Travel and the not so pink and rosy side of it!

Friday, January 21, 2011

So people see my travel pictures and think I am living a dream. Yea, remember this word dream for later. Have a lot to say on this but later. Travel can affect you in multiple ways, one of those I had already posted earlier – Food for Thought : Travel and Conscience.

If you travel a lot, you’d already know and if not, then know this – travel is not all that like an everlasting fun ride. It has its moments, both good and bad. As you travel more, you see new things, your perspective changes, your understanding varies, you make new friends and you make new discoveries about yourself and others. Bottom-line – you change, both mentally and physically. As we change, the things we used to like earlier might not appeal to you anymore and worst thing to happen is that feeling of not fitting in anymore. Well this and more, I will talk about in this post.

I am certainly not the person I used to be two years ago. Ask my friends and family about it – they’d know! While I changed for good, there are many things that I had to learn/unlearn for the life I am living now. Let’s start on a lighter note and proceed towards the more serious issues.

Living a dream

There are few who take this sentence to mean literally! Literally as in I am living a dream with no serious commitment towards life whatsoever. Oh right, it is okay to waste three years of your life for an MBA but trying to pursue something that falls outside of the so called acceptable criteria is a serious offence. Try it out, tell somebody you are fighting with all you have to get an entry into a premier institution and look out for the reverence you’d find in their eyes and then tell them you are trying to take photos and sell them – yea, exactly that's the look I am talking about. After a degree from such a prestigious institution, is this what you want do is the question I get so frequently by now I am used to letting it not affect me at all. I smile and walk away. I wonder if these people have never heard of the phrase – To each his own! I am screaming to each his own, people!

My company pays me for doing nothing

Yea, like that’s possible. I seriously have lost track of the number of times I’ve heard this over the past year. How is it possible for anybody to get paid for doing nothing? I have no clue how that can be accomplished and I am thinking maybe the ones who keep saying this to me have gotten to know the secret recipe to get your company to pay you for nothing. In that case please let me know as well. But otherwise, I have a normal 9 to 5 job like the rest do and yet I try to squeeze in time to pursue my hobbies and interests. Next time I hear someone say this, for all I know, somebody’s gonna get hurt real bad. ;)
Oh wow, looks like I am back to the rant mode now – read this for my previous rant – Top Five Annoying Things to say to a Photographer.

I am a creep, I am weirdo.

Not in the actual sense, but if you listen carefully when I am sitting with a group of non-travelers, you might actually hear Radiohead singing this song for me. “What the hell am I doing here, I don’t belong here.” No kidding, with all that travel, now I have nothing else to talk to other than some adventure from some corner of the country. Conversations flow freely with fellow travelers even we are meeting for the first time on the other hand even with friends I run out of topics eventually. This is one of the serious side effects of travel now. I don’t seem to speak any other language and if you are not willing to listen to my (mis)adventures, I might not speak to you again. I know, that’s crazy! Working on it people.
Read WanderingEarl's hilarious take on this -

More creepiness, I talk to myself.

As I write this, I am still talking to myself. I wonder when this started but I was neck deep into this by the time I realized I was doing it. I look at something and I say to myself – ‘wow! Look at this’ as if I am not already looking at it. I found some solace in knowing few other travelers do this too. I am wondering if any of you reading this post talk to themselves. While on a trek, I walk at my own pace which would keep me away from company and possibly I started talking to myself then. And also when I had to curse myself for getting into a difficult trek or situation I would’ve started this. Whichever way, now talking to myself is part of travel. As a friend once said, if you yourself cannot enjoy your company how can anybody else? Well I think it makes sense and I can be in peace with my own company.

It is not a perfect dream. It is not a simple life.

Many seem to think I am either living the perfect dream or leading a simple life. It is a happy life alright but neither is it perfect nor is it simple. It is just a plain case of what you see on the top. Travel might look all that sweet but that is what it is in the end – sugar coated. I do not come back and publish ugly photos neither do I come back and tell you I was miserable on some days nor do I tell you about my sad tales of depression and sleeplessness during travel. It ain’t a free world and you’ve got to pay the price for what you get. Let’s just say it is as simple as saying you need to get up early to catch the sunrise. It doesn’t work any other way. How ironic is it that I wake up very early in the morning whenever I am on a vacation. Aren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing? Well exactly, understand that I am not on a vacation instead I am on a mission to explore. This comes with a star given the fact that I have a job to get back to which means limited time on the road and I do not have huge fortune stashed up to back me up which means limited money. Limited time, limited money and unlimited travel can mean only one thing – a very high tolerance to the uncomfortable. I’ve stayed in dingy hotels, very cold places, very hot places, dragged my legs forever, spent sleepless nights and traveled in crazy ways. I am not complaining for this but I am just saying this is a way of life for me and you should know that this is not all that pink and rosy.

Social Life? Yea right!

