“I have wandered all my life, and have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”
Life has several moments of impact in stock. The last and the most tremendous of all those moments is considerably our last one. I would beg to differ. A recent study shows that the human brain remains active for seven minutes after the heart stops, going through its most precious keepsake: the memory bag. THAT for me will be seven minutes filled with impacts. That is what I decided I would live my life for, collecting as many memories, as many moments, as many feelings in as many places as I possibly can, all for those last seven minutes.
That is when I decided I would pack my bag; a small red one from Levis I still remember, and I would head out.
That was the beginning to a whole new world of adventures, moments, emotions, feelings and goosebumps, which I saved up, but there is so much more yet to come.
All my life, till I turned 18, there would be vacations every year, with friends and family to beautiful locations; it had become routine. And if you ask me: What do you remember from those trips? How do you remember the trip? How was the place? How were the locals? How did the air there smell? I would not have an answer to any of those questions because all I remember from those trips are the people I was with; that little circle of people completely absorbed within themselves with a whole world of fellow travellers and nature going past through them in a blur called time.
So why did I go on so many vacations? Living in lavish hotels, eating the most royal food and spending time with the same people when I cannot even remember what the place where I spent so much time, was?
So that year, I took a decision to break that routine. I sat my parents down and I told them that I want to go to Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. Alone. It was an instant no. I did not know what to do. Days I convinced my parents and I told them about full phone connectivity there and that it was a very safe place to travel. And a good ten days later, they sort of agreed and that was good enough for me.
It was a short trip, but I came back with so much. I roamed around in the hills clicking pictures, chatted with the locals, played with the furry dogs, said bye to cars passing by, sat in the church with the locals, visited monasteries, chatted with monks, got to know what Tibetans really feel about their political scenarios, had the most locally made food in roadside dhabas, met people from all over the world over books and coffee in cafes, got excited to see a small waterfall up at Bhaksunath and so on.
When I came back, I realised how I slowly realised that things were different. I would smile more, acknowledge people around me, greet others, notice small things like the seasons change, enjoy warm get-togethers rather than loud fun, I was less irritated and soon, people around me started being happy. When I was down, I would plan one of my future adventures in the Himalayas.
Everyday problems in life still existed, but how to look at them and tackle them, had changed. People around would still get the worse of me, but I learnt how to get the better of them. And I realised where it all came from. A few habits, a few hacks I picked up on, in the hills had actually sunk into my everyday life.
One adventure, alone, went to another one and then another, mostly through the Himalayas. I started understanding terrains, the local cultures, folklore, beliefs and superstitions, crafts and lifestyles. The more I got acquainted with life at different metres above sea level, the more I was intrigued to know, the more memories I added.
That's the thing about solo soul-searching. The search never ends when you explore on your own. What you notice and how you notice it changes a one eighty degrees because somewhere you know, this is one thing you are doing for yourself after days and months in the city, trying to live in the monotony of metro societies.
Today, in a world and a time where, the morning newspaper generally greets you with shadows of the previous few days, where we often forget where the time went and where we walk over our own desires for so many situations, solo travel is your break, your key into your world. It is your space, where you get to know yourself, where you imbibe the positive energies around you into yourself. It is the time, everyone needs to spend with oneself.
To all the women out there, there are so many places which are safe for you all! Himachal Pradesh is one such state. A matriarchal society and happy worry free people, this state is one, where you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Travel in local buses, interact with locals, meet new people. I have been staying with the locals for years and they are the most warm and fuzzy people to be around. You to them, you will be family and there will be so many things about the place and surrounding areas, that the locals would tell you about, which outsiders would hardly ever know of. My crazy adventure to Kinnaur to meet the master weavers of the famous Kullu Shawls is a testimony to that.
There is so much to see out there. To spend one night in the mountains, staring at the sky with big eyes thinking whether the entire Milky Way has descended towards you, the cold in the air pressing down and a cricket chirping in some distance and not a worry in mind. A break everyone should take for themselves once every few months, to get away from the extremely fast paced struggles in the city and to spend the much needed time with yourself, exploring, discovering and memories.
So, open that map, mark your spot, figure out the bus routes, pick a weekend, pack that bag and fly solo to discover yourself. Just as you need to make a house, home; you need to make a trip, an adventure, a journey. That journey will have a hundred stories in one and you will want to live it a thousand times over.
And every moment of that is worth it.
About the author: On paper, Abhinanda is a twenty-two-year-old craft-textile designer. But she believes that in truth, she is really just a wanderer. Travel makes her wonder, wandering makes her observe, observing makes her understand and understanding makes her value. To satiate her wanderlust, she also writes for AlienAdv, whom you can follow on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+