The sun was scattering diamonds as we left our campsite – home to our few temporary nights – and started heading back to Bangalore. Driving through the wilderness and the many sleepy settlements around Coorg, we slowly turned onto the snarl of bigger roads that clog and clutter the modern city life.
The final drive, back to where it all started, was rather strange. Everyone kept silent, despite much going in their head. I think it was the melancholy, kicking in hard, as no one, it seemed, had a perfect set of words to start a conversation. The silence felt awkward, creating a sense of discomfort, almost the way you feel the moment you first meet a group of unknown people. But this silence had some meaning to it, some memories, which kept reverberating in our head, with every passing minute.
As I personally drew it out, everyone was, at least, quite satisfied with how this three-day trip went by. We were quite thrilled, in fact, with the experiences and the memories the journey had left us with. And we knew, despite the places we had seen, the treks we did and the food we ate, it was something else that made this trip such a complete success – something that, time and time again, has proven to be far more important and rewarding than any other aspect of travel.
It’s the people. And their great, unforgettable company!
“It matters not where or how far you travel – the farther commonly the worse – but how much alive you are” Henry David Thoreau
I think sometimes where we stayed or what all activities we followed in the itinerary doesn’t matter. Because when you sit down and think of your time, the people you met on the way is the first thing that comes to your mind. And every time you think of them, you find yourself smiling.
I remember sitting still with this great bunch, sipping our drinks, listening to the sound of guitar – while gazing, almost incessantly, at the twinkling stars. While at other times, playing simple games or giving our fierce viewpoints around many endless debates. We laughed, had arguments, played our parts, and did nothing but relished all those little experiences from our days together. Though the trip lasted for only three days – the memories it left us with are countless.
I realise I was one of those people who, at any given day, would ostentatious say ‘I travel alone because this is the best way to travel’. Though it’s a different thing that you keep meeting people on the road and share your journey with them, time in and time again. But the idea of setting off to a place with a bunch of people, knowing you’d stay with them the entire time and come back was, for me, far from the imprisoning comfort of traveling alone. What if I don’t like them, or in fact, they, in return, would hate me. These little insecurities of mind always played their part.
But this time, as I sat down for some time, upon my return, to make an outline, a linear A-B-C guide of the last trip I had, as I often do, I came up with the realization that this journey, which initially seemed nothing more than yet another passage through time and places – now seem much more rewarding.
As I began discerning the features, and with them the possibilities, the learnings, this journey has imparted on me, a little more clearly – I realised that it has taught me about how, sometimes, going with a group of people with the idea of following them, could just be yet another best way of travel.
It’s only by taking myself away from the clutter and panic of making my own itineraries, all the time – which, however, has its own charm – I began to comprehend something, with complete mindfulness and realisation, that such experiences can also be, sometimes, much more invigorating than giving voices to all the thoughts and prejudices you keep struggling with, for days on end.
It’s only by making no plan — by sitting still, or following the things as they come your way — you realise that the thoughts that come to you now, almost unbidden, are far fresher and more imaginative than the ones you consciously entertain.
You start your journey as complete strangers, trying to break the ice with every passing minute. But in just a matter of a few days, you develop a comfort zone, a sweet reality, almost believing that you know these faces from a long time.
I think it was the charm of the great company, of these awesome people, I luckily ended up travelling with; or perhaps, it was our host, who, despite the highs and lows, did some magic. Guess that’s what going with ‘aMadNomad’ on a trip is all about. They care about your experiences, give you many unforgettable memories and spare you to part with saying, “what a wonderful way to navigate through places.”
Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by a Bangalore based tour company called aMadNomad, that now also runs a chain of Hostels in Himachal Pradesh by the name of The Bunker.