially what is popularly termed as “street food”, are an absolute no-no for both my wife and son. She abhors the idea of walking aimlessly, that too, often for hours at an end, in an alien surrounding where every other person looks like a potential mugger to her. My son prefers to check out the local cuisine on the net, read the reviews and then talk to the hotel chef so that an “edible” version of the same is made for him, if at all. He says, it is only his love for me that makes him go through all the trouble, when the smarter option of calling pizza delivery is now ubiquitous.
I am interested in the built history – the architectural legacies that dot almost all parts of the world as I am interested in the historical significance of the place. My wife and son are unanimous in their decision to stay away from “ruins”. Visits to the local museums, a must for me, is another big turn off for them and let us leave it at that. Taking photographs – and I prefer the 35 mm DSLR camera over mobile phones, pixels be damned – is another thing that leads to flashpoints. They will just not allow me enough time to compose the perfect shot, preferring the burst mode of their phone cameras to do the trick, even as they hurry on to go through the motions of accompanying me, obviously missing the comforts of the hotel.
That leaves me, the hodophile me, with two options – either we go together, check into the nearest resort or hotel with all amenities, leave my wife and child to pamper themselves as I hit the travel trail, all by myself; or, on business tours, smuggle in a couple of days, when I can check out the local attractions. The problem with either is that they end up more as whirlwinds, always leaving the heart yearning for more and the body drained of all energies. But what a pleasant fatigue it is.
It is this pleasant fatigue that I will be writing about – with mentions about the family’s five-star stays thrown in for good measure. I will also want to post photographs that I take from the trip, more as memories to cherish than anything else. No, I do not wish to mould myself into an influencer, with an obscene number of followers in the social media. The idea is to keep a journal of my travels, destinations that friends (and foes alike) may want to read about before they plan their next trip.
Sounds interesting? Read on.