Another major setback of the travel that I do is that I have no time left for family and friends, at all. It would’ve been easy if all my best friends traveled as much as I did. I still try to involve my family in my world by spending at least one major vacation a year with family but that barely does it. I don’t meet them as much as I would’ve liked to and I am very thankful for the friends that I have who understand my complete lack of communication with them. Once in a blue moon I can still call them and talk about everything under the sun. But these friends are the only ones who have been there before my travel days. If I look at it now, I didn’t make any new acquaintance (let alone a friend) after I started traveling who is not either a traveler or trekker or a photographer. It is rarely that I am free on weekends and even if I am, this is what happens to me.


Depression while on travel

When I first started to travel I wasn’t much aware of this phenomenon while on the move. It was all bright and sunny and I couldn’t contain the excitement of seeing new things every day. But then slowly as the travel increased and I also started going out for longer durations I realized after few days, chances are you might just fall into the rut. You are tired because of the endless travel, cold sleepless nights and all you want to do is sit in the room comfortably. And then it all follows, just one incident to take your mind towards depression. You see some kids and you start thinking of realities of life, somebody cheats you and you start thinking how unfair life is, or chances are you might think how unfair life is when you visit palaces, I mean what kind of lives those rajas and maharajas lived and the jobless souls who are still living that legacy! I honestly avoid palaces for this same reason, I really do. I go down the vortex of depression when I see these palaces. Depression also comes from another source that I will discuss below.
Read about Johnny Vagabond's super take on this -

How do you keep the excitement alive?

Knowing me, you would also know my interest primarily lies in the unexplored. I swear to god I cannot stand those touristy places crammed with a million people in every inch. And my travel does not make sense to me unless I have some crazy adventure or a brilliant picture or something in the superlatives for sure. Now the question is how much adventure can I get? Before heading to Rajasthan, I was very apprehensive about my trip. After seeing the spectacular wilderness of Himalayas, Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats how can I find something interesting in the tourist hub of the country was my thought. Luckily with some help I was able to craft an itinerary that very well suited my needs of the unexplored and little known. Of all the days I spent in Rajasthan, the least enjoyable days were in Jaipur, Udaipur and Bikaner. There is something in my mind that refuses to even consider popular places on the tourist grid. You can only imagine how tough it gets for me to get excited about a new place. Thankfully India still has many unknown places, but that is mainly thanks to the common Indian Traveler who wants to see the only common things. But I don’t know how long the excitement will last. For what it’s worth I can never go to Ooty and enjoy the scenery around.

No need to say goodbye!

This is one more thing I need to condition myself to if I intend to become a world traveler. The moment I meet a fellow traveler/trekker/photographer conversation flows like I said earlier. We have a good time and then the dreaded moment arrives. I hate saying goodbyes. Meeting many interesting people is part and parcel of travel but somehow I have never been able to leave it at that. I feel sad when I have to leave the new friends and the locals who were so hospitable. I cannot just take the memories and get lost. The feeling arises, to stay back a little longer which of course I cannot do and this will lead to more perplexed thoughts.

While I am still learning to deal with all such issues I am pretty sure travel is all not that rosy for you as well. We still do travel for the love of it and nothing can possibly deter us from doing so but there might have been few sacrifices you made or few compromises you made or you just put with the inconveniences. What is your experience? I’d like to know.

In the end you might wonder why I am doing this if I all I can think of is problems, but the post with the benefits of travel and my love for it will run for pages. So let’s just leave it at that. Even one photo can make me travel all the way from Bangalore to Jaisalmer.

Come along with me, on a virtual journey! Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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  1. Loved the rant! :) Though there are flip sides to every story, this is your perspective and very nicely put too..

    - Arti

  2. Loved it : for your honesty , confessions on confusions . And good to know u r are working on some social loopholes .
    Yes , there is always thorny side to a pink rose . But be proud , as you have identified your passion in life , a great number of wonderful people I met haven’t .


  3. Hey Neelima,
    First of all - Let's be honest. We ARE living a dream. Not somebody else's rosy dream but our simple dream of doing what we love. Most people give excuses .....we just do it!!.

    One thing I do now - is not apologize for having too much fun - "This is MY life and I will travel as much as I want. You can save your money or buy diamonds or expensive cars"
    I know my priorities and I follow them. It is as simple as that.

    I agree with this post on so many levels!! It was as if I was talking to myself most of the time (not all the time - As you know, I am perfectly happy visiting places on the beaten track and off it with the same enthu). With EVERY trip, you find out more about yourself. The kind of clarity you get in terms of what you want for yourself is just amazing.

    BTW...I talk to myself too:) I think that is great! I almost never get bored.

    The one and only thing I feel bad about this post is moving away from friends. Don't do that. Travel buddies are nice and fine, but you need real friends who care about you. The same way you make time for traveling, photographing and blogging, you need to make time for friends.
    I love this post, I am going to share it on my FB page

  4. I can totally relate to this post...It is a dream that cannot be lived by everybody...priorities vary with person..this is who we are and what we do...and the best part is that it makes us happy...

