As soon as I am back home after December’s long holidays, unpack job has not yet been completed, I somehow find time to go and buy New Year’s calendar. Some sunny afternoon, I sit out in balcony and take out the new calendar and my husband’s calendar of holidays and kids school diaries.Then begins a long process of identifying all the days, be it just one or two or five or ten, jotting them down to keep it safe for the whole year long.
Holidays of March, Summer, Dussehra and December are planned more or less at this time. And I always find to do it despite it being winters (I do not like cold at all), disarranged house after long break of holidays and kid’s exams imminent in February. Why? Why this particular work when I forego all other activities except cooking in the warmth of kitchen and reading in the warmth of heavy quilts.
Because I like this as much as the travel itself, rather more!The act of planning is freedom in itself. The only binding factors at the beginning are number of holidays and corresponding season.
Winter season puts north and many parts of north east India out of bounds for me. So December holidays puts central India and South India on the radar. March and April is always for some wildlife exploration. Summer is a strict no go to all other parts except north and north east. October is an interesting time and it offers most of the choices for travel but I have to really work hard to find some offbeat place to escape the Pooja crowd. Monsoon madness again offers many possibilities all over the country but the number of days are very limited. Within these limits there is a world to explore. I take out Rough Guides, Lonely Planets and all the brochures and magazines that we have.
As I start leafing through the states, I let the content or the picture catch my fancy to deplore it further in detail. All the forests, monuments, rivers, fairs start dancing in front of me. I feel as if I am really exploring it all.
A photo of glass bangles in bright colours sends me standing at the lac bangle shop, seeing all those women asking for their choice of colour and design, and not being able to decide which one to buy. I see the clever shop owner making the choice for them and explaining that this red or that green is the best of the lot and that it looks even better on her wrist. I want to see those interested newly married and uninterested older husbands. Those bangles invite me to go there.
But the bangles are not enough for ten day trip. In my quest to seek the unknown, I go through the ASI books only to find that that Aha! Moment is there. There is a little known temple or a lone Burj left behind by the growing town. Perhaps we will be the only people asking for directions to find it and locals will be giving us a curious glance. A birding book lying in my lap coos me that who all are there to be found in that place. A travel magazine has been nicely paid to allure me with a beautiful farm house surrounded by peach and plums and pears! It is expensive but the charm of plucking the fruits and eating right there tempts me. I feel the trickle of juice on our wrist and I note it down to consider for later. Another photo of a Hyena transports me directly to the jeep ride in Jungle. I see myself clicking wildly. Even before I could even focus the lens, it will perhaps stomp away leaving us all grunting.
All the checklists of birds, reptiles, mammals, trees tempts me to tick them off. I know that not one of these check listed VIPs give a damn to a human commoner and perhaps they will get a good view of me, hidden behind the tall grasses, in dense canopies, in their holes and burrows and I will not be able to see at all. Still I have to go and try my luck. Trees are not elusive but they have their own ideas to keep me wanting. Only some of them will bloom when I go there and others will decide that it is too hot or too cold for them. If I tilt in favour of trees, other VIPs declare that it is not ‘their time’. God! Is there any way I could decide when should I go?
Oh! Oh! So if I go in this season I will miss that, another season and I will miss some others and if by any chance I am able to find that ‘sweet spot’ when I will get the most, I find that schools do not follow my travel fantasies!
All those innumerable things makes me go wild and over working at imagination. It storms my being and provokes all of my senses to go and Find it! Feel it! Live it!
Somewhere in between this semi- trance I let myself go to another state. As I devour some more and dream even more, not willing to decide anything, kids or doorbell or some other thing bring me back to the task at hand.
After oscillating between the desire and practical, I put my foot on the practical pedestal and stand at the border of some state. Another new vista opens to me. I read about the state and leisurely walk through the temples, streets, people at the fairs, stumbling upon some hidden sweets shop, or a wood carved door in some old, narrow alley, and it all takes me there itself. And the whole exercise begins all over again.
There are a lot of dots now and I must connect them. I wade through the routes to know the number of hours needed to travel to and fro, distance between various destinations there itself, all the possible treks that can be done. I find myself climbing up those strenuous treks because some orchid has caught my attention or because some high altitude mountain lake invites me. I find myself renting the bikes and do the countryside drives. Even though I may not be able to do all that is possible but at least for a brief moment, I was there! And there is a longing in the heart which is more beautiful and lovable because it will take me there someday!
Yes! Planning is beautiful because of the wild unrestrained imagination. Planning is beautiful for the longing it evokes. Planning is beautiful because it puts reigns in my hand.
Planning is beautiful because it takes me to all the places in the world!