Deep sapphire blue water right under your toes, dangling from the edge of a short cliff. The water lazily washes ashore the pebble beach. A light breeze ruffles your hair. There’s no noise. There’s nobody in sight for miles. The water extends a few kilometres. And in the distant horizon, you can see a few mountains rise from the earth. From this distance, they seem like mere hills. But having spent the last two weeks in the landscape, you know they’re tall mountains that may not be easily climbed. The tell-tale remnants of the snowy peaks only attest to their misleading height. So, here you are, breathing in the fresh air, surrounded by a water body and mountains.
You now know peace. Heaven, right?
As I write this from my room in a 2BHK house in the middle of a heavily concretised city, it’s hard to remember just what peace smells like. Especially for my lungs. Every deep breath only pushes peace further away thanks to all the inhaled pollutants. I’m sure it’s the same for you, reading from your own space in another concretised jungle.
But one can always imagine. Better yet, one can remember.
And when memory fails, then one can watch. Isn’t that why we travel?
And that’s why Edna St Vincent Millay’s words in the poem ‘Travel’ really call out to me.
“My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take
No matter where it’s going.”
TRAVEL AND THE 90s KIDS
I love to travel. And thankfully, I manage to travel a fair bit. (Of course, it’s never enough, and I can never come to accept that I travel a lot!) Perhaps it’s something to do with being a 90s child.
I—and many others like me—grew up watching #DilwaleDulhaniaLeJayenge.
From #London to a #Europe trip to the beautiful farmlands of #Punjab—each scenery was more exotic than the other. Needless to say, we learnt to fantasize about Europe even before we studied world geography in school. The other #YashChopra movies filmed in locations like #Switzerland only added to the #wanderlust.
THE LAND OF DREAMS
Then came the movie #Pardes, and freshly introduced was the land of dreams— #TheUnitedStatesOfAmerica. Another new destination was then added to the list of must-travel destinations. Who did not want to drive around a beautiful location with the windows rolled down, the wind in the hair, singing ‘Yeh Dil… Deewana’?!
A FILMY PILGRIMAGE
A year or so after the movie released, my school arranged for a 12-day trip to #Jaipur and #Agra—it was my first travel plan around the country that lasted more than a few days. We covered the most obvious destinations—the #TajMahal, the #RedFort and the #AmerFort in Jaipur.
But being the 90s kid, it was #FatehpurSikri that stood out for me. It’s the place where #ShahRukhKhan ran around in search of #MahimaChaudhry’s character in the climax. The song visuals are still etched in my memory. I was a child in paradise, replaying each scene again and again. That said, the golden triangle can be a great starting point for movie lovers.
In fact, it can be a pilgrimage of its own kind if your religion happens to be cinema’. At the Taj Mahal, you can remember how #BuntyAurBabli sold the great monument. At the Amer Fort, you can relive #Jodha and #Akbar’s historical love story. Not to mention the myriad movies that feature the Red Fort in Delhi.
Luckily, the golden triangle of Delhi-Jaipur-Agra is one of the easiest ways to start exploring India.
From there, you can either branch west to the #Thar deserts in #Rajasthan or the #RannofKutch. Maybe dance to some ‘Dhol Baaje’, ‘Nagada Sang Dhol’ or ‘Ghoomar’s on the way if you travel during the right time of the year. Make sure you get the full local experience.
THE GATEWAY OF INDIA
Another time, however, I headed north, sauntering to the tunes of ‘Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh’. This time, it was ‘Roja’ and ‘3 Idiots’ that were my travel inspirations. (To those who like to Trek, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani can be your movie companion!)
The movies can only try to do justice to the wonders that are the #Kashmir and #Ladakh districts. They have to be seen and experienced to be truly believed!
When we set out from #Chandigarh on our #RoyalEnfields, I hardly doubt we were prepared for the breath-taking change in landscapes. #Pathankot, especially, was a revelation. I forgot about any other hill station I ever visited. From there, we set onwards towards the Himalayas, soon zipping around snow—both fresh and old. Some areas had more tourist presence than others like #Sonamarg, #Leh, and #PangongLake (and one could see its negative impact in an increase in the trash!). But most of it was a deep blue sky against an arid landscape. Whatever clouds remained, threw dark shadows on the barren hills, turning them into an ever-changing art piece.
Once there, you’ll realise the true meaning of the phrase: ‘It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.’
My favourite moment, however, was at #TsoMoriri—away from all the clichéd movie locations. We managed to ride further than the check post into a small village, half-way through the length of the lake. We stopped in the middle of nowhere. And while my friends were mucking around, I was left alone at the edge of a cliff, hanging above the deep blue lake. I only have to close my eyes to get transported there again. (Who says you only travel once, eh?!)
SWIMMING IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS
All said and done, travelling in #India wasn’t enough. I decided I will plan at least one international trip every year along with one new destination within the country. While my friends were busy borrowing loans to buy houses and cars, I decided to set aside monies to travel.
Europe was still on my mind.
And then came #ZindagiNaMilegiDobara—one of the greatest travelogues of the current decade. #Spain suddenly became ‘The’ country to visit. Luckily for me, an opportunity to travel there arose when a friend invited me to her wedding in #Madrid.
I started researching. First, it started as a week-long plan. It was the traditional mindset: “What would you do in a single country for more than a few days?” After all, those were the days when people travelled to Europe in a single tour package that lasted 10 days! But one painstaking research after another yielded so many wonders that I couldn’t fit them all even after extending my vacation to 20 days! That’s one-third of a month, and I was still left wanting.
From the beautiful rough waters and mountains in the North of Spain to the changing beaches across the Western coastline, I managed to travel to nearly 10 cities.
I even travelled to places that would later become filming locations for #GameofThrones! Here’s the funny part though: The locals in so many of these places had never even seen an Indian before! Can you guess in how many of these cities I saw fellow Indians? Answer: Two. Barcelona and Seville—both of which are covered in ZNMD! YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.
At most of these places and others, I’ve travelled solo. Like #RanbirKapoor in #YehJawaniHaiDeewani, I was on a journey of my own. All I knew was that, company or not, I will travel. Again and again. As he says in #YJHD: “Main udna chahta hun, Daudna chahta hun, Girna bhi chahta hun. Bas, rukna nahi chahta.”
And trust me, I’ve met more people, heard more stories, had great conversations and overall, got a better experience because of this. Across the many countries I’ve visited—#UK, #Spain, #Turkey, #Maldives, #Nepal and #Dubai to the different towns and cities I’ve travelled to in India—I’ve now collected so many stories about people both similar and different in their own sweet ways. I learnt to draw parallels between different cultures, and also learnt to see through new perspectives.
Through all this, I can only say this:
YOU CAN NEVER TRAVEL ENOUGH!
What started as a love affair with films has now turned into a love to see the world, taste new flavours, hear new languages and see new landscapes. It makes you realise just how vibrant life can be. So, while the movies continue to inspire and fill me with wonders about new lands, travel has now taken a life of its own!