Oh, the places you’ll go..

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“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”.

Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. – Ibn Battuta

Now that you have seen the sunrise view from my bathoom in Positano (captured via i-phone), I think you are jealous enough. We may begin.. 😛

My husband and I (let’s just call him my boyfriend, for I am still getting accustomed to calling him my husband, and more importantly, I refuse to grow up) just returned from a short yet wildly optimized trip to Italy and France. You can call it our Honeymoon, but I couldn’t possibly comment! (House of Cards BBC version anyone?) So this is partly my jet-lagged self and partly a nostalgic romantic suffering from vacation withdrawal pouring her heart out. So bear with me a little bit, as I take you back to the timeless spectacle, cultural medley and an epicure’s dream, that is Europe. (warning: turns out, I wont)

Let’s get our background aligned. Neither of us had ever been to Europe, in spite of at least a dozen lay-overs across it for the past half decade. Coming from a middle class Maharashtrian family, our family trips were limited to Mahabaleshwar for summer and Shimla was a once-in-a-childhood-time kind of event. Europe, thanks to Kesari Travels, was the dream that fueled career aspirations and Yash Raj films were the biggest source of Europe tourism. If you had a hard-working adult-life, saved enough for retirement and were successful in convincing your newly married kids to make you grand-babies, your part in a Marathi house was done. Then, you were ready for your “All of Europe Kesari Tour” and uncountable hours of watching Marathi serials.

After almost 15 years of “ I will earn enough to afford a Kesari trip at 30 and not at 60”, I realized how easily our goals change and you want to run as far away from a Kesari type crowd in front of the Colosseum in Rome munching on their Kande-Pohe and Chai while you devour your Neapolitan pizza and drool on your Gelato! No offense, I am sure many Indians appreciate familiar food in other countries, and to each their own.

My friends here in USA, who are born and raised here often tell me stories of how they visited Europe over a summer break, or spent a semester of college studying there. It seems like there is a culture here, of visiting Europe too, just like we Indians have. The substantial difference however lies in HOW they explore it. Folks here learn a foreign language and stay for a few months with locals in the European country-side or go a back-packing trip, staying in hostels (yes, like in the movie, Queen), working locally to earn enough to travel more and in all of this, explore the true culture of the land. To clarify, I am sure there are reverse examples- of Indians doing such extensive trips and Americans doing the classic-selfie-taking Kesari-kinda trip- and surely, India is going the right way.

But I guess my point here is two-fold. 1. I wish my family (and I am sure I speak for many of you) traveled more. More so, focused on traveling locally, nationally and internationally as a part of life. Economic barriers and priorities are understandable. But we can do a better job of ingraining travel and exploring the world as a hunger in our families, along with our usual aspirations of “Olympiads and Scholarships” and “IITs and entrance exams”. I am sure it not only helps in learning about new things in the world, but it makes you liberal, humble and more curious, of what lies beyond what you have seen so far. Traveling with family, making experiences together can help in growing as a happier unit and I am sure, prepares you way better than those days spent in classrooms.

Secondly, it is how you travel. I have seen myself bust my own premonitions and myths through visiting new places and meeting different people. Had we done a pre-organized trip, we would never have met a social entrepreneur and translator couple from Sweden, spending a good part of a night talking about European politics and local delicacies for the sweet-toothed in Roma. Nor would we have enjoyed a hearty lunch at a French bistro in Paris with a non-English speaking old couple forcing us to try (more like chug) all the exquisite wine they ordered at our adjacent table. That grandpa, all of 84 years, told us stories of his 40 years in Paris through the world war times, 44 years in Nice, in southern France where he fell in love with his wife (who he stated multiple times, made him a very happy and lucky man) and how he visited India pre-independence. All of this, without a sentence in English, where such an effortless dialog pursued through hand-gestures and a lot of good Mediterranean wine.

Don’t wait till you have enough bank balance, make a piggy bank to save all the times you eat at home on weekends vs. going out! Don’t accrue vacation time off work only for India trips- or spend most long weekends going to your friend’s bungalow in Lonavala for a daaru party. Make time for all the possibilities beyond your imagination, step out of your comfort zone, and force a trip to a new place. You will never regret it. Someone nailed it, when they said- “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

Clearly, I digress and dramatize. 🙂

I was going to take you through our little trip but I instead took you through my rant. Classic me eh? I will leave you with a couple of teasers and a promise to write about our actual trip next..

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Gondola, waiting for its ride at the Grand Canal, Venice, Italy.

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Trevi Fountain gleaming in all its glory in the heart of Rome, Italy.

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Doesn’t need an identifier. Icon of Europe. Paris, France.

 

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Posted on April 30, 2016, in Arbit. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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