    BTW, I see that you have got yourself your own may be, you can create your own unique branding :-)

  5. From one creep to another, excellent post!

    You definitely managed to sum up the challenges of extended travel that are often overlooked. And these social challenges should not be taken lightly as I feel that they are more difficult to deal with than any foreign culture or environment we might find ourselves in.

    But in the end, we decide to accept these challenges and deal with the consequences (and like you discovered, talking to yourself isn't really all that bad!) in order to enjoy those handful of travel moments when life does seem perfect!

    And thank you for the mention :)

  6. "Smile..walk away, move on and focus on you" is what I have learnt throughout the years when I have been faced with the same questions too :) Good rant....and you can call me up netime to vent...I wont mind the communication gap :P..

  7. Ha ha!!! Interesting rant!!! Sometimes when people ask some really stupid questions, I really do feel like killing them!!! Good, that you've put in down here in words!!!
    Mohanur Temple Tour - Part 2
    Fashion Panache now Sells!!!

  8. I can't call this a rant, its more like a well structured monologue on how travel can effect a person. well done.
    your writing (and photography) has improved by leaps and bounds. I seriously wish I could express this eloquently!

  9. Hey Neel,

    Some I relate to, some I don't :-) Like you said to each his/her own. But I enjoyed.
    An inspiration and such an awesome break from the wannabes I am generally surrounded with :)
    I hope we get to trek together again sometime soon :-)


  10. ## rtg - A little too late but better late than never! It was fun to put down this post and good to know it was fun to read it as well. :)

    ## clueless - I am not too sure I have identified what I want in life. I just know that I need to keep wandering. Well yeah, I'm happy figured atleast that much! ;)

    ## Vamsee - It is good to know veteran travelers like you agree with me on many levels. Collateral damage of all that traveling and fun! ;)
    And yes, I will definitely try to make amends on the falling out of touch with old friends and family part.

  11. ## Earl - Glad to see you here! Ha ha..yea.. one creep to another. :)
    Traveling is definitely a challenge I enjoy the most and I wouldn't have it any other way. And I was so relieved to read in your post that you talk to yourself too. ;)

    ## Navya - he he.. while I can smile and walk away most of the times, sometimes they just have it coming! ;) Sure, next time around we'll make an appointment only to rant. :P

    ## Mitr - Exactly my point! :)

    ## Anoop - Thanks man! He he..well like they say practice makes a man perfect, I have been going over these things so many times in my mind in so many situations, when the time came to put these down it was a no brainer. :)

    ## Paro - So good to see you here! :) :)
    Glad to know you enjoyed reading this rant. Yea, we should get together sometime soon.

  12. I can so relate to this. Loved the cartoon strip :)

  13. hey... your blog does sort of remind me that i too cant carry on a conversation with any of my acquaintences!! wellcome to the club!!! travel does do that to you... maybee i too have a bee... neelima vellangi.

  14. traveling like this is madness??? call u mad then...:) loved reading it.... let there be a mad world around u:)

  15. You don't know the revelation I felt when you said talking to myself. I love to see new places and this is the first time that I'm seeing spectacular places all by myself. And here I am narrating incidents to myself, poking fun at someone, exclaiming , ranting and reliving it all to myself!
    Also, travelling a lot must mean some repercussions on your sleep cycle. Its been a huge factor for me!

    1. I guess all of us do talking to ourselves a lot. Even I wondered if I was the only one until I read another traveller confess he does it too. :)
      IMO it is an essential part of the journey!

      And yes, it gets very very tiring with the messed up sleep cycles, but what can we do. I guess we can't have the cake and eat it too.

  16. Just came across your blog. I just ventured into active travelling, trekking and other outdoor activities. Thank you for the insight! I share your dislike for crowdy tourist spots. The social consequences of your travelling were pretty interesting.
    Thank you for the blog!. Will keep checking :-):-)

    1. Awesome! All the best with finding your own trails and offbeat places. :)

  17. Good one Neelima. You have expressed the reality in very pretty words.. loved it. :)

  18. traveler's syndrome is very well articulated in this post... Getting inspirations on an armchair and hitting the road are two different things... :)...we generally overlook the dark side of the moon.... further down, its related with the insatiable curiosity of Human nature.. Thanks for the external links which made it complete.... prolific blog it is..keep it...

    1. Exactly my point Vishnu, just because we share good stories of travel, doesn't mean there are no tough times. :)

  19. Exactly ! After I started trekking freinds around me started calling me psycho and what not ! Brilliant article !

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  21. Brilliant Neelima! I could relate the things you have said so much that it's as if I was telling everything to myself. Travel is something our society has managed to mis-interpret successfully and corrupted the definition of it. Being a social mis-fit myself I understand how it feels to find someone who you can talk about traveling and photography.
    I'm looking for ways to sustain the passion of travel+photography with the other mundanity of life. I want to travel as much as possible and as far as possible. Probably you might be able to give me some tips. As of now I've quit my job because it was eating up too much of my time and heading to the himalayas. Hopefully I will have an interesting story to tell by the end of the trip.
    PS: I don't usually comment under posts, but this one, I had to. :)


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