Indian Jugni in Malaysia

Travel is in my genes!

Post featured by www.embark.org and www.thebigbangtrip.com

December, 1986

Picture1With 3 bags and some heavy jewelry, an excited, newlywed bride is sitting inside the train, waiting for her husband to come. She is a young, delicate-looking, beautiful woman. The train is waiting at the platform to leave. It has been 10 minutes and she has spent the whole time looking out the window for her husband and his best buddies. They are supposed to be together and beginning their journey together to the Himalayas for their honeymoon. Adjusting her bangles, she looks lost in her thoughts, but it’s obvious that she is getting nervous.
This is when the train jerks and starts moving. Her husband is not outside. Where are they? Her husband and his friends were standing on the platform just a few seconds ago. She grabs the window railings and tries to get a better look. She still can’t see anyone. The train has picked up pace. She runs to the door to see if her husband is there. He is not. She looks all around in other compartments and toilets. He is not there either. She has tears in her eyes. She doesn’t know what to do. People sitting in her compartment, upon understanding the issue, ask her to calm down. They say he must be around, maybe in a different compartment. But in her heart of heart she knows by now that he has missed the train to their honeymoon.
Meanwhile, her husband has just reached the platform with his friends and is appalled to see that the train has left. His newly wedded wife is nowhere to be seen. He knows he has made a big mistake, but all he can do now is act fast and smart.
He and his friends rush to the station master’s office and manage to send a message in the running train. All he wants is his wife to know he will soon be with her. He also sends a set of instructions and jumps onto the next train to catch up with the train that he has missed.
The lady is relieved to hear from her husband. Once her train arrives at the Bina Train Station, she waits eagerly for her husband’s train to catch up with hers. She has been alone on this train for hours and just wants this debacle to be over. Suddenly, the train starts to leave the platform. Her husband still isn’t there. She is scared they are going to miss each other again.

In the meantime, the husband is sprinting between platforms to somehow catch the train. He shouts and signals to stop the train. People are clueless, but they hear the command in his strong, male baritone and act swiftly to pull the chains. He is almost running for his life. The train stops momentarily, but then begins moving again. He is still running as fast as he can. His wife sees him from across the platform, but is unsure of how to call out him. Being an Indian bride, tradition holds that she can’t take his name and they haven’t kept those private names for each other yet. After all, they had met just a week before they got married. That too briefly and in the presence of at least 7 more people in the room. She just doesn’t know what to do! Knowing there is no other option, she calls out to him by his name at the top of her voice.
“Sunil!”
Her husband whips around to see her. Both of them smile at each other as the husband signals her to pull the chain again. The people in the compartment help the lady pull the chain and they all rejoice together. Her husband makes it to the compartment. She is ecstatic and has tears in her eyes. The man has tears too. They hug each other for the first time in their life, making it their day of love.

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Later, they hike the mighty Himalayas in Uttarakhand, eat Maggi on the hilltops of Mussoorie, drink piping-hot Assam tea while watching the sunset in Almora, sail in the little lakes of Nainital and even walk up 20 miles just to have a look at the China border. And not to forget, they even stay back in Agra on their way back to see the perfect full moon night at the Taj Mahal. Such filmy lovers, you see. My parents definitely made their honeymoon trip one of the most memorable trips of their lifetime.
June, 2015

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It’s wonderful to see how an arranged marriage has worked out so well. My parents love doing everything together and one of the most important things to them is travel. While my dad is the more the daredevil kind, my mom is the more practical one. She is both extra careful and extra anxious. And to top it all I love to scare her with my adventures as well. Both Dad and I are extremely accident prone. This often gives my mom sleepless nights. After all for both of us, adventure is on the other side of taking risks. But my mom is so nervous to see both of us go on adventures that this time when I was doing a solo trip to Goa, she instructed me not to go in the sea at all. And I was like, “Mom, it’s Goa!”

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I agree, I have troubled her way too much. When I was a kid I fell from a tree, because I started dancing on top of a branch seeing a monkey in the jungle. I broke my shoulder. A few years later I went for a state level Judo championship and was excited to go swim in the river. I jumped without a thought, enjoyed it to the core but came home with a bundle of bruises. Even recently, when I went for a 24-day bike ride across the roads of peninsular India, I got three fractures, but did not come back home or even for a day just because I wanted to finish the journey back to Mumbai in time. In the last two and a half years as I have covered 19 out of 29 states in the country, taking up adventures in all shapes, sizes and forms and, as I write this, I am preparing for a solo backpacking trip across South East Asia. And mommy dearest is super nervous as usual. My dad has his fears too, but he knows the importance of letting me chase my dreams of travelling the world and takes on the role of calming my mother down.
There Are Stories in My DNA, Waiting to be Told
But isn’t it amazing to see that she gets so nervous about me when they back in the days used to travel with no cell phones, no internet, no review portals, no booking websites and apps (not that I can’t survive without them, but they most definitely come in handy). This makes me wonder, how did they find about so many places and not go crazy about managing their travel when all the people, including my parents totally rely on loads of information available on the internet?

My inquisitiveness made me ask them some of these obvious questions. And even before they answered they chuckled with a twinkle in their eyes. I prodded further only to find a bank of stories pouring out of their hearts. The moment my dad started talking about his childhood adventures and heroisms, mom pitched in to tell this epic honeymoon story. I have heard these stories a million times and never grow tired of listening them.
They also mentioned that they have experiences of adventures that, with all of these review sites and travel apps together, still won’t be enough of any more than the way they have experienced their journeys. There was nothing like getting lost because they would always find a way. They just went and once they were there, the locals and the local transport helped them explore the real essence of the place. It was always so much fun. They were not busy taking selfies and clicking hundreds of pictures. Adding filters and changing lenses. They let themselves get lost and enjoyed every minute to the core.
While my dad was saying this, I started questioning our ways of travelling. But then he said something that filled my heart with sheer happiness. He said, “look at you, girl! You are so well travelled and much more informed than we were. You will go places. And one day, you will have even richer stories to tell to the world and your children.”

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