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Confessions of a “bad” traveller

The other day during a spirited conversation about the need of honesty in travel writings, I found out that I might not be one of the typical good travellers. The debate of a traveller vs. tourist has been around for ages; & despite being accused of being ‘touristy’ at times, I don’t think it’s essentially a bad thing.

Despite conceding to calling myself a traveler, I do have a tendency to get lazy while traveling. In the search of finding lesser known paths, unexplored beaches & pristine wilderness; often there are times when I search for the comfort of familiarity. I tend to stick to my favorite cuisine rather than trying out the local specialties; I find myself frequenting the bars where the barkeep recognizes me, I try to visit my beloved jungle Bandhavgarh more than any other, et al. Creature comforts don’t elude me & I them.

Another flip-side rarely documented in the lives of us travelers is what we happen to miss out on w.r.t our families & friends. A phone call on a birthday is never the same as feeding a piece of cake, or being by the side of a loved one when grief strikes. I have missed out several occasions with friends despite having the sincere most desire to be partaking in their moment of joy/ sorrow; because I was traveling. Other times I have failed to keep in touch with friends from a certain place or time, or the friends I made on a particular trip.
Sometimes during travel to amazing places also, there is an inevitable moment that strikes: you wish you had someone beside to share the view with.

For that matter there are times when I can’t strike up a conversation beyond the verbal ping pong of how do you dos. I try my best to go beyond the borders & try to connect with people as bluntly (arguably beautifully) as possible. Yet there are times when I get apprehensive of what the people will think, or hesitate to ask questions, thinking that the answer might be no. Struggling with it, I often push myself to extend a hand & a smile and try.

I am also a bit obsessive-compulsive when it comes to things being in order during travel. I check & recheck my documents & checklist umpteen times over before leaving home. Solo traveling is thus, also one of my lesser vices. Group travels are considered way more fun & the reign of chaos (in planning a trip with a group) makes it even more delightful but I love to travel on my own terms. I like to flexible, spend inordinate amounts talking to a fellow man while missing out a chance to visit a must do place on the itinerary, or spending a sunset staying indoors looking around in a museum.

Getting to travel for wildlife is a dream, but one needs to realize it can often be frustrating. Often despite due diligence of sitting for hours just to get a perfect flight shot of a bird, or squatting awkwardly on the sides of a jeep for an eye level shot of tiger cubs; there are times when I haven’t got the right shot & spent hours cribbing about it.

Living a travel lifestyle is incredibly rewarding but only if you are ready to work hard to make it happen & maintain it; like any regular job. I feel blessed to get chances to go wild, but there are days when the skies get grey even in the jungles.

Published by Aniket Gupta

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