Eager and Hopeful

To be able to travel is a blessing. What can be more fulfilling than seeing everything there is to see in this world we live in? Every bit of me yearns to see so much.

I have traveled a little- Except for a week in the UK and two months in the US with my family, not so much outside India. I was quite young then, when we traveled across the USA. It was the summer of 2008. I still remember New York so fondly. I remember how I was fascinated by the Times Square: the humongous screens, the neon colors, the illuminated signs, the huge structures, the advertisements. I remember how the place was so busy. There were the tourists looking up in awe, quite typical of the place and the others, walking on hastily in different directions, like they all had something important to finish right away. They must’ve been the locals. I remember how my brother and I were thrilled and ecstatic when we spotted Mark Henry (or a man who resembled him too much) outside the RAW stadium. But much beyond all of this was the Liberty island. The view from the island – the waters leading to the impeccably picturesque New York skyline was a sight to behold. That picture, I still have safe in my mind. The Liberty Island gave me some kind of peace. It felt different, different in a tranquilizing way. I was proud that in a city as urban, metropolitan, busy and noisy as New York, I had found my quiet soothing spot. New York will always be special.

I wish I had been a little older and much wiser then. I wish I had appreciated what I saw better. I wish I had traveled the way I would now. But there is no place for regret where there is hope and time. There’s a whole life left, to do this and more, my way.

A large part of my traveling (otherwise) has been quite vicarious. I spend hours of ardent reading on travel blogs. They have taught me one important thing – the most beautiful places are always the unknown ones one finds on exploring. Every post I read, every picture I see of all the travel sites I’ve subscribed to, every time I think of Paris, Greece, the Caribbean, Australia, Sikkim and so much more, my desire to travel intensifies. This has all inspired me to want to travel-write. I hope that someday, my travel diary narrates delightful stories about interesting people, adventurous trips and unbelievable scenes, just like the ones I follow. The start is not too far away.

Tomorrow is the day I leave. Three days in Bombay. Four in Lonavala. Half a day in Pune. And 24 hours of traveling by train – something I have been missing sorely. I hope it is an enriching week.

Eager and hopeful,
Ashwini

Do you have a Bucket-list?

Some events add words to your vocabulary for eternity, like no amount of rote learning can – words that you never knew existed the day before. In some cases, words that did not actually exist the day before. Our word here is “BucketList”: a word that Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson effortlessly added to everyone’s lexicon and to many many Facebook status messages. It’s probably the most clichéd, banal, overused word online, yet still the coolest. Scroll down to every pic that has a caption“Bucket List – item1 – CHECK” and it cannot possibly have less than a hundred likes. That’s the power of this word.

Go on Google and by the time you’re done typing the words, auto-suggest suggests “Bucket List ideas”. And that shows people are actually putting some effort into creating their lists. . That’s how necessary and indispensable the list has become. Everyone’s got to have a list. And in this cool list, there are some items that EVERYONE has. They are very stereotypical. But if everyone has them, there’s got to be something amazing about them.

1.   Bungee Jumping: Imagine this. A cliff in an abandoned expanse. No one around, except for the Bungee Jumping organizer guys, of course. There’s peace. I scream and it echoes back. There’s water down there, down down there. It looks quite far away. God knows how many meters. Or kilometers? There’s green everywhere. It’s mid-day, yet I can’t see the sun. It isn’t bright or dark. It’s just the mild ambiance that you’d want. I breathe in and it feels fresh. It feels like I’m inhaling pure oxygen, for the first time. The impending jump would raise my excitement/anxiety levels to an all-time high. Fear would make me want to step back. But the jump needs just a second, and after that there’s no backing out. My shrill shriek through it will slice through the silence characteristic of the place. I’d come back up, feeling awesome about myself. And the place would be back to being tranquil and soothing.

What an experience that would be. This definitely goes on my list.

