Saturday, 2 May 2015



I am a princess, that flaming yellow and red costume becomes me as I perch atop the marble sill,
peeping out of the tiny window, looking out at the world beyond the formidable walls of my Fort Palace; I am Vaselisa the Beautiful, my thick plait dancing wildly behind me as I amble along the dense silver forests, the carpet of grass spangled with lavender kissing my feet, the snowy white rabbits watching me wide eyed as I daintily pluck some cherry blossoms.


I am a dreamer, I SPIN STORIES. I am a traveller, I weave stories around places I see, destinations I visit, things I look at, people I meet. Road trips do that to me, I watch the world go by as I sit pretty in the cozy comforts of my car, time and again rolling down the windows to feel the wind in my hair, taste the salt on my face, touch the tiny raindrops that patter down, soak in the romance enveloping me, to see the new beyond.

I simply love the spontaneity and flexibility road trips offer. Nothing to do on the weekend? Tired of visiting the malls but hate to stay back and spend the Sunday at home?Your friend is lapping up the sun in Bali while you wait for that eluding increment. Voila! The solution lies in your car keys. You had to leave at 5 in the morning but the sheets refuse to let go of you. Hey, another hour of sleep won’t turn your world upside down, after all there are no planes to catch. You don’t need to plan months in advance, just pack up and go.

I can carry an entire wardrobe with me, three changes for the day, those new boots I so wanted to be clicked in, a silver, a gold and a black clutch, the classic sling and the practical hobo. I would need
my floral tiara too and throwing in some chunky chic accessories won’t hurt either. I might find the
novel, I plan on reading, boring so I better keep the other one along. Just in case.
The polaroid, the digicam,laptop, chargers, adaptors, my neck pillow... The boot of the car survives it all. I even carry my blanket along, you never know...

Road trips give you this feeling that you are in control, that you have the power to set the pace of
your holiday. You can take innumerable pit stops, the excuses can be varied, a washroom break, a photo opportunity, inexplicable hunger pangs or the uncontrollable urge to ask for directions from a
corner kiosk even though the GPS seems to be working just fine. Backseat driving adds a whole new dimension to cruise control.

Road trips have a No Fixed Plans recipe on the menu. I grew up at my grandparental home, visiting the small town my parents lived in, only during school vacations. While going back, away from my parents, I invariably developed (read-’feigned’) some kind of sickness which would help delay my departure by a day or two. Those complimentary days meant the world to me. As do now, the extra unplanned extended stays when you have yet not got your fill, when you are reluctant to leave just yet. One more day, another hour beyond lunch, a minute extra...the luxury of those stolen moments which only a road trip can offer.

Road trips are a time to bond, with family, with friends. Long conversations, those songs that stir up nostalgia, recounting funny old stories, making new memories, there is time for it all.
Journey is the reward. It is a learning process, smooth roads, rough terrain, concrete jungles, bucolic vistas, majestic ruins, off beat trails, a new adventure is always waiting around the corner.The thrill
of finding something new, unexpected, is what keeps you going. Meeting interesting people on the
way, exchanging pleasantries with strangers, reading signboards like “KFC-Kangra Famous Chicken”, waiting patiently as the shepherd navigates his scampering sheep from out of the way, tasting that odd cross between an orange and a sweet lime freshly and stealthily plucked from a roadside orchard, listening to the forest whisper and streams chortle, getting lost only to find something more bewildering, more beautiful. Travel is my Drug. Road trips confirm this theory.

Yet don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t just yet fall in love. The bubble is fragile, my romance has a
few enemies, the ride not without hiccups. The treachery lies in the deplorable condition of the roads, the unrelenting traffic snarls, that obnoxious and continuous honking right in your ear. You are
exhausted even before you begin. The back pain and stiff neck will follow for the longest time.
Finding a clean hygienic restroom, forget that, a restroom, any kind of it, becomes an impossible task once you steer away from the highway. You bide time, holding in and listening to “ I told you so”.
Be prepared to eat at road side stalls, forget all about your jasmine flavoured green tea, endless
cuppas of cutting chai and oil stuffed pakoras await you. Carry your own water in case you are
allergic to “Baislari”. Hand sanitizers, wet wipes, paper soaps, deodrant, mosquito repellant need to urgently replace some of your carefully packed make up in the hand bag.

Finding new routes, going off the beaten tracks, taking the roads less travelled, as paradisiacal as it
sounds in your head, can get a little scary when you actually get lost, the GPS won’t work, the
cell phone signals have dropped to a new low, street lights are alien objects, unheard of in this part of the world and there is no soul in sight. I say my little prayer, silently pledging never ever to be this
adventurous, striking off all dreamy epic road trips lined up on my bucket list.

Next morning, curled up in my hotel room at Palampur, fresh like a dew and stuffing my mouth
with hot syrupy pancakes, I tell my husband, `Let’s try Langsdown in October, maybe’.

                         My bitter sweet relationship with Road Trips continues....