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The magic of travel and why I do it

Alive is awesome

Looking back through the years, digging around my archives, re-living lost memories and dusting out old photographs as a part of the Alive and Awesome series of posts has been quite an interesting experience for me.

Alive is awesome
Why I travel: to witness sights like these

Sometimes, in the business of going about our humdrum activities and daily life, we need to latch on to some of these moments and I must say that I’ve been lucky to have lived through quite a few of them. So on those not so exciting days (which I hope gets over as soon), I try and bring back my memories and I feel better already.

Alive is awesome
There’s a whole new world out there
Alive is awesome
Discover and experience!

Alive is awesome
Seeing things with a different perspective is what I learnt from my numerous travels

So when I started thinking about experiences that make me feel alive, I realized that they largely revolve around travel. Which means that it’s an essential part of me and what I enjoy. Something that has gone on to define me through the years.

I think that the ability to let your preconceptions go, absorb new sights and places, try and understand people in the context of geography and history adds so much to our perspective and life’s impressions. On a certain level, you also learn not to take things, and yourself, too seriously. Especially when you feel how small a stitch you are in tapestry of the universe.

Alive is awesome
Man and the mountains: the contrast

And in no particular order, here’s a list of what gets me going, what makes me pack my bags and take off and what makes me feel alive!

Food: I am an out and out foodie. In fact, when I see people who are indifferent to food, I get a little depressed. The adage, “living to eat” is what I stand by. Thankfully, I found a man who loves food as much as I do. So much so that we go on diets together now after days of binge eating. But yes, cuisines and different tastes are what I love exploring. And whether it’s the chaat in Delhi, or the yummy Calcutta rolls, the pad thai in that hole in the wall Bangkok restaurant in San Francisco, or the seafood paella I gorged on in Barcelona, tastes and flavours excite me and that’s one aspect of travel I really enjoy.

Alive is awesome
Delicious paella, have to go back!
Alive is awesome
Stuffed capsicum cooked by a friend in Barcelona

People: There all kinds of people in the world and what would we be if we didn’t interact, share and exchange ideas with at least a fraction of them? Unless of course you’re a hermit who is comfortable in the cave and don’t want to come out of hiding! In most cases, during my travels, I meet interesting and memorable people. That person who goes way out to help you get somewhere; someone you keep bumping into whenever you go; a kindred spirit you meet and bond with immediately. Or even a bus driver who agrees to go a little out of the way. Kids on the road who are not at all shy to talk to you. (And I must admit that there are also not so nice people but if you’re careful enough, in most cases your senses are heightened enough by years of travel to recognise them!). And aren’t these experiences enriching enough to make you want to pack your bags again?

Alive is awesome
Witness the innocence of youth
Alive is awesome
Children are usually not self conscious

Sights and sounds: A valley in the middle of nowhere in Bhutan, the rays of the morning sun on a monastery in Dharmasthala, the expanse of the icy slopes of Auli, the picture perfect lake in Lausanne, the icy slopes of Tawang, and the beautiful high-ceiling train station in Washington… it’s the sights and sounds that keep coming back to me. They also remind me that we live in an immense world, where there are bigger things that we can even imagine.

Alive is awesome
A valley in Bhutan
Alive is awesome
And it’s good to be alive!
Alive is awesome
The heady rush at Hoggenhakkal falls
Alive is awesome
Down the river we go!

Perceptions: You think something. But you discover something else totally. You have fixed ideas but you go to a new place, see something new and realize that there are things beyond your zen. And I think it’s a good feeling if you embrace it and take it in a positive manner. Your sense of curiosity and your ability to change and adapt is honed with your ability to travel and experience things outside your comfort zone.

Alive is awesome
A monastery door

I couldn’t have really put it better than this link I found via Huffington Post: “Travel is important because it fundamentally transforms us. This experience of waking up to the power of your own transformation fires you up to “be the change you want to see in the world,” as Gandhi puts it.”

Some of the visuals from the Cinthol campaign, if you’ve watched them on TV or read about them online, brought back really great memories from my own travels. I’m happy I went out of my comfort zone when I was able (and still am!). And if I hadn’t and had just stuck to my own sheltered world, I’d probably be a very different person. And I much prefer the person I am today.

Alive is awesome
Cycling and camping at the Dudhsagar falls in Goa

While there’s still time, stop making excuses, pack your bags and go!

Alive is awesome
A new place, a new sight, a new experience!

There is nothing quite like riding in the rains, especially if you’re on a bicycle in the lush Coorg countryside soaked to the core. Or watching the sun go down in Chikmagalur.

I could show you a picture but there’s nothing quite close to the real experience. I wish I could relate in words the expanse of the valleys of Bhutan, the quietness and solitude of the Dragon’s Nest monastery in Paro. I have pictures, but no words can imagine the rush of climbing up and come face to face with this beautiful sight.

I can tell you that river rafting is really good fun as you go careening down in that one boat hanging on for life, but you need to get on to one for yourself. I can describe how delicious the paella is as you bite into the seafood pieces and the soft rice, but wouldn’t you like to get a taste for yourself?

Alive is awesome
An experience you’ll remember for a long time!

Travel when you have the time and energy. And more importantly, the desire. Don’t let excuses, kids and other baggage get into the way! See the world, experience the people, walk other streets than just your neighbourhood. Taste and appreciate cuisine that is vastly different to yours. Dive into the sea and get a feel of life under water. Climb the highest mountain in your state and witness the most magnificent view. These moments are priceless. These moments will make you feel more alive than you’ve ever felt. That is a guarantee!

Alive is awesome
Feeling alive at the top of the Bandaje Abbe waterfalls (photo credit: Silvester Divas)

So what are you waiting for? Go pack your bags and book your tickets already!
Why travel makes us happy

Why we travel

Pico Iyer’s why we travel

(This is a part of the blogging series for the Alive is Awesome bathing project by Cinthol)

Fancy a polar plunge bath? Head to:
– Lake Hudson, Canada
– Outer Glaciers, Iceland
– Beardmore Glacier, Antarctica
– Northern Borders, Greenland

More in the Alive is Awesome series:
Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. You can also read the icy experience, mountain and icy water crossings and my first ocean bath!

(All photographs in this post are mine, unless credited otherwise).


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