2.  Travel to Paris: Who doesn’t want to visit Paris? I’m not sure if it’s the romantic aspect of the city or if it’s the hot French men or the idea of kissing under the Eiffel tower or the vineyards in France or the fact that it’s the fashion capital of the world or if it’s something else altogether. May be it’s all of this combined. But this is one place on everyone’s to-do list. Even in movies, it’s Paris that people go to when they need a break from the monotony. It’s always ‘But I’ve never been to Paris’ that one says when one knows that death is looming. Paris is seen as a fun, sexy, beautiful place, all over the world. Paris is undoubtedly intriguing.

j’irai à Paris un de ces jours. 🙂

3.  Sky-diving: That’s one experience I will give myself. It will probably kill me, but it’s going to be amazing. It’s going to be out of the world. Can you imagine that feeling before the actual jump? Damn. And the jump, I’m sure my stomach’s going to be in my mouth. But that’s one thing I will do, no matter what.

4.  Visit the exotic country called India (Indians choose to vacation in Hawaii instead):  Sometimes, all one wants to do is to try something completely different. Something completely different from ones country. That’s the time to visit India. The country overflowing with tradition can help you find your lost self. It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people. Taj Mahal and its history must be inspiring. Kerala, down south, I’m sure, is a beautiful place. I’d love to visit India and take in all of the perspective it provides. I want to visit the beautiful temples. I’d love to learn Yoga and meditation. I’d like to see the Himalayas. This visit will give me peace like nothing else can, I’m sure of that.

But if you’re an Indian, like I am: Hawaii looks like the world’s most fun place. I’ve never never surfed my whole life. And what can be more awesome than learning to from some hot surfer. Canoeing might be fun too. An evening by the beach, some friends, many newly made friends, everyone clad in Hawaiian attire, some music, a lot of Hula dancing – now that seems like a perfect evening I’ll remember all my life. The beaches, the parties, the flowers, the bathing suits, the sun baths, the coconut shells, the Hula dance, the food, the music.. This place reeks of fun. It’s got to be the perfect spot for a fun vacation.

5.  Scuba Diving: Be it the Red Sea in Egypt or Mexico’s Le Paz or the Andaman islands in India, scuba diving seems to me like something I should try. I don’t know if it will be different in different places, but every time I see a picture of someone Scuba diving, it brings back my desire to travel and explore the world. There’s something about this that incites curiosity. The blue is always crystal clear. The corals look so pretty. And the idea of taking some time off to cohabit with the fish and the sea animals seems wonderful. This is different than every other activity that seems adventurous. This isn’t about the fear or the excitement. This is calm and beautiful. There is no anxiety whatsoever. It’s going to be lovely, nothing else, but lovely.

I’m going scuba diving some day!

6.  Back-packing through Europe: When can I go back-packing if not sometime now? This would be a very very economical trip. No resorts. Nothing extravagant. It would be simply exploring. I want to go all around Europe. I want to see it all – the monuments, the mountains, the lakes, the beaches, the people, the parties, the villages, the houses, the food, the music, the languages, the traditions, the festivals – all of it. I want to go on a Gondola. I so want to inhale the beauty of the Scandinavian countries. I want to eat freshly made Swiss chocolates. I want to see ancient Rome and Vatican and Spain. I want to stay in tents, hostels and homestays. I want to eat food from the vendors on the road. I want to meet new people and make new friends. I want to feel the place the local way.

Oh gosh, I want to do this.

7 Climb some mountain: Nothing can feel more on top of the world than actually being quite on top of the world. It would be fun to actually mean the phrase, literally and metaphorically. This could be some hill/mountain on the Himalayas or the Alps or the Rockies or even a regionally known relatively smaller range of mountains. It doesn’t matter which. The view from up there would be spectacular. It would be an overwhelming feeling.

Some of these items, I wonder if we want to do them because it’s fun to do them or because we want to feel the after-having-done-them feeling. Whatever the reason maybe, each item is a new experience. And that’s surely worth it.

A bucket-list is a must-have. Clichéd to an indescribable extent, maybe. But who cares!! I have a list and mine has all of these and many more (including getting featured on ThoughtCatalog, which I’m working on