The sun was scattering diamonds as we left our campsite – home to a few temporary nights – and started heading back to Bangalore. Driving through the wilderness and the many sleepy settlements around Coorg, we slowly turned onto a 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 this three-day trip. We were quite thrilled, in fact, with the experiences and the memories the journey had left us with.
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 while travelling, the places we stay and all activities we follow in the itinerary don’t matter. Because when you sit down and think of your time, the people you met on the riad 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, drinks beers and listening to the sound of the guitar – while gazing, almost incessantly, at the twinkling stars. While at other times, playing simple games or giving our romantic viewpoints during many half-baked conversations. 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, on any given day, would ostentatiously say ‘I travel alone because this is the best way to travel’. The idea of travelling with others never really made much sense. What if I didn’t like their company? What if we had an argument in the middle of the journey? Many such insecurities 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 – of travelling in a group – now seems much more rewarding.
As I began discerning the features, and with them, the possibilities, the learnings, this journey has impacted on me, a little more clearly. I have 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 for 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.”